Ben Affleck has decided not to direct The Batman for Warner Bros. after weeks of public speculation. The director had said recently that he would not direct the film “if it’s not good enough”. Whether this should be a sign of a dismal script coming down the pipe is uncertain.
Warner Bros. has had difficulty with directors in their extended comic book universe lately. Zach Snyder’s particular style has soured with audiences since 300. The promise of David Ayer’s distinct military style in Suicide Squad ended up as a big joke. With Wonder Woman and Justice League coming out soon, the studio is running out of time to fix the franchise.
DC and Warner seem to be aware of the problem. Last year, they brought in Geoff Johns to co-run DC Films. Since then there’s been much speculation about Johns’ role as Snyder’s professional baby-sitter. Be that as it may, the combination of Johns and Affleck seemed like the level of talent required to fix the DCEU.
This trouble with directors is a problem because the DCEU had promised to be easy for directors. The executives at Warner Bros. said they wanted to build a sandbox by establishing rules for the universe. Once they had, any director would be free to join in and play in it. But now it seems that this is only true if the director who wants to come play is Zach Snyder.
So it seems that it all comes down to Wonder Woman. As if there wasn’t already enough pressure on the first female superhero movie. Patty Jenkins’ film will need the strength of Hercules if it hopes to prop up the entire DCEU. The trailer makes it look entertaining. But it will need to be outstanding for audiences to have any interest in Justice League come the Fall.
It is impossible to know what will happen if the tent does end up folding in. Warner Bros. is in various stages of development on DC films past 2020. The stakes seem to high to bail now. But when the star of your most popular movie refuses to direct it, it’s time to reevaluate at the very least.