DC Movie fans have had a rocky introduction to the DC Extended Universe, as films like Man of Steel, Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad have left fans and critics alike split into divisive love/hate camps.
The horizon was supposed to be brighter for the DCEU, as the upcoming slate of films (Wonder Woman, Justice League) are supposedly going to put things on a better foot. In addition, there were highly-anticipated films to come after Justice League - and none was more anticipated than Ben Affleck's The Batman.
However, it seems as though the DCEU curse is continuing, as in the last twenty-four hours, The Batman has gone from being one of the clearest and easy priorities on DC/WB's list to being a project that's showing early warning signs of freefall.
Ben Affleck has dropped out of the director's chair of The Batman - and though he did so by expressing his desire to focus entirely on the other duties he's taken on (writing and starring in the film), there's early talk that Affleck could end up stepping even further back from the project.
Forbes writer Mark Hughes did an extensive breakdown of the situation with Ben Affleck and Warner Bros. He looks at everything from Affleck's public frustrations with the poor reception of Batman v Superman, the long DC production schedules, and constant media attention, to the marked difference between DC/WB's public insistence of stability in the DCEU vs. the clear creative frictions that continue to exist (for example: The Flash movie also recently lost its director). Taking all those factors into account, Hughes goes so far as to say that, based on his own sources around the studio, Affleck could go so far as to drop out of the Batman role altogether!
Here's the quote from Forbes' Mark Hughes:
"Unfortunately, among the things I heard about his departure as director, I heard a few specifics that — if true — lead me to worry there is at least a chance Affleck could also walk away from starring in the picture. I don’t feel those concerns are as likely to bear fruit, and I still expect Affleck will finish the screenplay as planned and then start prepping for the role by getting into “Batman shape” to ensure he’s physically and mentally prepared for the role. That said, I do believe there’s a chance now that Affleck could depart the project as an actor, winding up merely serving as cowriter and producer."
Speaking personally, we here at Comicbook.com believed early on that Affleck could leave The Batman director's chair. Following that very same train of thought, it wouldn't (or won't) be surprising if he drops out of starring as well, and simply takes the safe bet of scriptwriting payment and producer points. It's low work and low risk for Affleck, in case he's not confident about how the studio wants to approach the film.
Still, we speak for many, many, Batman fans when we say: having Affleck still writing and starring is something we definitely hope for. If he drops out, it would be a very bad (fatal?) blow to the DCEU.
More DCEU: Matt Reeves Reportedly On The Batman Director Shortlist | 5 Directors that Could Replace Ben Affleck | Why WB Should Respect Ben Affleck's Vision | Green Lantern Rumored For Justice League | Zack Snyder Reveals New Look At Wonder Woman In Justice League | Ben Affleck Assembles The Batman League In All Batmen Mashup | Amy Adams Talks Batman V Superman Extended Cut And Justice League
In Justice League, fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes—Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash—it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.
The DCEU continues when Wonder Woman opens in theaters on June 2, 2017, followed by Justice League on November 17, 2017; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020. The Flash, The Batman, Dark Universe and Man of Steel 2 are currently without release dates.