It was confirmed today that Ben Affleck’s Live By Night will open in limited release Christmas Day. Which is no surprise. As soon as they announced that the film would premiere in January, there was always the assumption that this mean that the studio would drop it in theatres for an Oscar-qualifying run during holiday season. After all, Ben Affleck’s last film won Best Picture. And Warner Bros loves him. They’d never dump a film that he wrote and directed and stars in into the sh-t movie January period unless they had other intentions for it.
So, as noted earlier, Ben’s schedule the next few weeks is critical. If The Accountant does well for him first, next week, that’s solid momentum building to his next prestige piece, Live By Night. All less than 18 months after we met Chrissy O and the phoenix rising tattoo on his back. It’s the Ben Affleck self-destruction-resurrection cycle – and every time, it has to be more spectacular than the last. Which is why this time, it won’t be enough to just come back after writing and directing yet another critically acclaimed movie. This time he’s doing that AND he’s redefining one of the most iconic figures in pop culture, Batman. Or…The Batman.
Ben’s been talking about his Batman plans during interviews for The Accountant, revealing that the title he’s working with right now for his standalone Batman movie is The Batman. He also confirmed that the villain will be Deathstroke, played by Joe Manganiello. I know nothing about Deathstroke and nothing about the story and what Deathstroke means to Batman and whatever but this, this isn’t about the comics and the canon. This is about Ben Affleck. Because, well, while Joe Manganiello has a very nice body and, I’m sure, is a very nice person, Joe Manganiello is not… an impact. And, in my opinion, that’s deliberate.
An impact is a villain who steals the movie. We have become almost accustomed to seeing the villains steal the movie, to the point now where the casting of the villain is just as important as the casting of the hero, maybe more. Because the audience now goes into the movie hoping to fall in love with the villain. No one is going to come out of Ben Affleck’s The Batman falling in love with Joe Manganiello, sorry. Whatever he’s playing, Deathstroke or Deathtrap or Death By Chocolate, the character, the villain, in Joe Manganiello’s hands, is not going to become an icon and, therefore, not a threat to Ben Affleck. When Ben Affleck’s is Batman and Ben Affleck’s in charge of Batman, it’s all about Batman. Ben’s Batman will not be shown up.
Attached - Ben at a press conference for The Accountant in Beverly Hills on the weekend.