I know what you're thinking. The body of this post should be nothing more than an armored car, overflowing with cash, photoshopped onto Ben Affleck's driveway. And you're not wrong. But my solution for the current situation is far simpler than just throwing money at the problem. In fact, it's all about simplicity and about less money.
Before I go any further, you may have been under a rock for the last few days (or last year, really) and don't know how weird it's been to cover and follow The Batman. I can honestly say that in the years I've been covering the industry, I've never seen anything quite like this, so let me just give you the bullet-points:
- There's been an endless amount of contradicting reports when it comes to this movie
- Whenever someone other than Affleck speaks about it, whether it be a source at Warner Bros speaking to a trusted industry outlet like Variety or The Hollywood Reporter, or one of his co-stars...things seem to be going one way
- Whenever Affleck opens his mouth, they seem to be going another
- Everything about this film has been some sort of strange tug-of-war of information. Whether it be that Affleck is directing it at all (which we all knew would be the case in 2013 when he signed on to appear in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, only for him to finally "officially" take the job in April of 2016), to the film's release date, title, how far along the script is, and even the filming schedule. All of it. It's all been a scattershot mess to follow and report on because everyone keeps contradicting each other
Take it from me. I've been covering this kind of stuff five days a week for years now. This isn't normal, and I think it's making me go prematurely gray.
The latest twist came in the form of this nugget of a quote from Affleck two days ago. He was asked about the state of the film and whether or not he was directing it:
"That's the idea. But it’s not a set thing and there’s no script. If it doesn’t come together in a way I think is really great, I’m not going to do it."
While some are quick to say that he's just reiterating what he's always said, about being in no rush and wanting to make sure that the film is going to be great before he enters production...I think those people are missing the point. He's no longer simply saying "We're not gonna do The Batman until we get it right." With production reportedly set to begin in a few months, he's drawing a line in the sand and saying he won't do it if it doesn't meet his standards. And he's publicly stating that a production Warner Bros. is actively trying to fast-track for a 2018 release isn't at all ready to go before cameras. And(!!!) he's referring to his position as Director as something that is no longer "a set thing" after fans have had eight months of confirmations that it was a set thing.
But okay, now that I'm done catching you up, here's what I think Warner Bros. can do to salvage the situation:
I. Make THE BATMAN The DREDD of Dark Knight Movies
Earlier today, I shared a rumor with you all (courtesy of Batman-On-Film) about Warner Bros. wanting to keep The Batman near its Los Angeles home base, rather than ship it overseas like it has for other upcoming DC movies. While covering that, it dawned on me that they may be trying to appease Affleck, who seems to be ready to bolt at the current rate things are going.
With that in mind, I started thinking of numerous other ways they can grease the wheels and convince Affleck to see The Batman through. For starters, if they do go with a film that's something similar to the Arkham Asylum video game (which was rumored at one point), then it allows for a very streamlined, brief production that essentially takes place on sound stages and tells a very intimate, self-contained story.
I mentioned Dredd in that earlier report. That film took only 13 weeks to shoot, and it had the same general idea: A gritty, self-contained, character-driven action thriller set entirely in one location over the course of one bad day in the life of Judge Dredd. That's similar to how the events depicted in Arkham Asylum technically all took place in a single night.
It'd be a win-win-win for everyone involved. It would keep the budget tight, the time commitment low, and still allow fans to enjoy what they love most about the Batman mythos: The bat and his rogues.
It would also...
II. Limit Affleck's Physical Involvement
Look, as much as us fanboys love these characters, the costumes, the gadgets, and all of the general trappings of these comic book wet dreams we get to experience a few times a year...we have to understand that serious actors don't necessarily feel the same way. In a recent piece I wrote on this topic (which you can SEE HERE), I refer to a quote where Affleck sounds less than in love with the idea of running around in a cape when he's nostalgic for films like Casablanca.
That's why my first suggestion is perfect: Batman would be in his costume damn near the entire time, save for a scene with Alfred (Jeremy Irons) in the beginning where he prepares for his assault on Arkham. And that means they could rely on stunt doubles and stand-ins an awful lot, which means Affleck doesn't have to worry too much about fight choreography and spending 12 hours a day dressed like a giant bat. He would do the dialogue scenes, and some close-ups. That's it.
Before you get all pissy about that, let's take into account that when we see Iron Man, it's 95% likely that we're looking at a stunt double in a suit. Same goes for Spider-Man. Heck, even less obvious characters like Captain America are often likely body doubles. Robert Downey Jr., Tom Holland, Chris Evans, and others have the benefit of being masked, so it can really be anyone in the action sequences their characters appear in. Just like how most of us realized that wasn't even Affleck in the suit for the coolest Bat sequence in Batman v Superman.
So if you're Warner Bros., you propose he does a film like this. A film that won't take long to film, won't have the pressure of a $200 million epic, where he can focus on telling a tense, character-driven spectacle that he doesn't have to be in every shot of, filmed comfortably on their sound stages in Los Angeles, and I think you get Affleck to say everything is "set" again.
But the best part really is that, despite the compromises I've outlined, fans could still get a kickass Batman movie out of this arrangement. In an age of bloated blockbusters with too many moving parts, a Batman movie that feels like Dredd, The Raid, or John Wick would be downright refreshing, exciting, and different than anything we've seen in a Batman movie. It would allow us to see our favorite detective doing what he does best (presumably solving a mystery and tracking someone down in Arkham while kicking ass along the way), and a setting where one of his greatest assets- his rogues- are all front-and-center as he makes his way around the iconic facility.
As always, I value your feedback. Feel free to light up the comments section below and tell me if I'm crazy for thinking this is not only a solution to the current situation between Affleck and Warner Bros, but also the recipe for a classic Batman movie.
Thanks for reading!