Gotta love them trade wars. Make sure you have an umbrella because there's a lot of pissing (on each other) going on. This afternoon Variety reported that Warner Bros. is hoping to have Ben Affleck direct "Justice League", the D.C. Universe's super-hero all-star team and the equivalent of Marvel's massively succesful "The Avengers."
Never one to take a missed scoop lying down, Deadline is now raining all over Variety's parade claiming they didn't run the story because Affleck's reps stated the actor wasn't going to take the gig. Who to believe? Well, to be fair, Variety was only reporting the fact that WB wanted Affleck, though Deadline believes the implication was that "The Town" filmmaker would take the gig.
Personal feelings aside (Deadline cannot stand being beat to a story and so this behavior is typical, especially when Nikki Finke is chewing your ass out on the other line), this frankly isn't a surprise in both cases. With Christoper Nolan deciding he doesn't want a piece of "The Justice League" (much to their chagrin) Warner Bros. is looking for another smart, thoughtful filmmaker to elevate their genre tentpoles into something more than fun summer entertainment fare ala the way Nolan did with his Batman trilogy. In WB's minds, Marvel's might be the reigning super-hero kings at the box-office, but their Batman series will endure in the long run and will be remembered as something special and for the ages.
Clearly, they're already trying to attempt the same with Superman. They hired Nolan to produce and godfather "The Man Of Steel," which looks similar in tone and feel to "The Dark Knight" and one of the directors they wanted for the gig early on? His name was Ben Affleck. And yes, Warner Bros. pursuing Affleck makes total sense. The studio offered him "Man Of Steel," "Gangster Squad" (another picture he turned down), an adaptation of Stephen King's "The Stand" (which he may or may not do) and the list kind of goes on. They're impressed with the actor/director/writer who directed "The Town" (which earned one Oscar nomination), "Gone Baby Gone" (one Oscar nom) and WB's upcoming "Argo" which is another potential awards player. And all of Affleck's films have received strong reviews from both critics and audiences. He's a smart guy and a budding, sharp filmmaker.
But the work that Affleck has already turned down attests to the direction he wants to go and it doesn't appear to be super-hero films. Frankly, we think it's a wise, wise move on his part. If Affleck keeps this up, he's going to be remembered as a Syndey Pollack or a Sidney Lumet; not a bad look if you can get it. But Deadline does dial back on its report a little bit by the end and says sources say he might take a meeting, but it's likely he won't take the gig. Sure, it's what we figured all along. In the meantime, try and stay dry.