Holy creative crisis, Batman!
By now you’ve probably heard that Ben Affleck has indeed decided not to direct the upcoming solo Batman film, set within the current DC Extended Universe.
Not good. Not good at all.
Affleck has been quoted for months, saying he wasn’t happy with the film’s script, and he wouldn’t rush into directing a movie he wasn’t entirely devoted to. Now he has decided that he won’t direct the film; leaving fans to wonder if he’ll even star in it.
As a comic book fan, I’ve always leaned more towards DC than Marvel. DC’s broken, god-like characters masquerading as ‘perfect superheroes saving the world’ seems to resonate with me more than Marvel’s more (on a comic book scale) realistic / science-based characters. Don’t get me wrong, I love Marvel too, and their combined, live-action universe is one of the greatest achievements in the history of film and television.
But what can I say? I like DC.
Which is why it’s so frustrating to be one of their fans these days.
The Dark Knight Trilogy is still the highlight of the genre to me. And let’s face it, Tim Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns are widely regarded as classics, not to mention the grand-daddy of them all… Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie.
Unfortunately, since The Dark Knight Rises signaled the end of the “Nolan-verse”, DC’s films have failed to reach anywhere near the same critical or commercial heights.
I like Man of Steel. I really do. I find many of the criticisms thrown at it to be quite ludicrous and sometimes disingenuous. It’s not a perfect film. Far from it. But it’s not as bad as some people make it out to be.
Batman V Superman left a bad taste in my mouth. Even the Ultimate Edition, while far better than the hacked up theatrical cut, still didn’t alleviate my problems with that film. A Batman who outright murders his prey goes against everything the character is about. It also doesn’t make any sense. If he kills, why the need to frighten his enemies with the suit? Why are most of gadgets non-lethal? If he’s happy to gun down criminals in his car, why not just shoot them in the face with guns instead of wasting time punching & kicking?
Anyway, my point is: Batman V Superman led to Suicide Squad, an even worse film in my opinion. Jared Leto’s Joker was awful, Will Smith was good but still “Will Smith dressed as Deadshot” and the storyline was so thin and full of holes, Lobo himself could’ve ridden his space-chopper through them. Due in no small part, I’m sure, to the fact that David Ayer was forced to pump out a rushed script. The one saving grace was Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. But even she couldn’t save that movie from itself.
The script is everything. If it doesn’t work on the page, it won’t work on the screen. The people in charge of this DCEU seem to be ignoring that fact.
Affleck has said before if the script for The Batman isn’t good, he won’t direct. He is no longer directing. What does that tell you?
To me, Affleck’s decision to step away from directing The Batman snuffs out any hope that the people in charge of Warner Bros. / DC are amending their plans to copy-but-not-copy what Marvel have done and instead, rush movies into production at the expense of quality.
I fear that if the suits in charge of these films haven’t been swayed to make sure the script is up to Affleck’s liking, so much so, he’s willing to walk away; this could signal the end the DCEU.
Wonder Woman is only a few months from release and we’re already hearing rumors of that movie’s problems. Justice League will be with us towards the end of the year, but does anyone really think Zack Snyder will alter his plans?
Either way, both films were way past the point of return when BvS came out to disappointing reviews. There was never any danger of them being shelved. No matter what, both Wonder Woman and Justice League were always going to continue this universe. And now that Aquaman is ready to move into production, that film will eventually see the light of day as well.
But is that where it stops? I think so.
If Wonder Woman and Justice League fail to gain a decent critical reaction, (let’s face it, they’ll make money, but not Transformers “who care if these movies are good, they make our studio billions” money) then I truly believe WB / DC will cancel their remaining plans and go back to the drawing board.
I mean, The Flash movie is a train wreck, no one really wants a Cyborg movie, even Geoff Johns is having difficulties truly convincing people that Green Lantern deserves a second chance after 2011’s miss, and really, do we think David Ayer will turn the world upside down with his proposed Gotham City Sirens?
With Affleck gone, the one ray of hope that I had goes with him.
Unless the people in charge look to proven DC storytellers like Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, Jeph Loeb, Scott Snyder, Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg, I can’t see a future for DC on film.
At least not this current iteration.
I really hope I’m wrong. Harvey Dent once said, “The night is darkest just before the dawn.”
While that’s true, I feel in some weird way, life has imitated art. The Dark Knight was indeed before Dawn of Justice. But things did not get better.
Nor does it look like they will anytime soon.
But, as I write this, despite it all, I still can’t help but think of the final line of Rogue One, the one thing that keeps me and millions other DC fans like me going. The one thing we will always have.
You never, know… all this media attention might make WB / DC change their minds and in turn, change Affleck’s as well.
Help us, Ben. You’re our only hope.