A few weeks ago, Ben Affleck announced he's bowing out of the DC Extended Universe. He dropped the news via Twitter, but didn't reveal any details about his departure. The star stayed noticeably mum about all things Batman after the announcement — that is, until a recent guest appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, where he gave a (sort of?) proper explanation for why he's done with the Caped Crusader.
During a chat with Kimmel, Affleck revealed that while he had a vision for The Batman, he eventually realized he wasn't right for the gig.
"I tried to direct a version of it and worked with a really good screenwriter but just couldn’t come up with a version,” he explained. "I couldn’t crack it, and so I thought it’s time for someone else to take a shot at it. They got some really good people, so I’m excited."
Affleck starred as The Dark Knight in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League and was set to star, produce, co-write, and direct a standalone Batman film. Then, in January 2017, he stepped down as director because he felt he couldn't do justice to the character if he had to act and direct at the same time.
"Performing this role demands focus, passion and the very best performance I can give. It has become clear that I cannot do both jobs to the level they require," Affleck said at the time. "Together with the studio, I have decided to find a partner in a director who will collaborate with me on this massive film. "
Fast forward to this year, when he announced he's dropping out of the film altogether. He's since passed the torch to director Matt Reeves, who is expected to produce a "point of view-driven, noir Batman tale." It will hit theaters on June 25, 2021. No word yet on who will don Batman's cowl, but the studio is reportedly on the hunt for a younger Bruce Wayne to fit Reeves' narrative.
While Affleck offered an acceptable explanation for his retirement, we think there might be more to the story — especially when you consider one insider's claim that Affleck's Batman script was the best he's ever read. Back in September 2018, Jay Oliva — a storyboard artist and animation director who has worked on a slew of DC projects — tweeted he loved the script Affleck penned for the standalone Batman film.
"The original Affleck script was the best Batman script I’ve ever read," Oliva wrote. "Ben had a kick ass story and I believe that the audience and fans would have loved it."
"There was a lot happening that is above you and my paycheck," he added. "I wish it was as easy as just making it. It had some of the best Batman/ Deathstroke stuff I’d ever done!"
Joe Manganiello, who is set to star as Deathstroke, affirmed Oliva's endorsement of Affleck's script.
In fairness, penning a good script isn't out of Affleck's wheelhouse. He did, after all, win an Oscar for best original screenplay early in his career for Good Will Hunting. He's also written a handful of well-received films, including The Town and Gone Baby Gone. There might be more to his retirement story than he and the studio have let on, but we doubt they'd want to add even more drama to the already problematic DCEU.
It's a shame Affleck's Batman script will never see the light of day. Let's cross our fingers DC will still use it for... something?