What turn of events could have suddenly made it clear to Ben Affleck that he can no longer direct and star in The Batman (which has always struck me, by the way, as a comically brain-dead title)? Affleck and Warner Bros. had been contractually committed to Affleck wearing both hats for the last 18 months so what changed their thinking?
I’ll tell you what happened. Live By Night happened.
I didn’t have that many issues with Affleck’s 1930s-era gangster flick (Robert Richardson‘s fine cinematography certainly made it one of the handsomest crime dramas I’ve ever seen), but the fact that Live By Night, which Affleck directed and starred in, lost $75 million plus the general critical impression that it felt a bit staid and listless and lacked that essential snap (32% Rotten Tomatoes, 49% Metacritic) must have scared the shit out of Warner Bros. honcho Kevin Tsujihara.
Affleck is obviously a skilled, Oscar-winning director-writer but somehow or other he developed cold Batman feet and Tsujihara was nervous enough about the possibility that Affleck might deliver Batman By Night that they both figured “fuck it, let’s not risk it…not this time.”