Samuel Brace with three things to take away from Ben Affleck’s The Batman saga…
The past week has been all over the place with regards to Ben Affleck’s forthcoming Batman solo film. Is he going to direct it? Is he not going to direct it? Is the script horrible? Is it fine? Is production on schedule or is it being pushed back? Back and forth, back and forth, on and on we go. As touched on here, every day brings a new wrinkle and frankly a new reason to shout, “JUST STOP! WRITE THE DAMN MOVIE”.
Affleck’s need to comment on every question regarding the project and then contradict himself is becoming frustrating. Of course it’s the media’s job to ask questions fans want to hear, but what fans need to ask themselves is do they really need to hear this stuff and is this circus good for a movie that isn’t’ even written yet? It has all been very revealing, but here are the three main things take away from this whole *tries not to say mess* saga.
If Affleck doesn’t like it, what does that say?
Ben Affleck’s recent comments saying he will only direct the film if he is happy with the script that he is writing, is an obvious comment when taken in the context of any other film. Of course if you write the script for something, then don’t like it, you are unlikely to pursue bringing that film to life. But with The Batman, regardless if Affleck likes the script he’s written and chooses not to direct, WB will make the film anyway. And this poses a very real issue.
If and when the film finally arrives, and we know Affleck wrote the script but didn’t direct the film, what does that tell us? It tells us that he doesn’t think much of it because… well… he told us so. Therefore, if he doesn’t have confidence in the film, then why on earth should we? It doesn’t exactly instil confidence and that fact will be hard to forget while watching. Regardless of actual truth, when sitting down in a theatre, you want to believe that everything is hunky dory. But if this situation manifests itself, behind every Bruce Wayne scowl audiences will know that even Batman himself didn’t think this was worth a damn, and is essentially there only to fulfil a contract. Not a great look.
Is the saga around The Batman an intentional ploy to drive expectations into the ground?
For many, expectations for the DCEU are already low after Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. But is it possible that all this drama over the quality of the The Batman’s script and Affleck’s ‘will he, won’t he’ has the intention of driving expectations so far below zero that we are pleasantly surprised when the film is decent? I mean come on, the damage is done, and no one should be expecting much of this film or any other DC property. It would be a believable explanation because if not, what on earth is the idea here?
This is obviously the preferred scenario but ultimately it’s incredibly unlikely. It’s incredibly unlikely because it would be a dumb as hell tactic, and a very dangerous ploy to play with hype for the film. The more likely scenario is that things are just rough and Affleck isn’t enjoying the pressures of being hounded after every new scene he writes (who the hell would? This is not how art is created). This entire palaver is damaging and revealing a very real problem with the attention we place on superhero films. If a better product is what folks want, things need to change, and with the current state of play, it is not surprising when the finished product on such movies is less than desirable.
Speculation in the wrong places can be hurtful
The pressure on these films is asinine. All this attention and pressure on the sequel to a film that many disliked, in a franchise that people love to hate, is crazy and obviously unhealthy for the film. There should be little to no expectation on The Batman apart from a financial one by WB. This isn’t the case however. People might not believe the film will be great or even good but fans are still desperate for details, caring more about who is cast in the movie, what C list cameo the film will contain, and obsessing over frankly irrelevant information to the film’s actual quality. It’s not just morbid curiosity here. It’s an addiction to details.
With expectations so high for films such as this – not expectations born from excitement for a brilliant movie, but for more pop culture nourishment – it will start to make films fan driven and not artistically driven. This is not good, gang. We don’t want to tell artists what we want, we want to be given something and be told that this is what we want. This is the way it has always worked. This is how art works. The role of a creator, performer and artist, is to utilise their creativity, to go to work and bring the world something to consume or reject. It is then their job, or a marketer’s job, to convince us that this is what we want. Outside of the arts, this is why a company like Apple, during the Steve Jobs era, was so successful.
The truth is fans really don’t need to be so involved during this embryonic stage. Yes, we get excited when something we care about is in the process of being created, but we need to think about if all this attention during the formulation process is healthy. The proof on display suggests that it defiantly isn’t, and the effects of the pressure formed by that attention are palpable. Affleck should be away somewhere, not talking to people, writing the script that he wants to write in a time allocated to him by WB. And then guess what, guys? Then they can make the film. That is the time when fans should get involved, that is when details should start to emerge, and that is when creators should start talking, promoting something that is already formed, already real.
There is something to be said for the old adage ‘if you can’t take the heat, then get out of the kitchen’, but in this scenario there is nowhere for someone like Affleck to go. Cinema in 2017, cinema that people are willing to pay for, only contains what is most shiny. The dilemma here isn’t nebulous. Obviously we like all the plethora of news that has been arising — it’s something fun for us to talk about. But looking purely from the prospective of someone that wants the best possible product, this kind of behaviour has to stop. Filmmakers need to make their films the way they believe they should be made. Marketing companies need to promote the film, with a little help from the actors, but with an emphasis away from details and a focus on themes. And last of all, fans need to stop obsessing over every little detail and just turn up on the day, to judge a film based on its merits or lack thereof.