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Why Matt Reeves Initially Said 'No' to The Batman and the DCEU

The director insisted on staying true to the character inside his own world first.

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Matt Reeves wears a purple scarf at a red carpet event.
WB didn’t show up outside his window with a boombox blasting Seal’s Kissed by a Rose
Photo: Jeff Spicer (Getty Images)

Bat meets Cat, Penguin, and Riddler without an origin story in what we know so far about The Batman, which was stipulated by design in order for Matt Reeves to sign onto the film. Robert Pattinson’s masked crusader is centered in his sophomore year of crime fighting and encountering figures that will begin to fill out his Rogues’ Gallery.

In an interview with Uproxx, Matt Reeves revealed that Warner Bros courted him while he thought he was the wrong person for the job. “The last thing that I felt I could do was to do a movie that was a standalone Batman movie, the first one in 10 years, that they also had to connect elsewhere. I thought it’s going to be enough just to do Batman in his world. So that was something that I said from the beginning was important to me: that I not have to do anything deliberately to connect it to other things.”


Despite his initial reluctance, Reeves eventually met with WB and then-current Batman actor Ben Affleck to explore if he aligned with what they were trying to achieve. “At that point, obviously, Ben Affleck was still doing the movie, and there was an iteration of it ... I could see why they wanted to do it, but obviously it did connect to the broader world, to the broader DCEU. It was very action-oriented ... it was like a James Bond kind of thing.”

And while that film would have made sense for the space Affleck’s take occupied in the DCEU at the time, it wasn’t what Reeves had in mind. He explained, “I thought the meeting would be very short because I thought I would meet with them and say ... ‘I can totally see why you would do this, but this isn’t the way that I would do it. I have to find some way in that feels personal to me or I wouldn’t know how to make it for you.’”


As time went on and plans began to change with the ever-evolving DC slate of films, Reeves found himself in ongoing conversations with WB about what he would do with his take on Batman. Citing neo-noir films like The Zodiac and L.A. Confidential, Reeves explained he wanted to drop in on Batman’s journey uncovering Gotham’s seedy underbelly through burgeoning crime lords, lone vigilantes, and connections they could have from the bottom to the officials at the top: “I didn’t want to do one of these stories where the Rogues’ Gallery characters come in and it’s really their story and Batman is a cipher because he’s already mastered himself. I wanted him to have an awakening. I wanted something that would rock him to his core.”

After the success of Todd Phillips’ The Joker and James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, you can see why WB continued its pursuit of a more Chinatown take on Batman in Gotham as opposed to a Year One-style origin story. “They did wait for me, and then they let me make this movie. This is the movie I wanted to make. Whatever people think of the movie, flaws and all, whatever it is, it’s not because there were edicts thrown down ... [I wanted to] have [Batman] have a ways to go—have him have an arc so that he’s not quite figured it out, and have him have an awakening.”

Reeves’ vision—think of it as an entire comic book run encapsulated into one three-hour movie—obviously earned WB’s approval in the end; The Batman arrives March 4.

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