Warner Bros.'s pursuit of a superhero team franchise of their very own continues this week with the news that Ben Affleck, previously considered a frontrunner for the Justice League movie, is out, if was even offered the job in the first place. 24 Hours Vancouver reports Ben Affleck's statement: "I'm not working on the Justice League. One of the problems with entertainment web sites is that they need to fill pages, and that's how rumours get started."
Ouch, but well played, Mr. Affleck. Astute readers know by now that any piece of movie news should be ingested with a generous helping of sodium chloride. Even a confirmed story can change down the road, as creative talent shifts on various projects over complicated development and production cycles. Affleck was reported as being Warner Bros.'s first choice to direct The Justice League, and could plausibly have been offered the job, but his statement makes it clear that, for now at least, he's not taking the job. This of course leaves the job open for someone new, and for the speculation to once again commence. Now, Moviehole is claiming that word on the Warner Bros. lot now leans towards the studio offering their biggest potential blockbuster franchise to a directing duo with a history, albeit a spotty one, of blockbuster special effects extravaganzas: The Wachowski Siblings.
The Wachowskis are an intriguing but complicated choice to direct a film like The Justice League. Despite critical and financial success with the first Matrix movie, its two sequels were considered a disappointment by hardcore fans and their follow-up, Speed Racer, barely made 75% of its budget back in theaters. Warner Bros. is supposedly hot on their most recent and ambitious picture, Cloud Atlas, with a sprawling cast that could encourage the studio that the directors can handle the ensemble cast necessary to pull off the team dynamic inherent to the potential franchise. But the Wachowskis are also used to creative control over their own properties, and could conceivably be less than enthused at the prospect of a heavily studio-controlled property that has to neatly dovetail into as many as half a dozen spin-off films, not to mention play off of Zack Snyder's already upcoming Superman movie, Man of Steel.
Assuming this rumor is true, and that Ben Affleck was also at least considered to helm The Justice League, it's worth noting that Warner Bros. would be taking a very different approach to its superhero franchises than Marvel Studios, which has a history of hiring talented but less-than-name directors to bring their pantheon to life. Warner Bros. is looking for big time directors with Oscar nominated movies and/or enormous blockbusters to their credit, which could speak to the scale of the movies they plan to present moviegoers worldwide but doesn't necessarily inspire confidence that the resulting films will have the personal touch Marvel has enjoyed to date.
Until then, as Ben Affleck warns, consider the Wachowskis story a rumor, albeit an interesting and plausible one. They're bound to finalize a director eventually, and likely soon since The Justice League is obviously a priority for the studio. We'll keep you posted as much as possible, and try not to fill too many pages about it.
CraveOnline will be back with more Justice League news because it's the only thing we know how to do and we've gotta do something.