Way back in 2013, Ben Affleck was cast as the Dark Knight for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The casting back was really controversial; it spawned fan petitions, ridicule, and the rest of the usual for these things. Ultimately, however, Affleck won over most of the doubters with his actual performance, and he reprised the role in Suicide Squad and Justice League. He’s also been attached to star in Matt Reeves’ The Batman.
Before Justice League came out, rumors began that Affleck would drop out of the Batman role very soon, and/or The Batman would feature a new actor under the cowl. Affleck initially responded by saying that he was still interested in the solo film. However, in a more recent interview, Affleck sounded less confident, saying that he wants to find a “cool way” to exit the role. These and other things are going to play a part in whether or not Affleck decides to continue.
Personally, I love what Affleck has brought to the role so far. His performance elevated Batman v Superman, while he was a lot of fun in Justice League. But in this piece, I’m going to argue why it would be best if Affleck goes ahead and steps down from the Batman role now.
The DC Films So Far…
It’s no secret that most of the recent DC films haven’t been critical hits. While Wonder Woman was widely praised, every other movie got mixed to negative reviews, including the ones with Ben Affleck. Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad were particularly torn apart. It’s easy for anybody to be disappointed by that, but especially for Affleck himself.
Back in a 2012 interview (one year before his Batman casting), Affleck addressed the possibility of doing another comic book movie after the panned Daredevil. Affleck hasn’t held back on his experience with Daredevil, saying that he hated it. So, for him to do another superhero movie, he said that it had to be the “right one” and if he were to have a good experience.
Well, every DC movie that Affleck has done has received reviews just as bad as Daredevil, if not worse. Batman v Superman in particular spawned toxic word-of-mouth among general audiences, having poor box office legs and seemingly affecting Justice League‘s underwhelming numbers. I’m sure that this wasn’t what Affleck intended when he made his return to the genre. And it’s easy to see how this could turn him off from continuing.
Affleck’s Personal Life
For Justice League
‘s disappointing box office, people have come up with all kinds of potential explanations. Some say the DC brand is toxic, some blame Zack Snyder, some blame the reviews, some blame all of the above. But what if Ben Affleck had a role to play? For starters, you could argue that he’s not exactly a box office
draw, as few of his movies outside of DC have made a ton of money. Also, his last movie, Live by Night
, was a huge bomb.
Then there’s recent headlines made by Affleck’s personal life. Just a few weeks ago, Affleck was the subject of several sexual harassment claims
. Affleck has since publicly apologized and expressed a desire to change his behavior. And that’s a good first step. However, that’s not enough to fix his public reputation, which may be beyond total repair at this point.
Right now, countless men in the film and television industry have been outed for their sexual harassment. Many of them, such as Kevin Spacey and Andrew Kreisberg, have been fired from their jobs because of their actions. What if Affleck is next? It’s not hard to imagine WB wanting to distance its biggest franchise from a controversial actor. Then again, the studio still has Johnny Depp in Fantastic Beasts, so who knows.
But even outside of the harassment, there are additional factors in Affleck’s personal life. He completed rehab
earlier this year, he is dealing with divorce
, and he is invested in his children. It’s completely understandable (and admirable) if Affleck wants to get out of the spotlight and recommit to the more important things in his life. If leaving Batman allows him to do that, then do it.
The Future of the Bat
Assuming that WB is still invested in expanding the DC Films franchise, Batman is expected to play a key role, with or without Affleck. Matt Reeves has talked about a potential Batman trilogy
, while there’s still a chance of a Justice League
sequel happening one day. Whoever plays Batman in multiple movies needs to maintain a commitment. Affleck shouldn’t be forced to play Batman for x amount of movies if he genuinely does not want to or if he’s uncertain. If he has cold feet over it, then it’s best to bring in someone who’s in for the long haul, like the other Justice League actors.
My pitch? DC focuses on solo films for the next few years, making audiences feel more connected to the characters before another team-up. Part of that could be a new Batman actor. Have The Batman introduce the new guy, get audiences excited, then bring him into Justice League 2. They could recast Bruce Wayne or have a new character under the cowl. But personally, I wouldn’t be opposed to a simple recast if they have more Wayne stories to tell. No need for Flashpoint to create a convoluted explanation for it either.
Affleck has acknowledged before that he won’t play Batman forever. The Batman franchise – and the DC franchise as a whole – is so much bigger than one actor. One day, they’re going to recast, reboot, whatever. But that day may come sooner than later. And honestly, looking at all the factors, it’s arguably for the best.
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