Ben Affleck’s life and career – a sparkling mix of highs and lows marred by scandals, addiction, success, love, fame, and stardom – presents like the stereotypical life of a Hollywood citizen. But beyond the reach of the superficial, there still exists that incendiary spark of greatness that once launched the Boston native into the radar of the industry’s crème de la crème. And it is that touch of greatness that once pushed him toward a project that, to this day, remains one of the most mysteriously failed productions at one of the biggest studios in Hollywood.
Ben Affleck’s Batman Project Turned Some Heads at DC
The controversially celebrated DCEU that originated with Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel witnessed a beautiful universe with an unlikely ensemble cast comprising Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, and Ray Fisher. The SnyderVerse epic that was brought alive by their characters was melancholy, all-consuming, and ambitious in its vision. And in the aftermath of Zack Snyder’s exit, Ben Affleck, a master at his art, decided to carry on the legacy with a solo Batman film.
However, the SnyderVerse curse prevailed and the Batfleck project never came to pass. Even without the added trauma of the death of Snyder’s vision, the Affleck story was dead in the water following a dance of will-they-won’t-they with Warner Bros., considering the erratic state of the studio after the 2017 fiasco.
By 2019, the script that began its genesis with Ben Affleck set to co-write, direct, and star in, changed proprietorship and landed on the desk of Matt Reeves who then announced Robert Pattinson as Affleck’s successor. The untitled Batman film was scrapped after failing to impress Reeves who claimed that the script was “very action-driven… very deeply connected to the DCEU, with major characters from other movies and other comics popping up,” but he felt like “this particular script was not the way I’d want to do [a Batman film].”
As such, a new screenplay was built from scratch, eventually giving rise to the 2022 masterpiece, The Batman.
The Complete Story Behind Batfleck’s Secretive Batman Film
Due to the greatly secretive nature of the original script penned by Ben Affleck, not much is known apart from the fact that Joe Manganiello’s Deathstroke was primed as the film’s main antagonist. However, despite showing promise, Affleck’s decision of stepping away from the solo Batman film was never quite addressed. Commenting on why his script never came to pass, the actor once revealed to The New York Times:
“I showed somebody the Batman script. They said, ‘I think the script is good. I also think you’ll drink yourself to death if you go through what you just went through again.’”
At the time, the extent of behind-the-scenes drama from the Justice League set was not made public. Affleck’s recent THR story reveals the extent of the trauma he endured, including slipping back into addiction and having suicidal thoughts during the grueling filming of Joss Whedon’s film.
Justice League actor, Joe Manganiello, also went on to reveal parts of the script which go on to explain why the Batfleck arc was so horrific for even Reeves to accept in its original form.
“It was a really dark story in which Deathstroke was like a shark or a horror movie villain that was dismantling Bruce’s life from the inside out. It was this systemic thing: he killed everyone close to Bruce and destroyed his life to try and make him suffer because he felt that Bruce was responsible for something that happened to him.”
Cinematographer Robert Richardson, who was attached to Ben Affleck’s solo film, and consequently had a peek at the formulating story, revealed Affleck’s process and why the connection to the DC lore that Reeves sounds so cynical about was an even riskier take than Zack Snyder’s Knightmare timeline:
“He was going more into the insanity aspects, so I think you would’ve seen something a little darker than what we’ve seen in the past, and more into the individual, who’s inside Batman… He was entering into a little more of Arkham, he’s going into where you keep everyone who’s bad, and everyone has shifted. There was a script, but not a loved script. There was a lot of work that [Affleck] was doing to it, he was trying to change it.”
Ben Affleck’s upcoming appearance in The Flash is a significant part, although limited, because of the actor’s wish to honor his role and return to DCU despite his earlier experience. Moreover, the Argo star also addressed his detachment from DC, stating how he doesn’t want to direct something for the franchise under James Gunn, although he respects the director’s vision for the future of DCU.
The Flash premieres on June 16, 2023.