Remember three years ago, when Sad Ben Affleck was born out of the press tour for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice? (Also, whoa, Batman v Superman was three years ago.) Cut to 2019, and Affleck is anything but mopey as the actor declares with a smile, “I’m not Batman” on late night TV. (Watch a short clip above and the full interview at the bottom of this article.)
In an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Thursday to promote his Netflix movie Triple Frontier, Affleck discussed leaving the role of Batman in the current DC “Extended Universe.” Affleck played the role in 2016’s Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad, and in 2017’s Justice League.
“I tried to direct a version of it, worked with a really good screenwriter,” the actor told the late night host (and former lover), “But I couldn’t crack it. So I thought it was time to let someone else take a shot at it.”
Smiling and laughing before an audience, the actor clearly looks at ease since being freed from playing the Caped Crusader. His demeanor is in contrast to his generally darker mood we saw when he was Batman, an era of his public persona characterized by nihilistic cigarette smoking and garish back tattoos. It was in March 2018, when Affleck was still cemented in his superhero role, when The New Yorker ran a story titled “The Great Sadness of Ben Affleck.”
Rumors of Ben Affleck’s exit had swirled around the internet since early 2017. Several times, the actor had to confirm that yes, he was still Batman thank you very much, and that he was still working on his solo effort The Batman, which he would write and direct. Then, in February 2017, War for the Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves took over writing and directing duties for The Batman.
By the late fall of 2017, when Affleck was promoting Justice League, he told USA Today that he was trying to “find a cool way to segue out of it.” On January 30, 2019, Affleck confirmed via Twitter that wouldn’t play Batman in the upcoming Reeves movie.
Kimmel, at least, has helped Affleck memorialize his run as Batman. During his Thursday night appearance, the comedian “retired” a Tom Brady Number 12 Batman cape (get it? Because Affleck is from Boston?) with the help of Kimmel’s comedy sidekick, Guillermo Rodriguez, who came dressed as Robin. Or, “Robert.” They made space for the cape by getting rid of Matt Damon’s bejeweled thong from his role in the 2013 HBO movie, Behind the Candelabra.
Affleck sniffed it, saying it still has the musk of his BFF. He smiled and laughed.
Matt Reeves’ The Batman will be released in theaters on June 25, 2021.