It’s hardly a surprising decision; just a couple of weeks ago, Affleck was talking about how uncomfortable he imagined it would be having to direct a movie in the costume, saying, “We’ll have to modify the suit to make it a little bit easier to put on and take off. When you are in it, you can be sweating, crazy and exhausted, do your part and walk away. But when you’re a director, you can’t walk away. You have to be there for everybody.” Or, apparently you could simply walk away from the director’s chair altogether.
But while another DC movie still remains directorless after a filmmaker jumped ship, there’s an obvious candidate for a replacement for Affleck when it comes to bringing Batman’s solo adventures back to the big screen: None other than Zack Snyder.
Ignore the cries of comic book fans still complaining about Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; Snyder is a surreally perfect choice to take on the Batman directing gig. As the man responsible for Affleck’s two main Batman appearances to date (2016’s BvS and this fall’s upcoming Justice League), he’s obviously familiar with both the character and the actor, and has more than a passing knowledge of the wider DC Extended Universe, being the executive producer of the whole shebang so far.
He’s also a visual stylist who appreciates the need for a Batman movie to look good above all else — arguably the defining factor of the Batman movie property thus far, depending on how your aesthetic deals with the Joel Schumacher movies. He’s also someone who is very, very aware of the work of Frank Miller, one of the — if not the — most influential Batman comic creators of the past three decades; not only did BvS lift imagery directly from Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, but Snyder also directed 300, an adaptation of Miller’s historical comic book series.
(Imagine if Snyder managed to convince Miller to work on The Batman with him; it would be a movie destined to make the Nerd Internet explode, in equal measures pre-emptive condemnation and genuine excitement. Miller does have experience screenwriting via Sin City and The Spirit, and is still involved with Batman via DC Entertainment’s DKIII: The Master Race comic book series; is such a prospect really that impossible?)
More to the point, the grimness that fans complained about as inappropriate in Man of Steel and Batman v Superman would be … well, at least more appropriate for the Dark Knight and his downbeat adventures than for the Metropolis Marvel. Snyder’s trend toward moral bleakness and violence makes sense for Batman’s storylines in a way that it doesn’t for Superman, even with the “darkest before the dawn” thread that seems to be placed throughout the DC movies thus far.
Currently, he’s on board to direct the thriller The Last Photograph before moving to Justice League 2. But Batman, in many ways, is the superhero that Snyder has been moving toward this whole time (Suddenly, those Nite Owl scenes from Watchmen come into focus a little bit more). With the opportunity to take on The Batman now available, could he really stay away?