Saturday, 25 March 2017

Ben Affleck won't direct The Batman

It was an open secret for months, but a solo outing for Ben Affleck's Batman was officially announced by studio Warner Bros last April, as Zack Snyder's Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice (2016) arrived on screens. Since then we have learned that the current working title is The Batman, that Affleck is himself at work on the script with DC boss Geoff Johns, and that Joe Manganiello has been cast as the villainous Deathstroke. It all seemed to be moving forward efficiently, but now news arrives via Variety that, while he is staying to play Bruce Wayne/Batman and produce The Batman, Ben Affleck has officially decided to step away from the director's chair.

There had been signs of issues with the film in recent months, with no clear answer as to when the script would be finished and no solid word on a production start date. And now the actor has announced that he is going to stick to playing the hero, producing the movie and co-writing the screenplay with Geoff Johns. "There are certain characters who hold a special place in the hearts of millions," Affleck says. "Performing this role demands focus, passion and the very best performance I can give. It has become clear that I cannot do both jobs to the level they require. Together with the studio, I have decided to find a partner in a director who will collaborate with me on this massive film. I am still in this, and we are making it, but we are currently looking for a director. I remain extremely committed to this project, and look forward to bringing this to life for fans around the world."

As for Warner Bros, the studio were quick to issue a statement backing the choice. "Warner Bros fully supports Ben Affleck's decision and remains committed to working with him to bring a standalone Batman picture to life."

It may not stymie the rumours of creative confusion in the Warners Bros and DC Entertainment camp, but at least it has happened now and not as the movie is starting to shoot. But the question now becomes who can take over the job. According to Variety's sources, the shortlist of potential candidates includes Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (2014) veteran Matt Reeves.

As for Affleck's Batman, he will be back on screens in Justice League out this November.

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