Following weeks of speculation over whether or not he would stay on, Ben Affleck confirmed this week that he will not in fact be directing WB’s The Batman, which of course has led to widespread speculation over whom might replace him. While it sounds like both parties reached this decision amicably, the truth is that DC’s movie business has not been having luck with keeping filmmakers as of late. The Flash has already suffered through two director exits and is now pretty much building from scratch, and even Wonder Woman lost Michelle MacLaren prior to Patty Jenkins coming on board. Considering The Batman is set to be one of the WB’s most important tentpole releases in the next few years, it’s hard to see the studio reaching a decision quickly when it comes to finding the right man or woman to take the reigns from Affleck. At the same time, with production set to start this summer, a decision will have to be made sooner rather than later.
Fortunately, WB reportedly already has a shortlist of names they want for the job. This information comes courtesy of Forbes’ Mark Hughes, who reports that WB currently has five names in mind for The Batman. While it’s still much too early to tell whether any of the following filmmakers are realistically in the running to direct, each of them could certainly bring something special to the table if given the chance. I’ve arranged their names in order from least to most likely, although that doesn’t mean that any of them will ultimately sign on.
5. Denis Villneuve
It’s hard not to get excited by the prospect of Denis Villeneuve making a Batman movie, as the guy is one of the hottest genre filmmakers in the business right now. His filmography up to this point — which includes the likes of Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario, and Arrival, the last of which could earn Villeneuve a Best Director Oscar at this year’s ceremony — is absolutely stellar and his involvement with Blade Runner 2049 has convinced even the most cynical sci-fi fans that a Blade Runner sequel might actually work.
With that kind of resume, WB would be crazy not to try and woo a director as talented as Villeneuve, but at the same time, it’s hard to see there being any room in his schedule to direct a huge blockbuster like The Batman. Once he’s finished with Blade Runner 2049, Villeneuve will have months of press and promotion to look forward to and after that, he could be busy with Dune for Legendary Pictures. Admittedly, the fact that Villeneuve hasn’t officially signed onto that project does leave room for him to tackle The Batman, but considering he’s a self-professed Dune fan, it’s difficult to see Villeneuve picking Batman over it if push came to shove.