Ben Affleck is out. The Batman is over, light the script on fire and reboot the DCEU. Now Matt Reeves is “committed.” I loved his Planet of the Apes flick, so he will, single handedly, be the savior of all genre movies. Matt Reeves walks away from contract negotiations without a contract. Warner Bros. obviously doesn’t know what they’re doing and they should all be exiled Dark Knight Rises style. A week later, Matt Reeves returns to negotiations and signs on the dotted line. This is good news! But the press release doesn’t mention Ben Affleck as the star, so… the cycle goes on and on and on.
This is fandom, as it is. I don’t think we’re a bad bunch of people. Many of those who I would consider to be my friends are there because we share a fandom, and I dislike any article that talks down to those of us who are passionate about something geeky. If you’re a DC Comics fan, particularly if you are a fan of DC on film, then you are probably as exhausted as I am of all the negativity. Ever since the lead up to Batman v Superman, I have tried my best to stay away from reading the latest comic book movie scoop, or what so-and-so thought about Movie X because they may or may not have seen an early cut of the film. If I learned anything from the circus that surrounded Batman v Superman it is this: we are just fans, passionate about these stories, whose passion sometimes gets in the way of our ability to simply enjoy what we are being given.
Looking past even the obvious examples (what if Flash’s Suicide Squad cameo wasn’t spoiled to us before anyone even had a chance to buy a movie ticket?), our thirst for more and more information on these movies is feeding the negative cycle of panic. Behind-the-scenes drama is nothing new for movies, but, for ninety-nine percent of them, we have no desire to read every detail about their development even before they are in pre-production. But now, every negative turn in a movie’s infancy is turned into internet-breaking headlines, regardless of whether the turn is accompanied by actual verifiable proof or not.
I love Batman. When I heard that Ben Affleck was leaving as director, I was (understandably) devastated. I bought into the noise that the movie was done, and that we would never see another Batman movie until after the DCEU closed shop. And then when contract negotiations with Matt Reeves initially broke down, I was angry. I completely believed at the time that Affleck would now leave as star, and even though he very well still could, I will not approach these things with the fear and worry of what could go wrong. As we know, Reeves came back to the table and is now in place as the director, and was welcomed in by Ben Affleck himself. Does this mean anything in the long run? Probably not. But what does it matter to me right now when I’m a few months out from seeing Ben Affleck play Batman in Justice League? Why shouldn’t I just be excited about seeing this dream finally come to the silver screen without having to worry about the next movie? I’m drowning in the shallow end of a pool of information instead of just enjoying the water.
Fandom isn’t broken and it certainly isn’t toxic, but the desire for information about movies that are yet to even be screened as opposed to discussion on movies that I have seen and love (and even those that I didn’t) is toxic to my ability to enjoy these things. Even in comics, the online discussion of DC’s Rebirth line between bloggers and, unfortunately, some creators, has turned the discussion away from the actual quality of the stories being told to whether the sales numbers were impressive enough. While all that is important, the arguments, the worry, and the race to be the first to get the hottest scoop has devalued the art forms I love and has robbed me of the joy I once got from them.
I think that the movie scoop business is too big to fail at this point. The hot takes on every development on these tent-pole properties will continue to pour out. If that is how you enjoy your fandom, more power to you. For me, I find no joy in it anymore. I still love Batman, Superman, and all their four-colored friends and enemies, but I think that there are simply too many good stories involving these characters I love to spend too much time worrying about what those future stories may have in store for me. I think I’m going to let the story carry me there instead.