Ben Affleck has had an up-and-down career. He’s currently up, netting some of the best reviews of his career with last year’s one-two punch of The Last Duel (which he co-wrote, with co-star Matt Damon) and The Tender Bar. But it wasn’t that long ago that the actor and filmmaker felt that he’d reached rock bottom.
In a new interview with The Los Angeles Times (as caught by The Hollywood Reporter), Affleck reflected on that relatively brief stint when he was working in the world of comic book cinema. For a few years he was Christian Bale’s successor as a graying, grouchy Bruce Wayne/Batman. He only played him over three films, one of them (Suicide Squad) nothing more than a glorified cameo. But it was his third spin as the Caped Crusader that particularly irked him.
“It was really Justice League that was the nadir for me,” Affleck said. “That was a bad experience because of a confluence of things: my own life, my divorce, being away too much, the competing agendas and then [director] Zack [Snyder]’s personal tragedy [Snyder’s daughter Autumn died by suicide in 2017] and the reshooting. It just was the worst experience. It was awful. It was everything that I didn’t like about this. That became the moment where I said, ‘I’m not doing this anymore.’ It’s not even about, like, Justice League was so bad. Because it could have been anything.”
There’s something of a happy ending to this. Though the original completed version of Justice League, overseen by Joss Whedon, opened to mediocre reviews and so-so box office, last year Snyder was able to release his re-habbed version of the film, which was able to greatly flesh out Affleck’s performance, among other things. He’ll even don the cape once more, for the forthcoming stand-alone film The Flash.
Affleck also reflected on how he almost directed The Batman, which wound up being reworked into a Robert Pattinson vehicle. “I looked at it and thought, ‘I’m not going to be happy doing this. The person who does this should love it,’” he recalled. “You’re supposed to always want these things, and I probably would have loved doing it at 32 or something. But it was the point where I started to realize it’s not worth it. It’s just a wonderful benefit of reorienting and recalibrating your priorities that once it started being more about the experience, I felt more at ease.”