Matt Reeves has a tough job ahead of him in writing and directing the movie colloquially known as “The Batman”.
The film has grown out of a failed Ben Affleck project, which many believed was the real reason the actor had been cast as Bruce Wayne in the first place.
Ben Affleck plays Batman in “BvS”. Then he directs and stars in “The Batman”. It all made sense.
Until it didn’t make sense anymore. Crushed by the scrutiny of a million eager fans, and forced by the studio to move faster in preproduction than he wanted to, Affleck bailed out of the director’s chair.
If he couldn’t make the film the way he wanted, then he wasn’t going to make it at all.
Thus, in taking over this film (and scrapping all the work Affleck had already done), Matt Reeves has to live up to the legacy of a movie that never truly existed.
It’s hard to follow something like this. Reeves’ movie needs to surpass an imaginary, idealized version of a film that fans had hyped up to the point that it imploded.
Passing the Mantle
Thankfully, Reeves seems up to the task. Speaking about the script for “The Batman”, he recently stated:
“We are working on getting our draft in the next couple of weeks and things are progressing. We have conceptual stuff going and coming into being and my head is totally in the script. In fact I’m going to be leaving right now (from the Beverly Hilton) to work on the script. I’m just excited to be focused on a tale that’s defying for him (Batman) and is very personal to him, but at the same time, we’re really–obviously we’re not doing any origin tales or anything like that –but definitely Batman, emotional, and him being the world’s greatest detective.”
There are several things to take from this.
The first is that Reeves is not being rushed. It sounds like he’s working on the script at his own pace, and is not merely bashing it out for the sake of meeting a tight studio deadline.
This is significant, because Ben Affleck’s version of the film was killed in large part by the overly aggressive schedule that had been set in place. Warner Bros wanted the whole project done in eighteen months, which was simply far too fast to ensure any degree of quality.
I suspect that when Reeves took the job, he deliberately negotiated for the freedom to make this film at his own pace. This means a longer wait for “The Batman” (or whatever this ends up getting called), but it also means that the film won’t be thrown together haphazardly simply so that studio executives can justify a new round of bonuses.
The other thing I feel is interesting about Reeves’ quote is that he’s not doing an origin story.
This feels like a breath of fresh air.
Back to the Alley
“Batman” movie franchises always seem to come back to dramatizing the moment when Thomas and Martha Wayne are funned down in an alley.
By this point, the scene is unnecessary. We get it. The public has been seeing this same event play out every few years for decades. We can be trusted to keep up without seeing Jeffrey Dean Morgan trying to bring a fist to a gun fight.
(Also, as an aside, the Thomas Wayne of the current DC universe is an idiot. You don’t try to punch a mugger. That’s how you end up getting shot.)
In spite of the lack of an origin story, it sounds like Reeves has a plan for making this movie cut to the heart of who Batman is.
We’ve seen this kind of story before. “The Dark Knight”, the seminal cinematic work on the character, delves into his ideology without forcing us to relive the death of his parents yet again.
I’m eager to see what Reeves creates. I suspect that this might just be one of the better “Batman” films – especially if he’s been granted the freedom to do something fresh and original.
Either way, it’s not like it’s going to be the worst “Batman” movie.