Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. With yet another piece of my coverage from the set of Justice League. If you've read my set report you'll notice I talked about getting to be part of the mob of nerdy bloggers that surrounded Ben Affleck in between set ups, while he was in full on Batsuit.
Now, his cowl was off, which is the only thing that broke the illusion, but there was something fun about talking to Affleck while he had the raccoon eyes thing going on. I'm a big fan of how honestly and in stride he took many of these questions. I have many problems with Batman V Superman, but none of my issues with were in his performance.
In the below interview will make more sense if you read my big set report, so if you haven't done that then feel free to mosey on over to the left hand column and give it a read (scroll down to the “Filming” section if you're an impatient sort).
Question: This sounds like a different Batman a little bit. “The bad guys' flying monkeys.” He's got a little bit of an attitude this time.
Ben Affleck: Yeah, he has a little more sardonic humor, a little more irony. He's a little bit more of a man on a mission this time. He was so full of anger because of what happened at the Zero Event last time and that kind of colored the whole character, you know, that rage that possessed him.
Now he's on a mission to get this group together, so that Bruce Wayne sort of rye ironic gallows humor sort of stuff comes out. It's not like a ha-ha jokey (tone), but more darker humor stuff is present in the movie.
Question: Does Batman have a hard time playing with others?
Affleck: Well, that's the interesting thing about this Batman. On the one hand he's sort of the ultimate loner. On the other hand he's tasked with putting together a group, so is a guy who basically sits and broods in a cave all day the best suited to put together a team of superheroes? He doesn't have huge success initially. He rubs them the wrong way or they rub him the wrong way and he's gotta figure out how to play well with others and he barely knows how to play well with Alfred.
Question: Does he see The Flash as a Robin-esque sort of character?
Affleck: That's interesting. There's an element of that to it. There's a quality to what Ezra does that is young and fun and full of life and excited about what they're doing that's so in contrast to who Batman is. There's a little bit of that natural yin and yang to playing scenes with him. There's not the ward aspect of it, but there is a little bit of a mentor (relationship). Of course, if you ask Ezra he'd probably be like, “Fuck that! He's not my mentor!” But I think there is a little bit.
It's fun to play, definitely. What does Batman do around a guy who's really excited and positive all the time? It's not his natural state of being, so that's really fun. It's been really, really cool. Everybody has brought a certain kind of energy to their character that's really distinct. All of a sudden it's a totally different kind of movie than the last one because it's really an ensemble movie. This is a movie about a bunch of different people with different qualities of character and how they work together and what that melting pot was like.
Question: One of the things that was really well done in BvS were your fight scenes. How are you ramping up from that to this in terms of seeing what Batman can do?
Affleck: We have the same guys who choreographed that on this. I'd like to say that it was my idea, but I just do what they tell me. We have a lot of the same guys in visual effects and in practical stunts and they do really creative and cool stuff. They come up with really great ideas. It's the same way I'd approach it if I were directing; find a great coordinator and stunt guys and effects guys who can actually execute this stuff and put yourself in their hands and let them do it.
It's like being a composer. It's kind of a separate thing, that kind of fighting and combat, that layers on to the movie. If it works it feels like it's flawlessly integrated. How could Star Wars exist without that music, you know what I mean?
Question: You're an executive producer on this thing. How has that changed your roll? Do you have more ownership on Batman now?
Affleck: Why I'm an executive producer is because I'm directing another one of the movies, so there's some cross-pollination of story and characters. I don't want to give any of that stuff away, but it just basically means it's possible there might be some things that happen in my Batman that are affected by... I mean, here we are on the roof of the police station in Gotham City. He's an example of something that might potentially also exist in that story.
It's a creative way that DC came up with, both being a filmmaker driven company and also making sure the right hand knows what the left hand is doing and that there's collaboration and supervision so somebody doesn't go sailing off and causing problems with your movie with their movie. It's a kind of courtesy, in a way. You know what they're doing. I get to weigh in on stuff that impacts the Batman stuff.
Question: How big a role is Geoff Johns in this?
Affleck: Big. Geoff's a big part of things. He's not here now, he's having a baby, but Geoff's a brilliant guy. There's nobody that I know that knows more about comic books. He's got great taste and he's super smart and super nice. Jon Berg as well has a big role, but really this is Zack's movie and we're here executing Zack's vision.
Question: Will there be more Detective work on Batman's part in this movie?
Affleck: The world's greatest detective aspect of Batman is more present in this story than it was in the last one and it would probably be expanded upon further in the Batman movie that I would do. All great Batman stories are, at their heart, detective stories. That's why they feel a little bit like noir movies in a way. It feels like The Maltese Falcon.
The heart of this detective story... there's a “what's happening?” element in it. How do I find these people and bring them together?
Question: Talking about great Batman stories, obviously The Dark Knight Returns was a big influence on BvS. That was sort of an end of Batman story. Batman quits at the end, but you're making a movie now after that, so how do you bring Batman back from the dark edge he was on now?
Affleck: Exactly. You make a really interesting point. That was very heavily influenced by The Dark Knight Returns and this one has other influences that I don't want to name because then it'll give away a big story element, but working with (Chris) Terrio and Geoff Johns and obviously Zack we've done what any smart person would do and stole all the best material we can. There's great material out there.
But obviously this is now not the guy at the end of his rope. He's beginning again. He's starting over, reborn and believing and finding hope. He really believes in this idea of forming this group. That starts him off and that's his core mission. Obviously that's something different. That's a guy who has not given up. He deeply believes this is something that needs to happen and he's in the awkward position of being out there with a cup in his hand trying to say, “Listen, believe in this. This is a good idea.”
Question: The tone is dark in BvS. We've already seen lighter tone today. What would you say is the difference between these two movies?
Affleck: There's definitely room for more humor. DC movies, by their nature, I think are still a little bit more mythic than some comic book movies are. That movie was a really heavy, dark movie that was rooted in The Dark Knight Returns, which is a heavy, dark book. This is not that. This is an evolution from that, bringing together all these characters. It's about multilateralism, it's about hope, it's about working together and the kind of conflicts you have working together.
It's a world where all these other superheroes exist, so there's comedy that goes into that, trying to work with other people... People trying to accomplish goals together is the root of all great comedy in my view, so there's definitely, hopefully, some fun in it, but it's still recognizably these characters. It's not turning upside down.
Question: We've seen the Mother Boxes and concept art for the Parademons. Is there a part of Batman that's going “I'm too old for this shit!” It's not just one alien or one monster. It's a lot of stuff.
Affleck: It's not “I'm too old for this shit,” it's “I need help!” These guys are getting way out of his league. It's certainly stepping up to that level in some of the comic books where you have a lot of things from other planets and other supervillains who are way more powerful than your average human being and you've got a Batarang and a grappling hook. He's not equipped to deal with it.
We're able to explore the powers of other heroes and what they can do. If you want to be able to use the powers of Flash and Wonder Woman and Cyborg you have to have bad guys that are up to snuff, give them room to get their cars out on the track and open up the accelerator.
Question: Is there any kind of challenge to Bruce's leadership? Aquaman is a King. He might not want to take orders.
Affleck: Aquaman is a very strong character played by a very strong actor with a strong personality. Jason Mamoa is not a guy that necessary takes orders from anybody in his life. He's got a very strong, stubborn, independent, powerful energy. It's not like any of these characters show up and go “Yes, sir! What should I do?” This is about trying to get a lot of disperate people who are used to being very strong and powerful and independent and getting them to work together and it's about how hard that is.
There are some characters who hit it off with each other and some that don't hit it off with each other and almost come to blows. It's about trying to contain that. It's not an easy ride trying to get this group to come together.
Question: There was a controversy about Batman killing in BvS. How's he in this one?
Affleck: In the last movie, Batman definitely went into a very dark place that was rooted in this trauma that occurred to people that he loved and worked with. This really is not about that issue to him anymore. He's no longer extreme in that way. From the experience of the last movie, he learns some things, I think, and now is... I'm trying to say it without giving away spoilers, but he's wanting to redeem himself and he's wanting mankind to be redeemed and he's wanting to make the world better, having learned lessons from the last one.
Question: You have a solo Batman movie coming out. Do you have a time frame of when you'd like to see that in theaters?
Affleck: I think they have a date for it, but honestly I don't know if I'd necessarily be able to make that date because I don't have a script that's ready yet. My timetable is that 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 things when you make a movie and the script is not good yet and it doesn't pan out.
Question: Can I ask where you are in the scripting process? Is there a draft you're happy with or a story you're happy with and it's about fleshing it out further?
Affleck: I have a script. We're still working on it and I'm not happy enough with it to make actually go out there and make a Batman movie. I have the highest of standards (for a Batman movie). It would have to pass a very high bar for me, not just like “Yeah, that might be fun. Let's go bang this out.”
(To all of us as he's pulled back to set) Have fun, enjoy it. See this? There's Flash over there. You got Wonder Woman, you got Cyborg, who gets to wear silk pajamas the whole movie while we're sweating it out in leather!
And he wasn't lying. Just 10 feet behind us were Flash and Wonder Woman cracking each other up (something they did during some of the take I saw as well). Cyborg was there, too, but without his big red eye light turned on he really did just look like he was wearing PJs.
Hope you enjoyed that little, farm-fresh glimpse into the mind of the star of Justice League!