The new Batman movie officially has a director. While Ben Affleck was poised to take the helm of the new solo feature The Batman, he opted to step away from the director’s chair a few weeks ago, leaving a very enviable vacancy. Warner Bros. worked quickly to find a new director who could bring something fresh to the DCEU, and they’ve found that person in Cloverfield and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves.
Reeves actually surfaced as the top choice to direct The Batman two weeks ago, but late last Friday news broke that talks between Reeves and Warner Bros. had broken down, and it was unclear if they would ever resume. Warner Bros. certainly had a number of other qualified candidates in the mix—including Ridley Scott and Fede Alvarez (Don’t Breathe)—but today the studio made it official by announcing that Reeves will direct and produce The Batman after all.
In an official statement on the matter, Reeves—who’s in post-production on War for the Planet of the Apes—had this to say:
“I have loved the Batman story since I was a child. He is such an iconic and compelling character, and one that resonates with me deeply. I am incredibly honored and excited to be working with Warner Bros. to bring an epic and emotional new take on the Caped Crusader to the big screen.”
Echoing Reeves’ excitement, WB President and Chief Content Officer Tony Emmerich added:
“We are thrilled to have Matt Reeves taking the helm of Batman, the crown jewel of our DC slate. Matt’s deep roots in genre films and his evolution into an emotional world-building director make him the perfect filmmaker to guide the Dark Knight through this next journey.”
You’ll notice that in neither of these statements is Ben Affleck mentioned, and in fact his name doesn’t appear in Warner Bros.’ official press release at all. This is…curious.
While Affleck was certainly a highlight of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, in which he made his debut as the Caped Crusader, he wasn’t exactly expecting the critical shellacking that the film received. Filming on the follow-up Justice League began mere weeks after Batman v Superman hit theaters, and while that film is in the can, Affleck has been quietly working on a script for The Batman with Geoff Johns for some time now. The intention was that he would direct, but he made it clear he didn’t want to make the film until it was ready. He took some pressure off by backing out of the director’s chair, but with Affleck’s name noticeably absent from today’s press release, one has to wonder if Affleck is now out of the DECU entirely, making Reeves’ film yet another reboot of the Dark Knight.
Reeves has big shoes to fill as Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy is fresh in people’s minds. Many noted that while Affleck’s turn as Batman was interesting, it was still too soon to reboot the character. Regardless, Warner Bros. likes money and Batman is one of the most famous comics characters in history, so he wasn’t going to stay dormant for too long.
The question now is A. Is Affleck still Batman and B. If not, what does Reeves’ take entail? Does it still mesh with Zack Snyder’s established DECU continuity given that Justice League is in the can? Does it go back in time and try to retell Batman’s origin story? Or do they pull a Joel Schumacher and simply recast the role Batman Forever style?