Warner Bros. confirms it: Ben Affleck will direct and star in a solo Batman film in the near future.
Part of the studio’s ambitious plans to expand its DC Comics properties involves giving each member of the Justice League a solo film. Superman kicked off DC’s connected superhero-movie universe with “Man of Steel.” Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg all have solo films planned. But until Tuesday, Affleck’s Batman was the only Justice League member not assured a solo film.
We now know that not only is Affleck a part of those solo film plans, but he’ll also be in the director’s chair when he’s not under the cape and cowl.
It has long been rumored that Affleck and Geoff Johns, DC Comics’ chief creative officer, were plotting a solo Batman film. Now, whether Johns will have a deeper consulting role in the next Batman solo film remains to be seen, but he remains the common creative bridge between Warner Bros. and DC Comics.
Although reviews for the current “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” have been mixed at best, Affleck – who portrays a battle-scarred Batman at midlife – has received accolades for his performances.
Meanwhile, multiple factors could have increased the shared appetite in Hollywood for a new Batman solo film.
One possibility is the Easter egg that appears in “Batman v Superman,” in terms of Batman’s past. In that film, we glimpse an empty Robin suit hanging in memoriam in the Batcave. Robin has been killed in this DC cinematic universe. The murderer? All signs point to the next component that can make a new Batman movie sizzle: Jared Leto’s Joker.
Warner Bros./DC is using “Suicide Squad” (opening Aug. 5) to introduce a new cinematic Joker. The creatives surely want to deploy Leto’s Joker in a Bat-film, as well.
The smart move would be to exploit that hanging Robin suit and bring the comic-book tale of the Red Hood to life on the screen. In that story, Jason Todd – the second Robin the Boy Wonder, who was killed by the Joker – comes back to life and hunts down the Clown Prince of Crime. Robin lethally takes down whoever gets in his way and eventually confronts Batman, who he feels wasn’t there for him when he died alone at the hands of the Joker.
And with Zack Snyder having become yet more polarizing a director with “Batman v Superman,” a new face behind camera can’t hurt, either. Snyder is a master of visual art – his movies sometimes look like comic panels come to life. But in terms of storytelling, some Snyder detractors believe that he still hasn’t told a compelling DC Comics story, even with half of the Justice League at his disposal.
Snyder gets another shot with the forthcoming Justice League film. But Affleck has already proved to be a deft director of crime adaptations and political thrillers, so it seems a natural move for the studio to turn to their Bruce Wayne to keep the Batman film franchise alive creatively, as well.