Filmmaker Matt Reeves’ origin story on the highly anticipated Warner Bros. reboot “The Batman” begins with him almost passing on the project altogether. When Reeves was originally offered the chance to meet with Warners about directing “The Batman,” the film had an existing script co-written by Ben Affleck – one that Reeves now admits he wasn’t too fond of tackling himself, despite calling it a “totally valid” take on a new Batman movie.
Speaking with Esquire, Reeves relayed his initial conversations with Warner Bros. about directing a Batman film. “I read a script that they had that was a totally valid take on the movie,” Reeves said. “It was very action driven. It was very deeply connected to the DCEU, with other major characters from other movies and other comics popping up. I just knew that when I read it this particular script was not the way I’d want to do it.”
Indeed, Affleck was originally set to direct and star in his own Batman movie following his turns as the Caped Crusader in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Justice League,” but in Jan. 2017 the Oscar-winning “Argo” filmmaker revealed he’d be stepping down from the director’s chair – although he still planned to star in and produce the film.
It’s at this point that Reeves was approached with the existing script by Affleck and former DC Entertainment CCO Geoff Johns, but the “War for the Planet of the Apes” filmmaker countered WB’s proposal with a different offer: the only way he could see himself directing the movie is if he wrote the script himself.
“I said, ‘Look, I think maybe I’m not the person for this,’” Reeves told Esquire. “And I explained to them why I love this character. I told them that there have been so many great movies, but if I were to do this, I’d have to make it personal, so that I understood what I was going to do with it, so that I know where to put the camera, so that I know what to tell the actors, so that I know what the story should be. This take, I told them, pointing at the script, is a totally valid and exciting take. It is almost James Bond-ian, but it wasn’t something that I quite related to.”
Reeves then pitched Warner Bros. on taking the film in a more personal direction. “So what I’d love to do, if you’re interested, is I’d like to get involved and find a way to take the story and make it very, very personal and get to the place I want him to be, to make it a ‘Batman’ story and give him the arc, and have the story rock him to his core,” the filmmaker revealed. “It wasn’t going to be another origin story, not with Ben already in the character. But that’s what I would do.”
Reeves formally signed on to the film in Feb. 2017, and Affleck eventually dropped out of the project altogether, giving Reeves and co-writer Peter Craig a blank slate. Which is how they hit upon the idea of casting a younger actor in the role, dropping any and all DCEU references and focusing on Batman in Year Two of his crusade against crime. And thus “The Batman” was born.
“The Batman,” starring Robert Pattinson in the titular role, opens exclusively in theaters on March 4.