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Ben Affleck deserves credit for knowing when to walk away. Not that he's allowed to completely walk away from Batman without being asked about it during every interview. The news is still pretty fresh that he is definitely out as the DCEU's Batman -- not just as writer and director of The Batman solo movie, but also as the star. He finally confirmed his exit in a tweet, and added more thoughts during a brief retirement ceremony on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Now he's trying to promote his new movie Triple Frontier, but of course the Bat-Signal shined on him once again. He was asked what he was going to do with Batman in his movie. Here's his candid response:
That was part of the problem. We worked on the script, I was trying to figure out how to crack it, and I was never happy enough with it where I thought it was worth going out and making it, because I just didn't want to do a version that I wasn't really excited by. So I still don't know.
It doesn't get much more honest than "I still don't know" and "that was part of the problem," as Ben Affleck admitted to IGN in a video interview surrounded by his Triple Frontier castmates.
Too often movies move forward with subpar scripts just to take the money and run. At least you can give Ben Affleck props for not wanting to force another mediocre superhero movie down the world's throat. He has more respect for Batman than that. Maybe that's taking the naive Pollyanna approach, but so be it. I choose to believe this mostly coming from a place of creative honesty -- "I'm not the one to tell this story after all" or even "Shit, my script really sucks" -- and not about anything else behind-the-scenes.
This has been a long journey for DC, Warner Bros., and Ben Affleck. This Batman standalone movie was first announced in 2014, and then tied to Affleck as star, director, and co-writer in 2016. Affleck co-wrote a screenplay -- or tried to -- with Geoff Johns. But in January 2017, Affleck announced that he would no longer direct the Batman movie. At the time, though, he was still planning to star in the movie.
Here's the statement Ben Affleck made to Variety at the time:
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.
Matt Reeves was already on the shortlist at that point, and he did end up taking on the job of director. He also then took over the role of screenwriter, crafting his own story. The Batman movie has a 2021 release date, but it doesn't have a cast. Since Ben Affleck is out as Batman, there's been all kinds of speculation about who might be in. Reeves is reportedly looking for a familiar face to play Batman, and someone in a specific age range; the age range wasn't made public, but he's said to be looking for a younger Bruce Wayne.
It sounds like Matt Reeves has a clear vision for what he wants, which is what Ben Affleck admitted he lacked for this project.
Ben Affleck fully supports Matt Reeves, as he made clear in his initial tweet basically confirming his long-rumored exit as director/star/writer of the Batman movie. The Batman is currently scheduled for release on June 25, 2021. That's still a long way off (and it could always be moved), so keep up with what's coming to theaters this year with our handy 2019 movie schedule.