Less than 24 hours have passed since Ben Affleck surprised everyone by exiting the director’s chair of “The Batman,” and there is plenty to talk about. Indeed, Forbes has gone really long on what kind of impact Affleck’s departure from the captain chair’s of the movie might see, and spitballs no shortage of scenarios that might play out. But let’s start with what everyone is thinking about: Who will take over and direct the movie?
Among the names reported to be floating are Matt Reeves, Gavin O’Connor, Denis Villeneuve, Matt Ross, and George Miller. As I wrote yesterday, O’Connor seems like a natural fit, having directed Affleck in last fall’s hit “The Accountant,” and showing a strong knack for gritty action. However, I’d wager that his involvement would depend on how quickly Paramount want “The Green Hornet,” which has O’Connor attached, and happens to be a dream project for the filmmaker.
On paper both Reeves and Villeneuve seem like no-brainer choices, though I’d wonder if the former wants to jump from the mega-franchise ‘Planet Of The Apes‘ right into another one, while the latter tends to be more of a sci-fi fan than comic book enthusiast (hence “Blade Runner 2049” and a reboot of “Dune“). Miller also makes sense on paper, and of course, was set to make “Justice League: Mortal” years ago before it fell apart, but he doesn’t seem to be in a big rush to make anything after “Mad Max: Fury Road,” and has expressed a desire to direct a smaller film first before going back into blockbuster mode.
As for Ross, who broke out last year with “Captain Fantastic,” he doesn’t have any tentpole experience at all, and seems like an odd choice to be in the mix here. Also, where are the female directors?
All this said, it’s becoming apparent that “The Batman” — once aiming to start filming this spring — probably isn’t going to make a 2018 release date at this point. However, more worrying is that “The Batman” is reportedly going through script problems, and in Affleck’s statement yesterday, while he noted his continued involvement as a producer and actor, there was no mention of the screenplay he was co-writing with Geoff Johns. And Forbes posits that script woes, combined with a handful of other personal and professional factors, could see Affleck exiting playing the lead role in “The Batman” altogether. And if that happens, it’s going to have quite a domino effect around DC Films projects as a whole.
I’m not sure I quite buy that, but then again, nobody saw Affleck bailing on directing the movie coming either. Either way, it’s another big blow for DC Films, who are still managing the dual director fallout of “The Flash” as well. And the weeks and months ahead are going to be very interesting, as Warner Bros. really needs to get a grip on their comic book movies if they want any chance at Marvel style success and longevity.