Ben Affleck is done with superheroes. In an excellent interview with The Hollywood Reporter (in which he talks about the movie business, dishonest media, his new film Air, and the Grammys), Affleck declares that he will not be making any movies in James Gunn and Peter Safran’s DCU.
“I would not direct something for the [James] Gunn DC. Absolutely not. I have nothing against James Gunn. Nice guy, sure he’s going to do a great job. I just wouldn’t want to go in and direct in the way they’re doing that. I’m not interested in that.”
That’s decisive. It also reveals what everyone probably assumed about those “Hey, maybe someday down the line” comments Gunn made when announcing DCEU actors who wouldn’t be coming back: they were PR nonsense to cushion the blow for fans hoping to see some of these people again. Taking anything hopeful he says about former DC actors or other creatives with a grain of salt would be wise.
As for why Affleck isn’t interested, he doesn’t get into specifics about Gunn, but he does describe the miserable experience he had working on Justice League:
“Justice League … 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 genius, and the silver lining, is that Zack Snyder eventually went to AT&T and was like, ‘Look, I can get you four hours of content.’ And it’s principally just all the slow motion that he shot in black-and-white. And one day of shooting with me and him. He was like, ‘Do you want to come shoot in my backyard?’ I was like, ‘I think there are unions, Zack. I think we have to make a deal.’ But I went and did it. And now [Zack Snyder’s Justice League] is my highest-rated movie on IMDb.”
“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 shitty 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. And I started to drink too much. I was back at the hotel in London, it was either that or jump out the window. And I just thought, ‘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.’”
I don’t blame him. He talks later about making movies in L.A. or working in his new role as CEO of a studio he started with Matt Damon so he can be closer to his kids, and it makes sense. It’s sad that he got that low and depressed. I’m glad he seems to be doing so much better now, and honestly, I’d prefer he make his own movies rather than play in someone else’s sandbox. I was interested in seeing what his Batman movie would’ve been like, but he’s got such a tremendous track record so far – not a bad film among the four he’s directed, even the underrated Live by Night – that I’ll be excited for a movie just because he directed it. His involvement in Air, for example, makes me more interested than I normally would be in a film about Nike sneakers and a sports figure.
He also mentions that his role in The Flash is pretty much a cameo. “For the five minutes I’m there, it’s really great.” That makes his reveal in the trailer even more annoying; between this and Shazam! Fury of the Gods, I guess DC is going to ruin every surprise their upcoming movies have in store. And I’m sorry, but I find it depressing that Justice League is his highest-rated movie on IMDb. Really? Above all the films he’s directed, Good Will Hunting, Gone Girl, The Last Duel, State of Play, Changing Lanes (which is so much better than it looks), or pretty much anything else? I know those IMDb ratings are ridiculed for a reason, but damn.