Earlier this year I was working on a story. A big picture report about the machinations behind the scenes at a particularly controversial time in the developing of the DC Extended Universe. And then, for reasons that will be revealed in due time, I decided to shelve that story.
There was, however, one part of it that I thought might be fun to share. Part of my legwork on the shelved report involved piecing together a timeline; A timeline for Ben Affleck’s tenure as the cinematic Dark Knight.
And what’s funny to me is that, the timeline itself kind of tells a story all on its own. Save for a few choice words here and there to properly contextualize the importance of a particular event, the events that transpired- and the timing at which they transpired- can be pretty revealing.
So here it is, apropos of nothing…
BATFLECK: The Timeline
- August 2013: Months after Argo takes home the Academy Award for Best Picture, Ben Affleck is announced as new the Batman, and he’ll will debut in Batman v Superman when it comes out on July 17, 2015
- December 2013: Chris Terrio, who wrote Argo, is brought on to rewrite David Goyer’s script for Batman vs Superman
- January 2014: Warner Bros. announces a production delay, shifts the release date from July 17, 2015 to May 6, 2016. It’s eventually revealed that part of what came from that delay was a full-fledged road map for the next few films, with Terrio now co-writing a multi-part Justice League as well
- May 2014: Principal photography begins on Batman v Superman
- August 2014: The release date is changed a second time, to March 26, 2016
- December 2014: Principal photography wraps on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
- January 2015: Principal photography begins for Affleck’s next acting job, Gavin O’Connor’s The Accountant
- August 2015: Deadline reports that Warner Bros. delays two Affleck films- The Accountant, and his passion project Live By Night– to give him time to focus on his DC duties with production for Justice League Part 1 right around the corner and an appetite for a solo Batman movie that would be written, directed, and starring him
- October 2015: Live By Night begins principal photography
- February 2016: Live By Night wraps principal photography in time for Affleck to start promoting Batman v Superman– which comes out next month
- February 2016: Reports surface online that Warner Bros. is nervous because BvS isn’t testing the way they’d like it to- a problem that’s magnified by the fact that the budget for the film is immense and hopes were high that this would kick off their shared universe in grand fashion. It would later be revealed that this nervousness about the film led them to cut roughly 30 minutes off of its running time
- March 2016: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is released. It opens to $423 Million worldwide. It receives a B CinemaScore from fans (including a B- from males and from viewers aged 25+), a “Rotten” Rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 44 on MetaCritic
- April 2016: Justice League begins principal photography
- April 2016: It’s officially announced that Ben Affleck will write and direct The Batman, which had been rumored to be the case for two years
- June 2016: Justice League is revealed to now be just one film, and not Part 1 of a two-part story as had originally been announced
- October 2016: Justice League wraps. It was a troubled shoot. Znyder and Terrio’s script was overhauled by Geoff Johns at the behest of the studio because of the dissatisfaction over the reception Batman v Superman got, and it led to a production that was evolving constantly as the script was reworked
- October 2016: The Accountant is released on the 14th, to generally mixed-to-favorable responses from fans and critics, and the R-rated $44M film performs reasonably well at the box office, scoring roughly $155M worldwide
- January 2017: Live By Night is released on on the 13th, and is a misfire across the board. Poor reviews. A tepid B CinemaScore. And it bombed at the box office, as the $90 Million film earned only $23 Million worldwide when its run concludes
- January 2017: Affleck shocks everyone by stepping down as the director of The Batman, mere days after affirming he was still making the film
- February 2017: Zack Snyder shows a cut of Justice League to friends, family, and the studio. The decision is made to bring in another writer to come and overhaul the film a second time. It’s later revealed that Joss Whedon was asked to rewrite the script.
- February 2017: Matt Reeves signs on to direct The Batman
- March 2017: Zack Snyder tragically loses his daughter Autumn
- May 2017: It’s reported that Justice League is about to be overhauled a second time via extensive reshoots
- May 2017: Shortly after that report, it’s announced that those reshoots will not be directed by Snyder but rather Whedon. The reason cited is so that Snyder can properly mourn the loss of his daughter
- June 2017: The Justice League reshoots begin, reshaping the film completely
- August 2017: Affleck’s brother Casey let’s slip that Ben “won’t be doing” The Batman
- November 2017: Justice League finally arrives in theaters. It has the lowest opening weekend of any recent DC film, gets a B+ CinemaScore from fans, a Rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and 45 on Metacritic. The film ends its run with a worldwide haul of $658 Million and is largely seen as a missed opportunity
- January 2019: Deadline reports that Affleck is exiting the franchise. Ben Affleck acknowledges the end of his run as Batman on twitter
- February 2019: Affleck retires his Cape and Cowl on an episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live, and Zack Snyder posts a heartfelt tribute to Affleck’s run as Batman on Vero
PS. With some of what I’ve dug up in recent months, I don’t think he was ever going to do Matt Reeves’ The Batman. That’s why I skipped all of 2018 on the timeline. Because Batfleck and that movie had nothing to do with one another, and his run as the Bat had concluded in January of 2017, before (!) he went back in for the Whedon reshoots six months later.
These are just things I think. Carry on.