Ben Affleck’s Uncertainty as Batman Puts Warner Brothers in a Tight Spot

Justice League is likely the last time we see Ben Affleck in the cape and cowl.

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Justice League is likely the last time we see Ben Affleck in the cape and cowl.

Two weeks after the release of Justice League, Warner Brothers’ DC Comics superhero team-up and answer to Marvel Studios’ cinematic universe, the movie has amassed just over $480 million worldwide. No matter how you spin that number, it’s a disappointing figure for a movie event that should have been celebrated worldwide by both fans and critics alike; it’s a movie event that should have had board members at Warner Brothers doing cartwheels in their offices after looking at the box office numbers. But after it’s all said and done, Justice League could make just around the same amount of money as Man of Steel, which made only $668 million worldwide. For a superhero movie team-up that was supposed to give relevance to DC Comics’ properties after the lukewarm reception at the hands of the Superman reboot, oh how the irony appears here with the confidence Warner Brothers demonstrates in their comic book movie properties.

With Justice League dishing out much lower numbers than expected, Warner Brothers will use most of 2018 to reevaluate their DC Comics properties for film, though other solo movies still in production will go on as planned. Aquaman, which is scheduled to come out next December, finished shooting a couple of months ago with no production issues. Shazam! is currently in preproduction, and will begin shooting early next year. And Wonder Woman 2 is still going forward with both director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot returning, as final touches are being put on the script for the sequel scheduled to come out in November 2019.

But what about the other DC Comics properties that are in early development before the release of Justice League? Yeah, you can forget about almost them all unless Warner Brothers confirms that any one of them (Flashpoint, Nightwing, Suicide Squad 2, Gotham City Sirens) is still going forward via a press release.

While none of those properties will see the light of day anytime soon, one DC Comics movie in early development remains a likely possibility: director Matt Reeves’ solo Batman movie. But what about Ben Affleck’s involvement in said Batman solo movie?

Given the persistent “Is Affleck done with Batman” rumors, the disappointing box office numbers of Justice League, Affleck’s comments since 2016 about playing Batman, and his lack of enthusiasm in interviews during Justice League’s press tour, it all signals that Justice League might have been the last time we saw Affleck in the cape and cowl.

If Affleck is done, what exactly does Warner Brothers do with Batman? How do they make a Batman story without its star who initially committed to being around for a little while? Given that Affleck’s Batman in Batman v Superman and Justice League was a Batman near the end of his days of crime fighting, you can’t just replace Affleck with another actor around his age to replace because that would confuse audiences. But what about a Batman prequel that shows Batman in his early days of crime fighting? The problem there is whether the solo movie then would be connected to this currently iffy DC Extended Universe or whether this new Batman would be its own thing.

Months from now, I’m sure we’ll have an answer from Warner Brothers about their future plans for Batman. People like me still love Batman and want to see him on the big screen. But it’s a shame that the reaction for Batman v Superman and Justice League has Affleck wanting out already. But then again, the A-list actor’s reluctance to see things through and ditch out of this universe now puts Warner Brothers in a tight spot as to how they present the next iteration of Batman on film to audiences.

Personally, I would like to see a new Batman movie where Bruce Wayne retires and gives someone else the cape and cowl that instills fears in the criminals of Gotham; if Warner Brothers is still going forward with this DC Comics movie universe, then it would make more sense if they want to go forward with continuity in this universe. And see, this way, Affleck can go out on a high note and a new, younger actor can play Batman for years to come.

But see, that’s wishful thinking. And given the state of DC Comics on film right now, remaining hopeful about any DC Comics character not named Wonder Woman is a stretch.

The 615 Film Staff Predicts the Rotten Tomatoes Score for ‘Justice League’

We can only hope that Film Twitter will not be engulfed in flames by DC fanboys once the score is out.

We can only hope that Film Twitter will not be engulfed in flames by DC fanboys once the score is out.

Tonight at 11:00PM CST on their new Facebook page, Rotten Tomatoes will reveal the Tomatometer score for Warner Brothers’ Justice League, See It/Skip It (Which, yeah, is dumb as it sounds).

After months of anticipation/worry/whatever, four of the five members of the 615 Film staff saw Justice League at an advance screening here in Nashville last night (Side note: if you’re reading this staff contributor Kevin, we’re sorry. We poured one out for you). After seeing the highly anticipated comic book movie featuring the assembling of DC Comics’ greatest heroes, we here at 615 Film wanted to guess and see what the Rotten Tomatoes score would be before it is unveiled later tonight.

Below, you’ll find our Rotten Tomatoes score predictions along with brief explanations for those scores. And tomorrow we’ll have our full review of Justice League, coming from staff contributor Michael Welsh.

Sean: While I waited in the press line to give my reaction to the marketing representative coordinating the Justice League screening, I kept hearing the same consensus in various ways from other members of the press: “I liked it” or “I thought it was fine” along with some saying, “I look forward to seeing these characters in future movies.” And I would have to agree with the consensus as well. How will other critics across the country respond? I’m thinking the critical reaction will be close to Man of Steel’s, which has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 55%. Score prediction: 51%

Michael: Justice League will fare better with the critics than Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad, but will not be received as well as Wonder Woman. I think it’ll fall somewhere near Man of SteelScore prediction: 62%

Scotty: Justice League’s glaring faults can’t be masked in this two-hour rush to the finish. Is it better than expected? Sure. But is it a good movie? Only at times. Score prediction: 45%

Grant: The DCEU is finally getting on the right path, but this movie feels like a stepping stone. Audiences can tell it had two different directors and went through reshoot hell. While there are some amazing scenes, the film falls to the same issues of some many comic book movies with CGI overload and a placeholder villain. It’s no Wonder Woman, but it’s no Suicide Squad, either. Score prediction: 40%

New Trailer: Steven Spielberg’s ‘The Post’ Enters the Oscar Race

Steven Spielberg. Meryl Streep. Tom Hanks.

Steven Spielberg. Meryl Streep. Tom Hanks.

Finally, we have our first look at Steven Spielberg’s The Post, which the famed director just finished editing and will screen for critics groups by the end of the month. The Post looks at the battle between journalists at The New York Times and The Washington Post versus the government in the publishing of the Pentagon Papers, which details the history of the United States’ political-military involvement in Vietnam (if you’ve never heard about the Pentagon Papers, it’s worth a read on Wikipedia).

Quite simply, this looks terrific. And at a time when freedom of the press is under the microscope with everything that’s happening in this country right now, this movie seemingly comes at the perfect time.

The three names headlined in the excerpt already should have you excited, but let’s not forget the rest of the outstanding cast, which includes Alison Brie, Sarah Paulson, Carrie Coon, David Cross, Bruce Greenwood, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, Jesse Plemons, Michael Stuhlberg, Zach Woods, and Bradley Whitford.

With Spielberg at the helm guiding what is arguably the best ensemble cast in a film this year, The Post should be at the near-top of the Oscar race right now. Will it come out on top once awards season is in full force? Time will tell, but I want this film. Right. Now. 

The Post will hit select theaters on December 22 and open nationwide on January 12.

A Gareth Evans-Directed ‘Deathstroke’ Film Sounds too Good to be True

Time will tell, but this sounds like a match made in heaven.

Time will tell, but this sounds like a match made in heaven.

Yesterday afternoon, The Wrap exclusively reported that director Gareth Evans is in early discussions to write and direct a DC Comics spin-off based on the Batman villain Deathstroke.

As mentioned in the title of this article, this news sounds too good to be true.

Aside from next month’s Justice League, the recently announced Wonder Woman 2 being fast-tracked, next year’s Aquaman, and Shazam! going into production soon, we still have no idea what Warner Brothers’ plans are for the rest of their DC Comics properties. Sure, a number of things have been reported about filmmakers being in discussions to make comic book movies based on other DC Comics characters, (like Joss Whedon making Batgirl, Chris McKay making Nightwing or Gavin O’Connor making Suicide Squad 2), but nothing definitive has been announced by the studio itself; it certainly feels like there’s too many moving pieces without a clear, definitive path.

But if this does turn out to be true (and it certainly feels that way after Gareth Evans’ Deathstroke tease on his Instagram account four days ago), then Deathstroke easily would be the most promising DC Comics film to come out any time soon. Evans, who directed two of the best action movies to come out over the past decade (The Raid and The Raid 2), making a comic book villain film about an assassin like Deathstroke sounds like the perfect pairing.

Thanks to the popular CW television show Arrow and the Batman Arkham video games, the popularity of the character of Deathstroke has skyrocketed in recent years; some now argue that he’s one of the best Batman villains of all time (though that’s debatable).

While no release date or announcement is expected anytime soon, Joe Manganiello, who was named last year to portray Deathstroke in the Ben Affleck’s Batman film (which was scrapped after Affleck stepped down as both writer and director of the Batman solo film), is still expected to portray the sword-wielding character.

Review: Profoundly Beautiful ‘Florida Project’ is One of the Year’s Best Films

Utterly heartbreaking and gracefully raw, A24’s latest gem is not to be missed.

Utterly heartbreaking and gracefully raw, A24’s latest gem is not to be missed.

RATING: ★★★★ (out of four stars)

At one point during The Florida Project, the lead character Moonee (a six-year-old girl played by Brooklynn Kimberly Prince) and her new friend look outward at a rainbow that arches over the extended-stay motel where they live. This scene where Moonee and her friend look at one of nature’s most beautiful sights is the perfect metaphor for Sean Baker’s latest film. Moonee and her friends muster up illusions of happiness and joy as they break through the light in such colorful ways to overcome the reality of a welfare-dense area within walking distance of Disney World, which has been called the happiest place on earth.

As captivatingly radiant as it is saddening, The Florida Project follows Moonee and her friends during the summer days in and around The Magic Castle Motel, which managed by Bobby Hicks (Willem Dafoe). Sure, the story in Florida Project isn’t groundbreaking, but that’s not what makes it so wondrous and harrowing. Watching kids make the best of a down-on-their-luck scenario they can’t fully comprehend, all while their parents struggle to provide for them feels so relatable – especially when you think about all the other areas in the country where poverty is high. As someone who has a special place in their heart for children who live in such unfortunate situations, one scene near the end of the film, had me tearing up. At times, The Florida Project is not an easy watch, where you might find your heart sinking to the floor as you wish you could help the characters with the struggles they go through. But at the same time, it’s as authentic as any movie you’ll see this year, with the scenarios presented are either delightful or heart-rending.

Authenticity in The Florida Project comes largely from the movie’s memorable characters that result in heartfelt performances that are sure to garner plenty of awards talk throughout the fall. Front and center for most of The Florida Project is Brooklyn Kimberly Prince as Moonee, who is hard not to fall in love with as soon as we see her on the screen for the first time. Full of sass, energy, and wit, Prince arguably gives the best performance as a child actor in a movie since Abigail Breslin in Little Miss Sunshine. Parenting (when she’s there) Moonee is her mother Halley, played by Bria Vinaite. You might wind up hating Halley, but you ultimately understand that she is only trying to do what’s best in order for her and her daughter to survive week after week. And finally, veteran (and beloved) actor Willem Dafoe plays Bobby, the manager of the motel where Moonee and Halley stay. Acting like an angel in the shadows or a surrogate father of sorts, Dafoe’s sensitive, yet graceful performance is one of the best of his career; and right now, I’d say he’s a shoe-in for Best Supporting Actor at next year’s Oscars.

The Florida Project feels like this year’s Moonlight (which also happens to be an A24 release); it’s a bittersweet story that’s not often told on film, but it’s certainly an important one that’s worth your time. Baker, who made the 2015 stylistic Tangerine, gives us a clear reminder of the vivid society we live in now with The Florida Project. Sure, we might live within walking distance of what we deem as “happiness,” but we also live in a world where there’s enough adventure to let our imagination run wild, and where in the end, any bleak situation can be outshined by the warmth and radiance we give off, just like Florida Project’s flawed, yet empathetic characters do in the film’s sunshine state setting.

The Florida Project is now playing at The Belcourt Theatre here in Nashville. You can purchase your tickets here.

Before You See ‘Blade Runner 2049’, You Need to Watch these Shorts

These three shorts help bridge the gap between the 1982 cult classic and the highly anticipated sci-fi sequel.

These three shorts help bridge the gap between the 1982 cult classic and the highly anticipated sci-fi sequel.

Blade Runner 2049 comes out tomorrow night, which means it’s time to get excited. Even if you’re not of fan of the original Blade Runner (like me), that doesn’t mean you should easily dismiss this sequel.

With glowing reviews that have accounted for a 94% score on Rotten Tomatoes as of this afternoon, there’s reason to be excited; even if you’ve never seen the original, you don’t have to have seen Ridley Scott’s cult classic to see and understand the cult classic. (I know because I saw it last night.)

However, with the help of director Denis Villeneuve (Arrival), Warner Brothers made three shorts, told over three different time periods, that help explain the smaller details in the highly anticipated sci-fi sequel that bridge the 30-year gap between the first Blade Runner, which takes place in the year 2019 and Blade Runner 2049, which takes place 30 years later (as shown in the title of the movie).

Before you see the highly anticipated sci-fi sequel this weekend, I recommend you watch these three shorts, which are not only good, but also give more backstory for the city of Los Angeles (the setting of the Blade Runner movies) and its smaller characters.

Black Out 2022

Featuring beautiful animation and characters that act as small pawns in the grand scheme of things of the Blade Runner universe, this outstanding anime short that details a climatic event in the city of Los Angeles (Directed by Shinichiro Watanabe of the classic anime series Cowboy Bebop) is easily the best of the three shorts.

2036: Nexus Dawn

Directed by Luke Scott (son of Ridley), this short introduces audiences to Jared Leto’s blind character, Niander Wallace, and how he changed the landscape of Los Angeles and the off-world colonies with the revival of the replicant program. If you have no idea about anything Blade Runner-related, blade runners are assigned to terminate bad replicants, who are bioengineered androids that look virtually identical to adult humans, but are superior in strength, ability, and intelligence.

2048: Nowhere to Run 

The final short (also directed by Luke Scott) looks closely at Dave Bautista’s character, Sapper Morton, whose actions seemingly set things in motion for Blade Runner 2049.