The world of silver screen superheroics is not unknown territory for actor/director Ben Affleck. During the early years of his post-Good Will Hunting career the Academy Award-winner was rumored to be in the running to play both Batman and Superman. Then in 2003 he finally got his chance to play a comic book hero on film when he top-lined Mark Steven Johnson’s bloated Daredevil adaptation. Although that movie was a very nice moneymaker for financier 20th Century Fox the withering reviews and lack of desire from fans for a sequel kept any further Daredevil features on ice to this day. During that time Affleck has gone from being one of Hollywood’s rising star to a tabloid and internet punching bag due to some ill-advised career and relationship decisions to once again being the toast of Tinseltown with his well-received move into working behind the camera with his well-received dramas Gone Baby Gone and The Town.
It was the latter film that officially launched Affleck on his second career as a prestigious filmmaker; his third film as a director, Argo (which he also stars in), opens next month and is garnering some impressive buzz thus far. On the strength of his previous films and the soon-to-be-released Argo Warner Bros. signed Affleck to direct an adaptation of Stephen King’s epic apocalyptic horror-fantasy The Stand last October. Now it seems Warners is grooming the more talented half of the entity once known as Bennifer for another huge project the studio has been looking to get off the ground for several years.
According to Variety, the studio is now hungering for Affleck to take a seat in the director’s chair for their long-gestating Justice League motion picture. The movie had been in various stages of development since 2007, at one point almost going before the cameras with George Miller (The Road Warrior) calling the shots. The project was put on indefinite hold with many screenwriters taking a crack at successfully translating the greatest heroes of the DC Universe into a viable cinematic property. It wasn’t until Marvel Studios’ The Avengers shattered global box office records that Warner Bros. and DC resurrected the Justice League feature and tapped Will Beall (the upcoming Gangster Squad) to write the script. So far Affleck is the only director being eyed for the project who has been sent Beall’s screenplay.
Ben Affleck would not be the first actor-turned-director to take the helm of a superhero event film: Jon Favreau directed the first two Iron Man movies and was in fact the driving force that helped make the first the sterling creative and financial success it turned out to be, and Kenneth Branagh snagged some snazzy reviews and boffo box office for directing last year’s Marvel-lous Thor. Having an experienced actor and Oscar-winning screenwriter overseeing the production of a mammoth ensemble blockbuster would be a boon for Warner Bros. as directors with extensive acting experience tend to favor performance and character development over high dollar, retina-searing visual effects. Plus, Affleck has demonstrated a knack for shooting intense action sequences in The Town. If DC and Warner Bros. want to make an all-star superhero epic to rival The Avengers they can’t do much better than with Ben Affleck as director. I hope this develops into something great.