EXCLUSIVE: Here’s one for the Comic-Con crowd to gnaw on. I’m told that Ben Affleck is teaming up with Geoff Johns to co-write a stand-alone Batman movie that Affleck will direct and star in after he completes his longstanding plan to helm his scripted adaptation of the Dennis Lehane novel Live By Night. Johns has about as much comic cred as anybody around. He’s DC Comics’ chief creative officer and has written some of its best remembered comic book series including Green Lantern, Aquaman, Batman, Justice League, The Flash and Superman. He also has written TV series superhero transfers Smallville, Arrow and The Flash, as well as the Supergirl project with Greg Berlanti for CBS.
My studio sources tell me that Affleck and Johns are well in synch and have more than found their rhythm. In fact, they are likely to turn in a script before the end of the summer, prior to Affleck going off to direct Live By Night in November. Affleck postponed that pic to star in Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice. The Batman movie would shoot after he finishes Live By Night, and the plot would reflect the Batman character that emerges after Batman V Superman and Justice League, the latter of which comes out November 17, 2017. DC and Warner Bros have set a long list of superhero movies that take the Marvel formula of interspersing characters from one film to the next, so it’s unclear when Affleck’s Batfilm will be slotted.
But it clearly will take priority, and other movies might have to move to get out of its way. While Marvel’s Kevin Feige has defied the odds and turned one Marvel character after another into hit films, I have been somewhat skeptical about the DC films that Warner Bros has made a top priority. This is a confidence booster. The best Batman blockbusters had a real sense of visual authorship, originated by Tim Burton, with the latest arc by Christopher Nolan. Now it falls to Affleck, who’ll creatively steer the Batman franchise after directing the Best Picture winner Argo and co-scripting and directing the gems The Town and Gone Baby Gone. Helped by the collaboration with DC-savvy Johns, this might be the most exciting news to hit the Con this weekend.