In an exclusive report from Variety today, Ben Affleck revealed that he and Warner Brothers have made the “mutual” decision to have him step down as director of the upcoming film “The Batman”. Affleck will remain under the cowl in role of Bruce Wayne/Batman, a role he took on in last year’s “Batman vs. Superman – Dawn of Justice” before reprising the role in both “Suicide Squad” and in the upcoming “Justice League” film. Affleck will also remain as producer of the film, which he co-wrote with DC Comics’ Chief Creative officer Geoff Johns.
In a statement, Affleck said:
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.
The move is being portrayed as a mutual decision designed to ensure that Affleck is free to focus on giving his performance more attention, suggesting that directing and starring in such a large-scale project might have been too much to take on. While that’s certainly an easy point to concede, it’s hard not to notice this move also comes hard on the heels of Affleck’s first disappointment as a director with his gangster epic “Live By Night” faced with tepid reviews and poor box office resulting in a projected $75 million loss for Warners.
This also comes after a video from Entertainment Tonight Canada recently circulated of a clearly tired and frustrated Affleck on the publicity trail for “Live By Night” commenting on continuing focus on “The Batman” project to the exclusion of everything else he’s working on:
Oh my God, it’s such a pain in the ass. It’s, like, every time I mention Batman it gets this huge click bait. And when I was doing this movie (“Live by Night”), it took me two years to get it together, but no one ever asked me “Where is “Live by Night?” They ask me, Batman, Batman, Batman. Batman is coming along. It’s going to be great. We’re going to make something really special. We’re going to take the time to make it right. We’re going to do it good. We’re going to do it the right way and the fans are going to love it.
Though there are rumors circulating about possible names to replace Affleck as director, no one has yet been announced to take over the film. “The Batman” will be released in 2018.