Ben Affleck's Justice League Experience Made Him Drop Out Of Directing A Batman Movie

Sometimes, making a major comic book blockbuster isn't all it's cracked up to be. There always tends to be obstacles like production snafus, studio mismanagement, scheduling issues, and all sorts of unpredictable factors coming together to ruin the hard work and best intentions of everyone involved. Most of the time, fans never even hear the half of what went down on set or the battles fought behind closed doors in studio offices. But not every film can be "Mad Max: Fury Road" — succeeding in spite of everything working against it.

"Justice League" will always serve as a cautionary tale on the other extreme end of the spectrum. The cast and crew of the 2017 theatrical cut experienced that rude awakening for themselves. They all had the misfortune of witnessing a production beset by extensive reshoots, director Zack Snyder's personal family tragedy, the studio jockeying to replace the ousted director with "The Avengers" miracle-worker Joss Whedon, and an angsty fanbase furiously keeping track of every negative development along the way.

To nobody's surprise, Ben Affleck has no love lost for the period of time he spent on "Justice League." Though we've previously heard tell of his profound unhappiness while working on the movie, most recently when he referred to the experience as "difficult," Affleck recently spoke out as candidly as ever throughout a profile with The Hollywood Reporter:

"You could teach a seminar on all the reasons why this is how not to do it. Ranging from production to bad decisions to horrible personal tragedy, and just ending with the most monstrous taste in my mouth."

The star understandably has few fond memories of that tumultuous time, which played a significant role in Affleck stepping back from directing a planned "Batman" movie.

'It broke my heart'

The cast of "Justice League" has been vocal about the chaos and mistreatment allegedly occurring during production of "Justice League" under Joss Whedon, but even without that, it's remained clear to fans that this was an excruciating experience for all involved. The chance to finish what they initially started with the HBO Max release of "Zack Snyder's Justice League" at least provided some amount of closure for director and cast alike, giving audiences the ability to see an amalgam of what Snyder originally envisioned. But that came about as too little and too late to make Affleck willing and able to step into the director's chair for his own "Batman" solo film. As he told THR:

"But I was going to direct a 'Batman,' and ['Justice League'] made me go, 'I'm out. I never want to do any of this again. I'm not suited.' That was the worst experience I've ever seen in a business which is full of some s**** experiences. It broke my heart. There was an idea of someone [Joss Whedon] coming in, like, 'I'll rescue you and we'll do 60 days of shooting and I'll write a whole thing around what you have. I've got the secret.' And it wasn't the secret. That was hard."

Affleck certainly isn't holding back whatsoever, telling everyone how he really feels. Based on the final results of the 2017 movie, well, it's obvious that he has a valid grievance here. It's a shame that the disastrous production cost him a chance to put his own spin both in front of and behind the camera with his own "Batman" film, but it's clear that he made the best possible choice for his own well-being. 

'I don't want to squander any more of my life'

The fallout from "Justice League" and the creative overhaul of the DC universe is still reverberating to this day. Elsewhere in the profile with THR, Affleck lays out why he has no interest in directing any of the movies under James Gunn's purview (no, his reasons are not as salacious as it may seem), along with explaining how he thinks he finally "nailed" his portrayal of Batman in the upcoming "The Flash." But people tend to forget that there are human beings underneath the spandex, and Affleck reminds us of that fact as vulnerably as he could.

Referencing his past alcoholism issues, Affleck remembers filming "Justice League" and thinking at one particularly low moment:

"'This isn't the life I want. My kids aren't here. I'm miserable.'  You want to go to work and find something interesting to hang onto, rather than just wearing a rubber suit, and most of it you're just standing against the computer screen going, 'If this nuclear waste gets loose, we'll...' That's fine. I don't condescend to that or put it down, but I got to a point where I found it creatively not satisfying. Also just, you're sweaty and exhausted. And I thought, 'I don't want to participate in this in any way. And I don't want to squander any more of my life, of which I have a limited amount."

The full interview with THR is well worth reading in its entirety. Fans will next get to see Affleck suit up in "The Flash," which hits theaters on June 16, 2023.