For Playboy‘s 60th anniversary issue, the magazine needed an iconic subject for the Playboy Interview, and I hit the lottery. I got to talk with actor-writer-director-producer Ben Affleck about his life and the remarkable second act that he wrote for himself as writer-director of Gone Baby Gone and The Town, which culminated in the Best Picture Oscar for Argo. Naturally, the first topic on the menu was his surprise decision to become the latest in a long line of actors to play the Caped Crusader in Batman Vs. Superman. At the time we met, Affleck was watching as the Internet exploded negatively to his Bat-candidacy. Having weathered career hardship before and come back stronger for it, Affleck was unconcerned by the Bat-zealots who actually started online petitions against him.
Fox Nabs Gotham City Origin Drama About Commissioner Gordon From Bruno Heller & Warner Bros. TV With Series Commitment
EXCLUSIVE: In one of the biggest drama deals this season, after a bidding war, Fox has landed Gotham, from Warner Bros. TV and The Mentalist creator Bruno Heller, with a series commitment. For Gotham, Warner Bros TV is mining one of DC Comics‘ most popular character universes, Batman. It explores the origin stories of Commissioner James Gordon and the villains who made Gotham City famous. In Gotham, Gordon is still a detective with the Gotham City Police Department and has yet to meet Batman, who will not be part of the series. The Gordon character was introduced in 1939 in the very first Batman comic. Created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane, Commissioner Gordon has appeared in comic books as well as Batman films and series, including in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, where he was played by Gary Oldman. Along with the Superman franchise, the Batman universe is probably the most prized DC property.
Ben Affleck told Jimmy Fallon last night he thought he could handle any rough handling after Zack Snyder cast him as Batman in Warner Bros’ Batman vs. Superman pic. “I handle sh*t,” he cracked. Apparently he has rethought his stance:
OPINION: I was as surprised as anyone when Ben Affleck was named the new Batman by Warner Bros. While I know I will be incurring the Wrath of Khan from a certain segment of Deadline readers for saying this, I do not share the alarm expressed by just about all 300+ Deadline commenters who’ve condemned the move and feel it’s awful for Affleck, Warner Bros, and humanity as a whole.
This is the biggest Affleck surprise I can recall since I saw Gone Baby Gone and was surprised to see that he was a helluva filmmaker. I guess what I’m saying is, Affleck has earned some rope from us; he knows what he is doing. I know he’s read the script, and he loves the concept. After watching Robert Downey Jr unexpectedly (at the time) establish himself as a global superstar after he auditioned for and won over Marvel for Iron Man, I see a lot of upside for Affleck to bolster his global viability, without a lot of career risk. This is a giant coup for the fledgling Greg Silverman-Sue Kroll regime at Warner Bros. Not only in their effort to create global hits, but also in their effort to strengthen studio ties to Affleck after the turbulent exit of Jeff Robinov (who’ll be looking to bring guys like Affleck over if and when he ever takes the top film job at Fox).
Even though I couldn’t understand all of the gravelly dialogue lines he delivered from beneath the Batmask, Christian Bale’s three turns as the Caped Crusader gave him global cred. They didn’t discount his other screen performances, either. That’s because, like Affleck and Downey, Bale wasn’t a newcomer when he took the job (newbies from George Reeves to Christopher Reeve and Brandon Routh seem to get imprinted by the role and disappear after). His Batman persona also didn’t stop Oscar voters from giving Bale the trophy for his performance in The Fighter.
Affleck isn’t the same guy he was when he made 2003′s Daredevil, or when he hurt his career by starring with off-screen squeeze Jennifer Lopez in Gigli. After that, he smartly worked his tail off to write his career a second act as a writer-director who stars in his own films. That is his identity now. He’s the guy who directed, produced and starred in the reigning Best Picture Oscar winner Argo, and he has The Town and Gone Baby Gone under his belt. Name another filmmaker outside of Christopher Nolan whose last three films stack up with that kind of quality? Even if he moonlights as Batman, it doesn’t change that true identity. And I thought he did a great job acting in Argo and The Town.
Also, those painful career lessons made Affleck shrewdly selective. If this works, he will have created a great role he can return to in between his directorial outings, the same way that Downey will do for future Avengers installments. Affleck won’t have to carry these movies himself, and I’d be surprised if he made a freestanding Batfilm.
I have been waiting for Warner Bros to turn a corner with its DC Comics crimefighter universe, beyond Batman and Superman. They’ve taken a step in that direction even if it is by combining those two characters. Now, they have a bona fide leading man in the fold (because Henry Cavill could not pack a movie house right now if he wasn’t wearing the red cape). Suddenly, the next step, the inevitable Justice League film, looks intriguing and I bet more big names will enlist by the time that movie gets made. Sure, I’d feel better if Nolan was still steering it all, but a lot of people liked Zack Snyder’s Man Of Steel. The DC franchise effort seems to be in good hands. And imagine if Affleck really likes the job enough to rescind his previous pass and direct that Justice League movie?
Ben Affleck To Play Batman In Warner Bros’ Batman-Superman Pic; Studio Sets July 17, 2015 Release Date
Ben Affleck has two Oscars; now he’s getting a cape. Hot off a Best Picture win for his period thriller Argo, Affleck is stepping back in front of the camera to play Batman in Warner Bros‘ untitled sequel to Man Of Steel, which will bring the crimefighter together with Superman in a feature for the first time. The casting further solidifies Affleck’s relationship with Warners, which released Argo and is behind his next directorial effort Live By Night. Affleck’s July casting in David Fincher’s Gone Girl for Fox meant that Warners was allowing him to push back Live By Night, which he also stars in and is continuing to prep. The actor-filmmaker had been tight with Jeff Robinov, who left his post as Warner Brothers Pictures Group President in June after Kevin Tsujihara got the studio’s top job. When rumors of Robinov’s departure first surfaced, Affleck told Deadline’s Nikki Finke: “On the record, I don’t know what I would do if Jeff weren’t there. I don’t know from my view anyone else there who knows how to make movies. I would like to support him.”
Man Of Steel director Zack Snyder is expected to reimagine the Batman character, whose pairing with Superman he announced at Comic-Con last month. Snyder said he won’t be drawing from the Dark Knight series. “I’ve pored through the DC universe for a way to tell this thing,” he said. Affleck will star opposite Henry Cavill, who will reprise the role of Superman/Clark Kent. The film will also reunite Man Of Steel stars Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane. David S. Goyer, who scripted the first film and worked on the Dark Knight trilogy, will pen the sequel. Warner Bros has set the film to open worldwide on July 17, 2015.
BREAKING… UPDATE: Official Press Release Below… The Superman logo was just superimposed with the Batman logo on the screen at the close of the much anticipated Warner Bros-Legendary Pictures panel inside the San Diego Convention Center at Comic-Con. This momentous DC Entertainment development from Warner Bros was not on the schedule, according to Deadline contributor Ross Lincoln covering the event. Instead, Zack Snyder came out on stage and announced, “It’s official that we are going to make another Superman movie. I’ve pored through the DC universe for a way to tell this thing.” With that, Harry Lennix who plays General Swanwick in Man Of Steel began quoting from Frank Miller’s 1986 The Dark Knight Returns and Miller’s follow-up Batman: Year One graphic novel series where an older Batman tricks Superman with Kryptonite and beats up the Man of Steel — then the scene ends with Batman faking his own death, a fact Superman becomes aware of at the funeral and keeps the secret: ”In all the years to come, in all the most private moments, I want you to remember my hand at your throat. I want you to remember the one man who beat you.” Snyder said the filmmakers won’t be using that source but it will help them in the story they’re telling. Set for release in 2015, this sequel is to be directed by Snyder and written by David S. Goyer featuring two of WB/DC’s most iconic superheroes and is certain to compete with Marvel. Christian Bale has said he does not wish to reprise his Bruce Wayne aka Batman role so the studio will be searching for a new Batman to pair with Henry Cavill. Snyder later said, “I’m so excited to begin working again with Henry Cavill in the world we created, and I can’t wait to expand the DC Universe in this next chapter. Let’s face it, it’s beyond mythological to have Superman and our new Batman facing off, since they are the greatest superheroes in the world.” Here is the Warner Bros press release announcing that the next DC superhero movie is in pre-production uniting Superman and Batman “in one explosive new film. Man Of Steel is still in theaters has grossed $625+M worldwide while Christopher Nolan’s rebooted Batman trilogy has amassed $4 billion globally:
BURBANK, CA, July 20, 2013 – On the heels of the worldwide success of “Man of Steel,” director Zack Snyderis bringing together the two greatest Super Heroes of all time—Batman and Superman—for the first time on the big screen. The announcement was made today by Greg Silverman, President, Creative Development and Worldwide Production, and Sue Kroll, President, Worldwide Marketing and International Distribution,Warner Bros. Pictures.
The current hit, “Man of Steel,” has taken in more than $630 million at the worldwide box office to date, and climbing. Along with its star, Henry Cavill, the upcomingfilm brings back Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane. The new Batman has yet to be cast.
Silverman stated, “Zack Snyder is an incredibly talented filmmaker, but beyond that, he’s a fan first and he utterly gets this genre. We could not think of anyone better suited to the task of bringing these iconic Super Heroes to the screen in his own way.” Kroll added, “We are thrilled to be back in business with Zack and his team on this next movie. The success of ‘Man of Steel’ is a wonderful testament to the love and support that both fans and new audiences, worldwide, have for these characters. We are very excited to see what Zack has in store for all of us.”
Diane Nelson, President, DC Entertainment, noted,“Superman and Batman together on the big screen is a dream come true for DC fans everywhere. All of us at DCEntertainment could not be more excited for Zack’s continuing vision for the DC Universe.”
Batman’s mask, Superman’s cape and Catwoman’s suit were among items from a baker’s dozen of Warner Bros movies from 1942 through 2005 that the studio donated to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington. Props from Tim …
The original Batmobile used in the 1966-68 Batman TV series sold tonight at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction for $4.6 million including fees. Bidding lasted about 4 minutes and the winning bid was $4.2 million before fees were assessed. The car’s …
Holy bubble-top! The car used in the 1966-68 Batman TV series will be auctioned off in January. Customizer George Barris bought the 1955 Lincoln Futura Concept car for $1 from the Ford Motor Co. Barris was given $15,000 and 15 …
BURBANK, Calif., June 7, 2012 — Holy Licensing Program, Batman! Warner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) unveiled today, in advance of Licensing Show 2012, a new licensing program inspired by the classic 1960′s television series, Batman. The program will feature captured photography from the live-action series, as well as the illustrated character art inspired by the series’ animated opening sequence, and will incorporate the vehicles, gadgets and catchphrases that have made the show a cultural phenomenon.
UPDATE: These amateur videos shot in NYC supposedly depict a brawl between supporters of Bane (Tom Hardy) and Gotham police led by Batman (Christian Bale) in The Dark Knight Rises. If any of this seems familiar, it’s because similar scenes were shot three months ago in Pittsburgh.
EXCLUSIVE: An insider just told me that DC Entertainment at Warner Bros is “in the throes of turning the comic book industry on its head” with a massive publishing relaunch. “DC Comics – The New 52” (see exclusive video below) is a bold renumbering of all of DC’s superhero comics (52 all-new #1 issues). And the industry-changing move is to now offer comics for sale digitally on the very same day as physically. “The New 52” kicks off at midnight tonight in comic shops across the nation. Now, some details may have leaked out to the comic book pundits. But I can tell you exclusively that the first printing of Justice League #1 has officially sold out today in advance of tomorrow’s on-sale date, and DC is rushing back to press for a second printing. (Yes, I know: these things almost always sell out. And in the not-so-old days sold way more.) Over 200,000 physical copies of JL1, along with tens of thousands of digital copies, are expected to be sold worldwide. I understand that Justice League #1 has a particular connection to DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson’s exec team, as its writer is DCE’s Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns and its artist is DCE’s Co-Publisher Jim Lee, two of the biggest creators in the industry. The pair will be signing at Midtown Comics in NYC’s Times Square tonight. Insiders are calling it “the beginning of the biggest comic industry publishing event in nearly a decade”. I’m told that “DC Comics – The New 52” will continue launching throughout September, with new #1 titles for Action Comics, Batman, Detective, Flash, Green Lantern, Superman, and Wonder Woman releasing in-store and online every Wednesday. Here’s the video teaser:
(See the cover art bigger after the jump.)
Director Christopher Nolan revealed the film’s name in an interview in the Los Angeles Times. Nolan also said that the Riddler won’t be the villain and he also said that Warner Bros had agreed with his stance that the film should not be in 3D, instead using the high-definition and IMAX approach.