Aug 09 2012

Ben Affleck May Direct and Star in Justice League

Published by at 5:52 pm under Superhero Movies

Examiner: “Currently no deal is in place and it is far from being a sure thing. Warner Bros. and DC have a “Justice League” script by William Beall they have sent Affleck to gauge his interest as both a director and potential star. Affleck has had a spotty acting career, including playing the Marvel hero, ‘Daredevil,’ but he has excelled as a director.”

 

He has enough mediocre-to-bad action movies among his credits that I would be concerned about him acting in a superhero movie–in particular, Daredevil, Pearl Harbor, Armageddon, The Sum of All Fears and Gigli ranged from discouraging to Gigli. He did much better in The Town and Good Will Hunting, but I didn’t see much there which would translate very well to superhero action. Granted, some actors do much better in one role than another (e.g. Chris Evans as Captain America vs. the Human Torch or Brandon Routh as Todd Ingram in Scott Pilgrim vs. Superman), but his acting career leads me to not expect very much from him in a superhero action role.

  • He has a harder time making his characters likable. In contrast, Christian Bale and Robert Downey Jr. find ways to keep viewers rooting for troubled and/or socially dysfunctional characters. Edkugator mentioned in the comments below that Affleck would probably do well as Guy Gardner or Booster Gold–I think that’s a good point if they’re looking for an unlikable and/or obnoxious protagonist. (If they’re considering that path, though, I’d like to encourage them to look at Pixar’s and Marvel/Disney’s success with characters which have personalities AND likability. I think WB has had trouble giving superheroes personality without making them creeps and/or assholes–in particular, that was a problem for Superman Returns and Green Lantern).
  • I don’t think his acting ceiling is all that high. I’ve never seen him grab scenes like RDJ or Heath Ledger have.  He doesn’t even have Will Smith’s ability to take a film from bad to watchable.

 

His roles as a director and/or screenwriter have been more promising. The three films he’s directed (The Town, Gone Baby Gone, and Boiler Room) have averaged 85% on Rotten Tomatoes.  If DC/WB thought that he was the best director they could get, I’d probably give them the benefit of the doubt there.  Conversely, I’d be amazed if they could get an extremely promising director for a project which has so many red flags.*

 

UPDATE: Ben Affleck dismisses the reports: “Justice League sounds really exciting, but it’s not something I’m working on.”

 

*WB’s performance with DC superheroes (besides Batman) over the past 12 years has been mostly disastrous. DC/WB’s non-Batman movies have averaged 44% on Rotten Tomatoes since 2000 and 34.6% since 2007. Only Batman has done well enough to get a sequel and even he will get rebooted now that the Nolan series has ended. In contrast, Whedon got a huge assist on The Avengers from successful movies developing Iron Man, Captain America and Thor. (Whedon and Marvel took the Hulk in a new direction for The Avengers, but even there the first two Hulk movies were useful in showing what to avoid–WB/DC doesn’t have that level of critical/audience feedback for most of the Justice League characters).

22 responses so far

22 Responses to “Ben Affleck May Direct and Star in Justice League”

  1. WritingNinjaon 09 Aug 2012 at 7:09 pm

    After the line up of really bad DC movies (minus the new Batman movies) I am not sure what to think. Maybe it will be good? I hope.

  2. B. McKenzieon 09 Aug 2012 at 7:58 pm

    “Maybe it will be good? I hope.” Over the past five years, DC/WB’s non-Batman movies have averaged 38.7% 35% on Rotten Tomatoes. Factoring in that this Justice League film is probably an unusually difficult project (because it’s introducing so many new characters), I think the prospects are daunting.

    UPDATE: I mistakenly attributed several DC movies from other studios to WB. In actuality, WB’s non-Batman DC movies (Catwoman, Constantine, Superman Returns, V for Vendetta, Watchmen, Jonah Hex, and Green Lantern) have averaged 44% since 2000 and 35% since 2007.

  3. Contra Gloveon 10 Aug 2012 at 7:06 am

    Perhaps they’re trying to beat Avengers.

  4. Frenzyon 10 Aug 2012 at 7:55 am

    @Contra That is a big ask. And as both WritingNinja and B. McKenzie pointed out, DC doesn’t exactly have a good track record when it comes to movies.
    I’m hoping it’s going to be good, though, I’m not holding my breath. I feel as if one of the reasons Avengers did so well was because a lot of the characters were developed way before the actual Avengers movie, in their own movies or as characters in those stand-alone movies, i.e. Black Widow in Iron Man 2 or Nick Fury in Iron Man and Captain America. Heck, even Tony Stark was at the end of Hulk. Avengers had been a long anticipated movie that was been built up over the stand-alone marvel movies, and we already got to know the characters in them, which made Avengers all the more better., because we got to see how they would gel together.
    Maybe if they did that and build up towards a Justice League movie like Marvel built up to an Avengers movie, it would do better. It may be better than just introducing all the new characters in one movie. But that is most likely not going to happen.
    But, hey. It might still be good. And even if it isn’t, I tend to like supposedly bad movies, so that’s something . . . for me, at least.

  5. Edgukatoron 10 Aug 2012 at 8:38 am

    To be fair, Affleck is not the worst star in the world, but he got typecast as a leading man when there is too much of an egotistical edge to most of his characters. This is why he wasn’t the best fit for Daredevil, but he was great as Holden in Chasing Amy… you could tell that deep down he’s a good guy, but you really just want to smack him in the face at some point.

    He would be perfect to play a Booster Gold or Guy Gardner role.

  6. B. Macon 10 Aug 2012 at 9:41 am

    “Affleck is not the worst star in the world… but you really just want to smack him in the face at some point.” Agreed. I think he’d be relatively well-suited for a role where likability was not crucial (e.g. a side role–I agree Booster Gold is a great fit).

  7. aharrison 10 Aug 2012 at 1:05 pm

    Personally, I think WB is just trolling people at this point. They don’t seem to have any real intent to take an actual serious stab at a Justice League movie. I think they just release news to watch the excitement or rage and sit back to watch.

  8. Contra Gloveon 10 Aug 2012 at 1:06 pm

    So this is how Wonder Woman will get a movie.

    At least have her in the bikini. Her butt will likely be the only thing in the movie worth watching. But I won’t go to the theater to see it.

  9. Wilon 10 Aug 2012 at 1:34 pm

    He can be Aquaman, because his acting is as useful as his powers.

    I’m not a big fan of his directed movies, but they were definitely not as terrible as his performance in Daredevil.

  10. B. McKenzieon 10 Aug 2012 at 4:02 pm

    “He can be Aquaman, because his acting is as useful as his powers.” 😀

  11. Pixon 16 Aug 2012 at 5:47 am

    Such negativity!

    The Justice League movie is going to happen; DC and Marvel are like children throwing rocks in the playground, and Avengers was a big stone. No way is DC going to sit back without at least trying to hurl an almost impossibly big rock back.

    Yes, there is a chance DC will drop their almost impossibly big rock on their toes, but are you really not going to cheer them on for trying? Heck, maybe it will work. Maybe we will be landed with one of the best movies ever.

    Batman is actually the biggest problem holding the project back; he’s just jumped out of Nolan’s warped little world and will now have to be rebooted in order to appear in any JL movie. And JL won’t survive without the bat. OR move the JL into the Nolanverse which… isn’t a good idea.

    So, WB has time to make the prerequisite movies while waiting for Batman to be ready to fly once more. Hey, it figures out okay in the end.

    So why all the negativity?

  12. B. McKenzieon 16 Aug 2012 at 6:15 am

    “So why all the negativity?” I really want to be pleasantly surprised by Justice League, but besides Nolan, what has DC/WB come out with in the past 12 years to warrant positivity? It’s possible it will be a great film, but at this point, that would be a huge surprise.



    In particular, I’d be at least really nervous about and perhaps even terrified by the huge delays and screenwriter Will Beall. He has extremely limited movie writing experience (he’s only completed Gangster Squad) and his TV writing experience, according to IMDB, is limited to Castle. Compare to Joss Whedon’s credentials at the time he was writing Avengers: he had introduced a major superhero (Buffy)*, made cult classics with Firefly and Dr. Horrible, and received an Oscar nomination for co-writing Toy Story. Biall might well be a great writer, but most unknowns aren’t. My recommendation would be generally sticking to proven talent at major positions on major projects. I fear Biall will be the next Pitof (the guy who directed Catwoman). Before Catwoman, Pitof had only directed one movie (Vidocq). He was in completely over his head.

    *In comics, she’s probably the bestselling superhero introduced in the last 20 years.

  13. Pixon 17 Aug 2012 at 1:52 am

    Yes, DC hasn’t been doing well in the film industry. Of late I do believe that is changing (got high hopes for superman and take a look at some of the recent animated films).

    Beyond that DC has excelled in other mediums in the areas which they failed in some of their films. Take the Batman Arkham game series for example: the script writing, cinematography, acting etc. All what was missing from GL.

    I understand why many fans fear the outcome, but I think they can do it if they really give it a shot. The DC comic characters, in my opinion, are better. The story lines, gritter. And the JL has a longer richer history than the avengers.

    I’m keen.

  14. B. McKenzieon 17 Aug 2012 at 3:18 am

    “I understand why many fans fear the outcome, but I think they can do it if they really give it a shot.” I’m not sure if the issue with the previous movies is that they haven’t been giving it a shot (i.e. not working hard enough). WB has put hundreds of millions of dollars into DC movies. My $.01* is that the issue is less a lack of commitment and more an issue of creative skills and decision-making at nearly every level (especially screenwriting and acting, but also directing, visual design and special effects). Keeping projects on time has also proven to be a major issue (e.g. Justice League being 5+ years late and Green Lantern getting rushed). I think project selection and budget allocation is also an issue… Green Lantern had a larger budget than Dark Knight and Constantine had a budget comparable to Batman Begins.

    “The DC comic characters, in my opinion, are better.” I’m not sure how helpful that is when it comes to movies. The media and the target audiences are very different. In particular, I think characters with relatively limited superpowers have more cinematic potential–e.g. Nightcrawler’s roll through the White House was incredible, but having Superman do something similar would be incredibly boring because there’s no challenge for him. In addition, I think agility-based powers are more likely to generate interesting visuals than strength/invulnerability. Then there’s the issue of personality. I don’t think it’s a strong point for Superman or Wonder Woman. (Then again, I don’t think it’s a strong point for Captain America, either, but his screenwriters have figured out how to make mostly-archetypical characters very interesting). Relatability has also been cited as a reason that DC movies have tended to struggle. Personally, I don’t think it’s a huge issue as long as the characters have a somewhat three-dimensional personality and solid protagonist-vs-protagonist conflicts. (For example, Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne do not have relatable origins, although I think Tony Stark is relatable in that he uses his capabilities in a way that most guys would in a similar situation… or so we would like to believe).

    *At this point, I doubt I could get two cents for my take on the movie industry.

  15. YellowJujuon 23 Aug 2012 at 9:58 pm

    So I’m a bit of a duct tape crafter and I’m wanting to make a set of Justice League magnets. Which characters are a must to include in the set?

  16. YellowJujuon 23 Aug 2012 at 11:00 pm

    I’m doing their logos.

  17. Scarecrowon 24 Aug 2012 at 5:00 am

    I think the must be JL characters would be Batman, Superman, Wonderwoman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman and Martian Manhunter. But that’s just my opinion.

    I just can’t see how DC would be able to make this movie. Sure, most people will know about Superman and Batman, but after that most people don’t know very much about the others. I just don’t see how a Justice League movie could work, without having prequel movies beforehand.

  18. Wilon 28 Aug 2012 at 7:51 am

    It’s now been confirmed that Ben Affleck will NOT be directing the JL movie. Personally, I am relieved to hear this news.

    http://social.entertainment.msn.com/movies/blogs/the-hitlist-blog.aspx?feat=24ea7956-a3ef-4ecf-a577-0dbb68c337b7

  19. Dr. Vo Spaderon 19 Sep 2012 at 6:22 pm

    For Scarecrow: I’m sad that I agree. Although, I would have added Green Arrow to my que.
    For Wil: I must say that I agree, and Will Beall has been hired as the screenwriter as of June 6th of this year.

  20. B. McKenzieon 19 Sep 2012 at 10:00 pm

    “Will Beall has been hired as the screenwriter as of June 6th of this year.” I’m definitely open to a pleasant surprise and will certainly see the movie if/when it comes out. My expectations are really low, though. I’m hoping for a diamond-in-the-rough scenario (e.g. Kick-Ass, First Class or Chronicle), but the situation looks really rough. I’d predict somewhere between 30-45% on Rotten Tomatoes. Maybe 40-50% if Man of Steel does well.

  21. L05T 80Yon 20 Sep 2012 at 11:05 pm

    There are several parts of this movie which could potentially (and will probably) destroy the movie.
    1. Batman, or at least the Christain Bale Batman, as his final appearance as Batman was confirmed to be in DKR, and many viewers wouldn’t be able to connect with a brand new actor behind the cowl, as we’ve gotten used to Bale being Batman since his debut in the role in 2005.
    2. Aquaman and Wonder Woman, because of there being no previous films with them featured, so it’ll be a entirely new part of DC cinema. And not a lot of people actually like Aquaman as a character.
    3. Ryan Renolds as Green Lanturn, as Marvel fans may be annoyed he isn’t focusing on the highly anticippated Deadpool film, and because of the extremly poor acting and even worse plotlines for the character we were forced to endure during the Green Lanturn film.
    4. People thinking that it will just be DC trying to ride the Avengers fanwave.
    Usually I like DC films more than Marvel’s, but I’ll admit right now that I’m holding out for Deadpool.

  22. B. McKenzieon 29 Sep 2012 at 5:48 pm

    While replacing a widely-liked actor (or series) is not easy, I think Batman will actually be the easiest of the Justice League characters to work with. At least there WB has a roadmap to success which they can borrow from. And they probably will borrow from it very heavily–I doubt we’ll see any more substantial changes to Batman than we saw for Spider-Man in his ASM reboot. In contrast, Superman Returns and Green Lantern didn’t give WB very much to emulate. SR was boring (and a box office disappointment) and GL was an unmitigated disaster on every level.



    “Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern…” I think this is extremely questionable decision-making from WB. GL was a box office catastrophe and, ahem, a terrible movie. What led them to keep Reynolds? What I fear most about the Reynolds re-casting is that WB might actually be okay with how GL turned out. Moving forward, I think that attitude would be a bigger problem than another really bad DC movie. In contrast, when Marvel franchises have disappointing movies, studios generally make successful adjustments. For example, Spider-Man 3 gave way to the significantly better ASM. First Class was a quantum leap over X-Men 3 or Wolverine. The Hulk’s movies have consistently improved (The Hulk -> Incredible Hulk -> Avengers). In contrast, the only improvement I see for DC/WB is that Dark Knight added a lot of excitement and drama that were lacking from Batman Begins. If I could overgeneralize DC/WB… Nolan improves, WB settles. (Granted, Dark Knight Rises was a step down from its predecessor, but even then I’d give him points for trying something different).



    “People thinking that it will just be DC trying to ride the Avengers fanwave.” If it were remotely as good as The Avengers, this absolutely would not be a problem for most prospective viewers. For example, I don’t think anybody held it against Pixar’s The Incredibles that its plot shared some notable similarities to Marvel’s Fantastic Four or DC’s Watchmen. If the movie is good enough, people will come around. My main concern is that the evidence available strongly suggests that the movie will be closer in quality to GL than Avengers or The Incredibles.

    Speaking of The Incredibles, I think it’s a more applicable benchmark for success on JL than Avengers is–TI is probably the most successful movie to introduce a team of superheroes at once.

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