Right now there's an extensive (and long overdue) audit of what female actresses and other women involved in the entertainment industry have had to endure behind closed doors. And yet, while the fallout over Harvey Weinstein's longstanding predatory sexual advances is still being fully measured, other male celebrities are finding themselves being called out by women they may have had inappropriate encounters with in the past.
Ben Affleck is currently one of the most high-profile actors being caught up in Hollywood's shocking sexual harassment exposé. As accusations against the Batman actor continue to mount, there's a looming question about how his movies will be affected.
In case you're unaware, this whole controversy started when Ben Affleck spoke out about the Harvey Weinstein scandal over social media. Weinstein was a key figure in helping Ben Affleck become a star, as Weinstein's Miramax film studio put out films like Good Will Hunting and Chasing Amy, which made Affleck a star.
Affleck attempted to condemn how Weinstein had abused his power and authority, but like so many others, he didn't count on the power and reach of social media, and soon found himself facing his own accusations of sexual harassment:
I didn't forget.— Hilarie Burton (@HilarieBurton) October 10, 2017
That's Hilarie Burton, the wife of Walking Dead star Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who worked as an MTV VJ on TRL in the early 2000s, when she was groped by Affleck during an on-camera segment. When reminded of his own bad behavior, Affleck didn't try to deny, instead offering this statement:
I acted inappropriately toward Ms. Burton and I sincerely apologize— Ben Affleck (@BenAffleck) October 11, 2017
I would also love to get an apology from Ben Affleck who grabbed my ass at a Golden Globes party in 2014.— Annamarie Tendler (@amtendler) October 11, 2017
That may seem like timely damage control: however, as you can see above, the situation is still developing, as a second woman has come forward with an accusation of sexual misconduct against Affleck.
This brings us back to the central question: could Justice League suffer from all of controversy surrounding Ben Affleck now?
The current sentiment is that no, these accusations against Ben Affleck will not have much of an adverse affect on Justice League's box office performance - and there's several reasons why.
First of all, Justice League is enough of a milestone comic book "event film" that the details of the actors involved in the film aren't going to matter to the legions of young fans, who are simply coming to see Justice League out of pure DC superhero fandom.
Also, Justice League isn't just a Ben Affleck movie. The film is actually bringing some much-needed diversity to the DCFU, with superheroes of color like Jason Mamoa's Aquaman and Ray Fisher's Cyborg, as well as a newly-crowned pop-culture queen in Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman. So even if the Ben Affleck controversy turns some viewers of, the celebration of Gadot, Fisher, Mamoa, and even LGBTQ actor Ezra Miller will be a much bigger deterrent to the negativity surrounding Affleck.
Finally (and this is sad to say, but) there's already proof that Ben Affleck playing the role of Batman is something of a shield against fan backlash. In a tweet that has since been deleted (but gained a lot of likes/retweets) one fan started what has already become a 'Batman doesn't apologize' slogan; apparently sexual assault can't outweight the thrill of seeing Batman in the movies.
Needless to say, the sentiment is angering a lot of people (if the tweet's deletion is any indication), but the monolith of the Batman character and franchise seems largely impervious to any real impact. If anything, Warner Bros. may take the classic Hollywood stance: protect the product, first and foremost. If these accusations against Affleck continue to mount, we could see the studio pull the actor from the forthcoming press tour, to spare all involved the awkwardness of some scathing reporter questions. After Justice League's release, it also wouldn't be too surprising if we once again hear tell of Affleck possibly moving on from his Batman role.
In the end, Affleck's scandal is just one factor creating a nail-biting final stretch until Justice League is in theaters. Ironically, before there can even be response to the movie, director Joss Whedon has to get done finishing it, after Zack Snyder's departure.
Justice League hits theaters on November 17th. For more reporting on the Ben Affleck scandal, head over to Popculture.com.