Note: This article was originally published about two weeks before Ben Affleck’s resignation as the director of The Batman, but the key points discussed here still stand true.
It has become sort of a trend to make fun, to criticize, to take apart every quote and to make negatives headlines about any of the DCEU whenever possible. I don’t believe those conspiracy theories that say Disney actually pays off journalists to make positive comments about their movies while making negative ones against the DC films, even if they have enough money to actually do that. What I do believe is that it’s just easier and more profitable to lean on the negative aspects of whatever is popular.
For the so-called movie journalists both Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad were considered failures, even when those movies made tons of money, sold many Blu-ray and DVD copies and have kept people talking about them months after their releases discussing their positives and negatives. Failures don’t do that. You can’t deny that for example Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Will Smith and Margot Robbie owned their roles and people want to see more of them.
But every day what surfaces online are half baked articles about rumors from unknown sources or quotes taken from an actor or a filmmaker put in the most negative light they can and published like big news. Such scandalous news get clicks for the sites who publish, and get people spreading their rumors.
Take for instance Ben Affleck’s recent remarks about his upcoming solo entry in the DCEU. In an interview with The Guardian, when asked about the possibility of him directing The Batman he replied:
That’s the idea. But it’s not a set thing and there’s no script. If it doesn’t come together in a way I think is really great I’m not going to do it. Since he’s the one actually working on the script with DC’s Geoff Johns it’s obvious he’s talking about getting the best possible script before committing to any date. However, what the headlines read later on said that Ben Affleck was considering pulling out from his Batman film.
In the following days a rumor started running around that originated from a so-called ‘authority on Batman’ website claiming that Wonder Woman and Justice League were a ‘mess,’ and that Ben Affleck (also an executive producer on Justice League) was considering leaving the DCEU altogether. Funny then, that that very same day Ben Affleck said on video interviews that they were
good and going, with the Batman solo film, that
there’s great stuff in it now. It just needs to get better and better, and
we’re working, I think we’re ahead of the curve, and we’re excited. To sum up, unless something unfortunate happens, Ben Affleck is going to direct his own Batman movie when he feels he’s got the right story and the perfect script to execute it and that should be reasonably enough for anyone.
But is not only Affleck’s comments that are taken out of context and given whatever meaning the journalists feel like giving them. Sir Ridley Scott came out about why he’s got no interest in doing any comic book adaptations.
Superhero movies are not my kind of thing — that’s why I’ve never really done one, the director said, adding that his own Blade Runner is the closest to a comic strip he ever did:
You could almost put Batman or Superman in that world, that atmosphere, except I’d have a fucking good story, as opposed to no story! He was obviously using the two most famous comic book characters to make his point, not any particular movie. What movie website headlines wrote was ‘Ridley Scott trashes Batman v Superman.’ I doubt Scott has even watched it.
Another perfect example is one of Michael Shannon’s comments a while back. The actor who played General Zod on Man of Steel admitted that he fell asleep while watching Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. If you read the headlines you’d believe that he fell asleep because the movie was ‘so boring,’ when in reality he admitted he catched the movie during an international flight and that was tired. He also regretted watching it that way but he doesn’t get to go the movies anymore because he’s just too busy. He also added that he did Man of Steel because he though it was a beautiful story. No wonder that last part didn’t made any headlines.
With everything you read online, it’s hard not to think there is an obvious bias and an attempt to put everything about the DCEU in a negative light, and this whole thing seems to have started with Zack Snyder’s more grounded and serious take on Superman that many felt was a betrayal of the lighter, camp films with Christopher Reeve they grew up watching, combined with the announcement of the launching of the DCEU that many people thought it was just a desperate attempt to imitate Marvel’s success, when in reality Warner and DC had been trying to build their shared universe years before Marvel Studios even existed, but then got delayed by a writers strike and the incredible success of The Dark Knight.
There’s a lot of pressure on the shoulders of the filmmakers behind the future films in the DCEU. Understandably, these are characters that many people around the world have become attached to, and everyone has different expectations about how they should be portrayed. There’s a great hunger for every little detail of their development in the online community, but shouldn’t we leave the people behind their making focus in just doing their best for the properties? Ben Affleck has been trying to promote his latest directorial effort Live by Night, but every interview ends up being about The Batman. As a filmmaker and someone trying to broaden his body of work, you can understand that has to be truly annoying.
But nothing I might say or write can change the attitude of those big movie websites, journalists and all those smaller ones trying to get a piece of the cake that the DCEU is feeding them right now. They get to show ads, and they get their money from clicks of desperate fans looking for even the tiniest detail about something they’re really passionate about. But wouldn’t it be possible to drive traffic towards them without resorting to the kind of negative pseudo-journalism most of them use?
If we are truly fans, instead of focusing on whatever negative thing we read online, we should be celebrating this time we’re living on, with so many beloved characters making the jump to the big screen and, as I discussed on my previous article about the DCEU, we should be more open about the way those stories are adapted. Let’s stop feeding the negative media chasing and spreading rumors. When the filmmakers or studios are ready to show us something, of course they will do it, until then, let’s just be patient.