Affleck Resists the Bat-Signal
April 2016: Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara officially announces a standalone Batman film, with Affleck attached to direct and star. Despite nine months of rumors, the proclamation nonetheless soon proves premature.
June 2016: During a visit by journalists to the London set of Justice League, Affleck first signals that he's not about to be rushed into production of a Batman film. “I think they have a date for it,” he said. “Although, I don’t know if I would necessarily be able to make that date, because I don’t have a script that’s ready yet. So my timetable is, I’m not going to make a movie until there’s a script that I think is good because I’ve been on the end of the things when you make movies when you have a script that’s not good yet and it doesn’t pan out."
August 2016: Affleck reprises his role as Batman for a cameo in writer/director David Ayer's Suicide Squad, viewed as a chance for Warner Bros. to right the ship after Batman v Superman. However, following its record-breaking $133.7 million domestic debut, the film experiences a steep decline in its second weekend of release, much like its predecessor, attributed to negative reviews and poor word of mouth.
October 2016: While promoting his action thriller The Accountant, Affleck seemingly reveals the solo movie will be titled The Batman, only to swiftly walk that back. "There is no Batman movie happening yet," he said. "We’re still trying to figure it out, you know, get the script and budget and all that stuff. And someone said, ‘What are you calling it?’ and I had said, like, back when we were promoting another movie, I was like, ‘We don’t have a name for it, we’re just going with The Batman or Batman movie,’ and I said that, and everyone was like ‘Affleck announces the name of his Batman movie.'” If it seems like Affleck is getting annoyed by the intense scrutiny the accompanies a big-budget superhero movie, that's probably because he is.
December 2016: Affleck asserts, "I’m a real believer in not reverse-engineering projects to meet a window or a date," even as Warner Bros. announces a 2018 release for the Batman movie. "There’s not enough money in the world to make a mediocre version of Batman worth it," he said.
January 2017: Affleck kicks off the new year by casting more doubt about a 2018 release, saying the film is "not a set thing and there’s no script." "If it doesn’t come together in a way I think is really great I’m not going to do it," he added, perhaps telegraphing what's to come.
January 2017: Confessing he's frustrated by the pressure to deliver a Batman script, Affleck says all of the attention given to the project is "such a pain in the ass." “It’s like every time I mention Batman it gets this huge clickbait. When I was doing this movie it took me two years to get it together, but nobody ever asked me, ‘Where’s “Live by Night?’ You know? They ask me ‘Batman, Batman, Batman.’ Batman’s coming along, it’s going to be great. We’re going to make something really special. We’re going to take the time to make it right. We’re going to do it good.”
January 2017: A little more than two weeks later, Warner Bros. announces Affleck will no longer direct the Batman film. He's replaced the following month by Matt Reeves (War for the Planet of the Apes), who ultimately decides to scrap the script written by Affleck and Johns.