Like a rarefied wine, many comments from Bret Easton Ellis can come across either as delicious zingers or sour grapes, depending on the context. The outspoken writer has rarely shied from making controversial statements, whether he’s musing about the incompetence of Hollywood executives, the stupidity of the American left, or the general idiocy of most people not named Bret Easton Ellis. But this past week, he’s had to walk back some thoughts he shared about the new Batman screenplay, for the small but noteworthy reason that he doesn’t know the slightest thing about the subject in question.
During an interview with The Ringer, Ellis was holding court on the subject of movies—how they’re made, why they suck, the need to have him write more of them—and he offered up some anecdotal evidence that suggested Ben Affleck’s script for the new Batman movie, tentatively titled The Batman, was terrible. All he said was that a couple unnamed executives who had nothing to do with the film had heard the script sucked but no one cared, because it’s going to make Warner Bros. roughly the same amount of dollars as there are molecules in existence. It’s the kind of offhand rumor that gets tossed out a million times a day in L.A., but becomes a little different when it’s published online and starts a small conniption fit among the many people invested in the next Batman movie, be they fans or middle management desperate to keep their jobs by delivering a halfway decent DC superhero film.
So Bret Easton Ellis took to the internet, the medium of kings and Kardashians, saints and sinners alike, to clarify his statement. The gist of his apologia is that he was reporting a secondhand rumor, so who the hell knows if it’s true or not. Ben Affleck’s screenplay might well be the finest script in all the land, engraved in gold on Mount Olympus to preserve its perfection, for all Ellis knows. It’s a rare instance of the writer telling people not to listen to him, an event that happens with approximately the same frequency as Halley’s Comet being visible to the naked eye from Earth. Hopefully Ellis doesn’t follow his own warning to be more careful during interviews, though, because how else will we get our unfounded criticisms of movies that haven’t been made yet? Rumor has it, a couple unnamed executives are about to reveal Bret Easton Ellis was going to disparage Aquaman next. Our third cousin heard his neighbor say the screenplay is just awful.