Saturday, July 11, 2015

Ben Affleck's Batman will go solo in Bat-flick

Finally. It's official. And this lifelong, deihard Batman fan couldn't be happier.

Ben Affleck is getting his own Batman film.

(UPDATE — March 30, 2016: Endeavor's co-CEO Patrick Whitesell has told THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER that Affleck has written a script "that is a really cool (Batman) idea, so that's out there as an option.")

And when I say the much-lauded actor and director —who is equally despised or even easily dismissed in some circles — is getting his own movie, that's true in every sense of the phrase.

The next solo film featuring a solo Batman is an all-Affleck affair. He won't just be the star; he likely will direct this Dark Knight movie and help write it. Comics great Geoff Johns gets an assist in the box score — all this from THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. (A little bit on why that makes me slightly nervous later!)

Whether you're down with Batfleck (as fans and the media have affectionately nicknamed the casting choice) as I have been since Day One or not, it's a good time to be a Batman movie fan.

The grim guy from Gotham City will be in five films in four years. That's right -- five movies (!) between next March and August of 2019.

The season of Batfleck kicks off next year with "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" on March 25. Set photos have been leaked (Hollywood-speak for "intentionally released") showing a stuntman in the Batman suit atop a sports car going after its up-to-no-good occupants, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and Jared Leto's amazingly creepy Joker in "Sucide Squad," which is filming now for an Aug. 5 release.

Next is "Dawn of Justice" director Zack Snyder's first installment of "Justice League," which comes out Nov. 17, 2017. I assume that will be followed by Affleck's solo Batman Bat-flick (Batfleck directs a Bat-flick -- get it?). I'm betting on a June or July 2018 release date, since those two prime summer-movie months have been when the other Batman films have been released. Finally, Snyder will release "Justice League Part Two" (hopefully just a tentative title!) on Aug. 14, 2019.

Back to Affleck. I couldn't be happier. (But only if the ears on the Dark Knight's were a bit longer, but that's OK. ...) Affleck is an accomplished actor and I have to say I've thorougly enjoyed every role I've seen him do.

For months, likely starting as soon as Affleck was cast in 2013, there have been rumors, speculation and informed guesses that Affleck would be named the director of a solo Batman film.

In fact, Bill "Jett" Ramey (webmaster and creator of the phenomenal was the first fan to lead that cheering section. Who knows -- his impassioned op-eds may have influenced Warner Bros. Entertainment to make the Batfleck move. Jett was the first person I know of to guess and/or hope Affleck would direct a Batman and/or "Justice League" film; he even proposed Affleck play the Dark Knight -- long before we heard about Snyder's "Dawn of Justice."

This is the armored version of the Batsuit that Ben Affleck
will wear in "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice."
Here, it's on display at the 2105 San Diego Comic-Con International.
Photo courtesy of Asbury Park Press,
I may be in the minority here, but I'm with Jett on this one; an Affleck-directed Bat-flick is great freakin' news. The franchise is in good hands.

Affleck is a great, well-rounded actor who has been in dramas, comedies (although decidedly dark ones), action flicks and yes, the much-maligned "Daredevil" movie from 2013. For reasons somewhat beyond my understanding, fans and the media detest his take on the Man Without Fear. Regardless, that performance clearly shows Affleck has action-star credibility.

Affleck's directing credits are short, but even more impressive than his acting filmography. How many superhero movies can boast their main star -- not to mention its director -- have an Academy Award? (As a director, Affleck won the Oscar for Best Picture for "Argo," which he also helped produce and starred in.)

Let's be honest here, fanboys and fangirls, not many actors or directors would go straight from such a meaty and intense drama such as "Argo" and "Gone Girl" into not one, but four consecutive superhero films. Affleck must know it's worth the risk.

Don't forget Affleck is a certified comic book fan who loves the Batman character. On the set of "The Town" (which Affleck also directed and starred in) he wore a gray T-shirt with the Batsymbol on it. Papparizi also snapped him with his estranged wife, the adorable Jennifer Garner, wearing a steel gray/blue T-shirt adorned with the phrase "Team Batfleck" on the Batsymbol used in the late 1960s "Batman" TV series.

So as far as this lifelong nerd is concerned, Affleck is all in with his fanboy credentials. Otherwise, he wouldn't rock nerdy T-shirts -- much less take the massive risk of jumping back deep into the superhero pool. Keep in mind for years he strictly swore off rejoining the cape-and-cowl crowd after "Daredevil."

The writer-director will co-write his Bat-flick with Johns, a master storyteller who is well versed in all things DC Comics. Heck, he's DC's chief creative officer.

Johns is best known for writing great comic book sagas about The Flash and Green Lantern. His BATMAN: EARTH ONE graphic novel stays true to the Caped Crusader's origins -- with some decided twists -- but honestly, it's standard fare that doesn't add much to the Batman mythos.

The choices in Johns' "Green Lantern" script? Oy! The less said there, the better.

On the plus side, Johns was the primary assistant for world-class director Richard Donner, the man still held in high regard for truly nailing the Superman mythose onscreen.

If Johns can use the wisdom he learned under Donner's tutelage, the mistakes from the not-entirely awful "Green Lantern" movie and gets an assist from Chris Terrio (part of Team Affleck on "Argo" who did a rewrite on "Dawn of Justice" and finished the "Justice League" script), I won't be as nervous about Johns being involved,

Like it or not, this new Batman project falls on the wide shoulders of Affleck's 6-4 frame. That means his Bat-flick will play heavily into what we'll see onscreen with Batman over the next several years, specifically how his Dark Knight interacts with other DC characters and how he functions within the Justice League.

Affleck will have donned the cape and cowl three times (!) before Batfleck goes solo onscreen.

(BTW, here's a cool sidenote: By the time "Justice League Part Two" wraps, Affleck will be the only actor to have played Batman more than three times. By far, his five appearances will surpass Christian Bale's awesome triple-take in the brilliant and cohesive "Dark Knight" trilogy. This would put Affleck in the rare air with Christopher Reeve's Superman (four films), Hugh Jackman's Wolverine (seven -- with two more on the way!) and the main "Avengers" cast members. all of whom have played their comic-book characters multiple times.)

Even by the time we see Batfleck in "Suicide Squad" -- slightly less than five months after "Dawn of Justice" -- Affleck will know the Dark Knight and Bruce Wayne characters intimately. He'll have those roles down by the first "Justice League" film and hopefully hitting his stride by the time his Bat-flick rolls around.

In 2019, Affleck will be 47. If there's anything left in his personal Batmobile tank and his Batman film performs well at the box office and it gets positive critical feedback, don't be suprised if Warner Bros. announces a sequel.

That's right; Affleck could portray Batman six times by the time he hangs up his cape and cowl for good. Besides, that would round out a possible six-film contract the actor may have signed back in 2013. ...
Meme by Cary Ashby/CARY'S COMICS CRAZE
Ultimately, I have faith in Affleck.

I've only seen the teaser trailer for "Dawn of Justice" and read only a handful of things Affleck has said about Wayne/Batman, but I'd down with this. In fact, as I'm pumped as I am, I'm also cautiously optimistic about what Affleck can bring to the cinematic Caped Crusader. Usually, I'm a skeptical realist.

Batfleck could bomb right out of the gate --- But I doubt DC or Warner Bros. would invest so many films starring one man if they didn't have faith, too.

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