In Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Ben Affleck joked about how he does “one for me, one for them,” implying that he makes one movie for himself, then makes one film for the studio. For every Armageddon, there’s a Shakespeare in Love. For every Argo, there’s a Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. But in a new interview, Affleck makes it sound like he’s done making films that don’t interest him anymore, which sounds like it might mark an end to those “ones for them.”
As part of Variety’s Actors on Actors, Sasha Baron Cohen and Ben Affleck had a conversation about their 2020 films, including The Trial of the Chicago 7, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, and The Way Back. Near the end of the interview, when asked about Batman, Affleck points out that he no longer wants to make movies where he’s bored halfway through and hates the project. He also says that he doesn’t want to be from his kids for something that isn’t satisfying. At the end, Affleck states “I’m just looking to do stuff that is personally rewarding. I think my Armageddon days are behind me.”
With the exception of the DC Universe films, in which Ben Affleck plays Bruce Wayne/Batman, Affleck has focused on more personal projects over the last decade or so. In 2007, Affleck started earnestly focusing on directing, making 2007’s Gone Baby Gone, 2010’s The Town, 2012’s Argo – which won Best Picture at the Academy Awards – and 2016’s Live by Night.
But for the most part, Ben Affleck has sort of shifted towards roles where he can push himself, rather than appearing in big-budget blockbusters. Again, in the last decade, he’s worked with Terrence Malick in 2012’s To the Wonder, starred in David Fincher’s Gone Girl in 2014, and last year’s The Way Back, in which Affleck played an alcoholic basketball coach soon after Affleck himself left rehab for substance abuse issues.
It’s unclear what Ben Affleck’s statement says about his future with the DC Universe. Affleck will be appearing in Zack Snyder’s cut of the Justice League, coming this year to HBO Max, and he’s returning as Batman for The Flash. Maybe it’s the possibility of working with Michael Keaton, or the craziness of playing around with the multiverse that interests Affleck? The actor has shown interest in superheroes and comic books since his work with Kevin Smith in the 90s, so it seems likely that playing Batman might still factor into films that he finds rewarding.
But just because Ben Affleck wants to focus on more personal films doesn’t mean his movies are going to be any smaller or massive. His next film, Deep Water, is an erotic thriller in which Affleck plays alongside his ex-girlfriend Ana de Armas. Even bigger is The Last Duel, directed by Ridley Scott, and brings Affleck back to writing with his Good Will Hunting writing partner, Matt Damon. The two wrote the film with Can You Ever Forgive Me? writer Nicole Holofcener, and the film stars Damon, Affleck, Adam Driver, and Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer. Just because the films are more interesting to him doesn’t mean they’re necessarily going to be any smaller.
Ben Affleck is a two-time Oscar winner, who can act, write and direct. There’s no reason he shouldn’t focus on films that he finds personal and interesting. What that means for his future in the DC Universe is yet to be seen, but it seems like making them all for himself is going to make his movies even better.