Kevin Smith - Why Ben Affleck Left The Batman

Kevin Smith may not be everyone’s favorite filmmaker, but the guy has decades’ worth of experience working in the industry. As a filmmaker, Smith sees how the business side operates, and he’s been involved in the early stages of development on some attempted blockbusters. He’s also had bit parts in a few of them, as well as directed a couple episodes of shows like The Flash and Supergirl recently. That’s why everyone now and then, listening to what he has to say can be very valuable.

In the case of the news regarding Ben Affleck no longer directing The Batman, listening to Smith has even more advantages. First, Smith is a huge Batman fan just like millions of you out there; he even has a podcast dedicated to it called Fatman on Batman. Second, he’s known Ben Affleck for years professionally and personally (even though they haven’t talked in quite awhile, thanks to a rift created by the actor’s relationship with Jennifer Garner). So when Smith theorizes as to why Affleck might have turned down directing The Batman after working on it for a couple years, what he says just might hold some weight.

Find out what Kevin Smith says about why Ben Affleck left The Batman after the jump.

It’s Kevin Smith’s Fatman on Batman podcast where a lengthy discussion about this topic took place:

For those who don’t have 22 minutes to spare, here are the important parts of the discussion from Smith:

Let’s talk about why? Why would this happen? I don’t know. I haven’t spoken to him in years, but here’s my take on it. Here’s my hot take. What’s the upshot? Seriously. Everybody wants that to be the greatest Batman movie ever made, and you know, in many cases, maybe the greatest Batman movie ever made has been made, called The Dark Knight, it’s a pretty wonderful film. If that’s your bar for a Batman standalone, Chris Nolan couldn’t even measure up to himself with The Dark Knight Rises. I liked it but it wasn’t received nearly as well. Let’s be honest like that Joker portrayal is for the ages. Fucking beyond brilliant and shit.

Sure, the pressure is on for Ben Affleck to make a great Batman movie, especially since his portrayal of the Caped Crusader was one of the things that even naysayers of Batman v Superman rather enjoyed. Every interview he’s done since he was linked to The Batman had reporters asking about the status of the project, so much that he even spoke out about how frustrating it was. That might have been the key to him falling away from the project, after seeing just how desperate fans were getting for him to make this movie.

When it comes to directing something by Live by Night, which didn’t get received all that well by critics and audiences, Affleck doesn’t have to worry about impressing a fanbase or being held under such high levels of scrutiny. Those kind of movies aren’t as demanding, in some ways. So Smith continues:

It’s a tall order man, so maybe he’s the kind of guy who’s just like ‘why bother?’ Why am I going to step up to the plate, no matter what I do people are going to bitch? If it ain’t fucking The Dark Knight, I’m fucked, but if I’m just acting in it, my name’s Paul and this is between ya’ll, I’m just the Bat, that’s it. The guy or girl tells me what to do and go and so you got a beef with the movie? Talk to these motherfuckers. That’s easier. That’s an easier life. You don’t have to sit there and take the slings and arrows.”

That’s a fair assessment of the situation. Let’s say Ben Affleck did direct a good Batman movie. He gets praise and then moves on to the next thing. But fans would want him to do another one, and surely the studio would too. So from Affleck’s perspective, he’s going to take on this huge endeavor, just so he can potentially get reamed by fans and critics for it. And then even if it turns out to be an impressive piece of comic book cinema, he’s just going to feel that pressure all over again. There does seem to be little reward for a filmmaker like Affleck to direct and star in a movie like this, something that no one has done in the superhero genre before.

Let’s just hope that whoever steps up to direct The Batman (we have some suggestions on who should be hired) is able to handle all the pressure that comes with it. There’s a lot riding on this movie, and hopefully the arrival of Wonder Woman and Justice League this year will help relieve some of that pressure, assuming it starts to get the DC Expanded Universe back on the right track.

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