It may be good, it may be bad, but either way, Ben Affleck is no longer directing The Batman. After months of bizarrely conflicting reports and uncertainty about what the status of the first standalone Batman movie in the DC Extended Universe was, it is now clear that Ben Affleck's plate was a little too full trying to write, direct, produce and star in the movie. Now, Warner Bros. needs to find a new director and there is already a rumored frontrunner.
According to Variety, the studio already has a shortlist and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves is reportedly on the top of that list. None of the other director's names were revealed, but Warner Bros. appears to be trying to court Matt Reeves, who most recently directed War for the Planet of the Apes, which is set for release this summer. Matt Reeves also directed the 2008 monster flick Cloverfield and the 2010 horror movie Let Me In, which was a remake of the Spanish vampire movie Let the Right One In. He certainly seems like a logical choice and probably a popular one, given his track record as a director.
Ben Affleck revived his career via directing, with his first three directorial efforts, Gone Baby Gone, The Town and Argo all doing very well critically and financially, with Argo going on to win the Oscar for Best Picture. However, his latest movie, Live By Night, will go down as the first major box office bomb of 2017 and didn't fare well with critics. Variety's sources say that the decision had nothing to do with the results of Live By Night, but that the decision was motivated by what is best for the movie. According to a separate report by The Hollywood Reporter, an insider claims that Live By Night caused Ben Affleck to "rethink his approach to his projects." Their report also claims that he and the execs at Warner Bros. have been unhappy with the script for The Batman solo movie for weeks. Here is what Ben Affleck had to say about his decision.
"There are certain characters who hold a special place in the hearts of millions. 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."
Ben Affleck is still going to star in and produce The Batman, but he is going to need to find a "partner in a director," as he put it, to helm the project. Assuming Matt Reeves doesn't want to do another Planet of the Apes movie for Fox, his schedule is free and clear in terms of directing. So, if Warner Bros. can talk him into it, he could likely be the guy. It is most definitely an outside shot, but The LEGO Batman movie director Chris McKay recently expressed interest in directing a DCEU movie and even said that he was going to meet with Warner Bros. about it. It isn't out of the realm of possibility that he could maybe get a crack at a live-action Batman movie, with early indication being that he did a fine job with the Lego version.
We are going to see Ben Affleck as Batman once again in Justice League this November before the Batman solo movie, which is expected to shoot sometime this year. Joe Manganiello has been cast to play the villain Deathstroke, with J.K. Simmons playing Commissioner Gordon and Jeremy Irons returning to play Alfred. There is no word yet on a release date for The Batman, but all signs point to Warner Bros. still being very committed to doing the movie, they just need to fill the director's chair. We will be sure to keep you up to date as more information on The Batman becomes available.