At least one Batman plans on hanging up his cowl. Ben Affleck, in an interview with The Playlist, didn’t specifically mention his role as the Caped Crusader, but spoke broadly about losing interest in the DC Extended Universe and making movies based off previously created intellectual property, better known as IP.
“I don’t want to do IP movies, where you have this sort of built-in audience,” he says. “That’s something I was interested in and liked, and I just don’t like anymore. I like other people who do it. And if you are going to do it, you should love it. And I love something different.”
That declaration comes with a few caveats: Affleck isn’t likely done with all IP, considering the pride he’s taking in his new movie The Tender Bar, which is an adaptation of J.R. Moehringer’s memoir of the same name. There might be a little of his experience with 2004’S Daredevil as well. But chances are the bulk of this sentiment comes from his experience as Batman, a character he was cast as in 2013 and who he has portrayed on screen since 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Back in 2013, Dawn of Justice director Zack Snyder said he wanted Affleck to create a “layered portrayal of a man who is older and wiser than Clark Kent.” Dawn of Justice, now mostly remembered for a scene where Superman and Batman both realize their mothers are named Martha, was widely panned and reportedly left Affleck feeling “humiliated.” The movie was eventually nominated for eight Razzies, including one for Affleck’s performance. (He eventually “lost” to Dinesh D’Souza for his role in the documentary Hillary’s America.)
Then came the saga of Justice League, a movie whose production, Affleck noted in January 2021, coincided with when he “started drinking too much.” The experience of working with Joss Whedon after Snyder was pulled away from the movie due to personal tragedy proved to be a deeply negative one for several cast members, including Gal Gadot and Ray Fisher. In January 2021, Affleck said that he did Batman “for my kids,” and that wearing his costume to a birthday party was “worth every moment of suffering on Justice League.”
But parties aren’t meant to last. While Affleck is reprising his Bruce Wayne in 2022’s The Flash, it appears to have given him some closure on the whole experience. “It was a really nice way to revisit that as the prior experience had been difficult,” he told Variety. “Really fun.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Affleck says that his recent work on Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel is “probably the last theatrical release I’ll have.” One big difference has been the growing technical and artistic abilities of television. A person “can get a good 65-inch flat screen for $180 at Walmart. It’s kind of democratized that access because it’s not the 11-inch black and white that I had when I was a kid,” he says. And on top of that, competing with shows like Succession — which is “just too good” — and Ozark makes a theater even less tempting.
Rather, Affleck imagines a future where “there’ll be three directors” who make non-superhero movies that draw people out to the theaters. While that might sound depressing, Affleck prefers to look on the bright side, which is that while people might be watching at hone instead of in theaters, “they’re watching more, they’re appreciating more.”
One movie people will have to watch on streaming is Deep Water, Affleck’s erotic thriller he made with his ex, Ana de Armas (Knives Out, No Time to Die). An adaptation of a Patricia Highsmith novel — hey, that’s IP! — from Fatal Attraction and 9 1/2 Weeks director Adrian Lyne, Deep Water was supposed to hit theaters in 2020, before being bumped for COVID reasons all the way to 2022. But according to reports, Disney has pulled the movie from theatrical release, with intentions to drop it on Hulu. There’s no current release date.
Regardless, Affleck’s meme status, mostly achieved through smoking sadly, wearing a blue towel while pondering the ocean, and his reunion with early-aughts girlfriend Jennifer Lopez, will not be affected. He’s living his dreams, and they no longer include Batman.