Matt Reeves To Direct The Batman

Matt Reeves – known for his work on Cloverfield and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – has been chosen to direct The Batman, the standalone DC universe movie starring Ben Affleck as the Dark Knight, Warner Bros. announced in a statement on Thursday. He has been brought in to fill the position Affleck vacated last month.

In addition, Reeves will also serve as a producer on the film, the studio revealed. There’s no word on whether he has signed up for a multi-picture deal. The omission of Affleck’s name from the announcement added fuel to the fire that he may not return to the character after this year’s Justice League, but Warner Bros. confirmed later he “is still attached to star”.

“I have loved the Batman story since I was a child,” Reeves said. “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.”

Reeves recently finished work on War for the Planet of the Apes, the third entry in the franchise, and his second Apes venture personally. The sci-fi war film will release July 14, with a lot riding on it after the critical acclaim garnered by its predecessor.

In that light, Reeves seems to be the right guy to take on another big franchise, though a Batman movie comes with its own set of demands, and expectations. Warner Bros., for its part, seems to have confidence in their new man.

“We are thrilled to have Matt Reeves taking the helm of Batman, the crown jewel of our DC slate,” Toby Emmerich, president and chief content officer, Warner Bros. Pictures Group, said. 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.”

The Batman is expected to begin filming later this year, as a finished script was still not in place as of last month, according to Affleck. Geoff Johns, Chris Terrio, and Affleck have all contributed.

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Scott Hart

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87 Comments

  1. I think DC needs to take a break from Batman (and Superman, for that matter). Recent films featuring the character have disappointed, and they've been having much more success bringing characters to the screen who have not had feature films in the past (Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Suicide Squad).

    Batman has been the primary focus or featured character in nine films in less than 30 years. I think the audience is burned out.

  2. Sam Favate

    What a major fail that Warner could not get a movie out in 2019, the year of Batman’s 80th anniversary and the 30th anniversary of the Tim Burton film.

    We've seen what happens when studios rush movies to make release dates. I'd much rather wait until 2021, anniversary or not, if the movie is going to be better for the wait.

    Malcolm R

    I think DC needs to take a break from Batman

    I think the success of Aquaman probably emboldened them to do this. They were going to do it anyway, but Aquaman debuted in Justice League, which was not well-received, and yet his standalone film has become an enormous success despite that, and that's featuring the same actor. If Reeves is able to make his version distinctive and different than what we've seen before, I doubt the Snyder films (and Suicide Squad) featuring Batman will be an issue. Of course, if this one isn't good either or feels derivative of past versions, then the audience will notice. But Reeves did a great job with his two Planet of the Apes films, and I'm curious about this because he's directing it.

    By the time this film comes out, it will have been nine years since the last standalone Batman film in The Dark Knight Rises (unless you count The Lego Batman Movie, which is a Batman film, but feels like a separate thing.

    However, I do think the proximity of the release date to the James Gunn Suicide Squad project is a little weird since they seem likely to bump up against each other. This one is June 21 and that one is August 6, 2021. Especially if both filmmakers are given creative control and don't have to link their movies to each other, that feels like a strangely compressed release timetable for these projects.

    Disney is doing it with Captain Marvel and Endgame, but those at least are directly connected to each other.

  3. Tino

    That’s too bad. Affleck was the best Batman I thought.

    Although I didn't like BvS, I did like Affleck in BvS. I think it was a bad movie, but it wasn't his fault.

    That being said, I totally get why they will be going with a different actor. By putting Affleck in it, it is immediately connected to two films in which he was a major presence which were not well-received critically and by most audiences. By recasting it, they give Reeves more freedom to do his own take on the character, and they don't have to have the baggage that comes with BvS and JL.

    If it's a prequel, they can more or less ignore the question of whether it's in the same continuity as those films. Or they can just reboot it altogether. Wonder Woman and Aquaman have worked for them inside the DCEU continuity, but Batman and Superman certainly did not.

    I think letting Reeves do what he wants is the best approach. Last time they were trying to figure out how to reboot this character on his own — before shared universes became the thing to do in Hollywood — Warner Bros. let Christopher Nolan do whatever he wanted with the character, and the result was arguably the best superhero trilogy of all time. Matt Reeves deserves to be given the same opportunity.

  4. Jake Lipson

    I totally get why they will be going with a different actor. By putting Affleck in it, it is immediately connected to two films in which he was a major presence which were not well-received critically and by most audiences.

    To be clear, this was Affleck’s decision to pass as his plate is full. Warner is not replacing him in this prequel for the reasons you listed.

  5. Tino

    That’s too bad. Affleck was the best Batman I thought.

    I wouldn't say that he was the best (Kevin Conroy, Adam West and Michael Keaton for me) but I definitely liked him and thought he was the one of the best things in the current DC movies.

  6. IMO, there have only been two actors that just didn't fit as Batman, and that could well be because of the writing in those movies: Val Kilmer and George Clooney.

    Personal favorite: Adam West. I think Batman has become too dark. I crave some of the lightness that West brought to it.

  7. I absolutely love the Nolan films, and I suppose it’s possible that they’ll never be bettered in my eyes.

    But there are some things they didn’t do that I’d welcome a chance to see. The Nolan films were pretty closed, a story with a definitive beginning, middle and end. I’d love to see a new Batman series that was more ongoing, that wasn’t so much about a once-in-a-lifetime battle and instead had more of a feeling of “I’m Batman and this is my day-to-day job.” I’d love a great take on Batman that was ongoing rather than trilogy-based.

  8. Tino

    To be clear, this was Affleck’s decision to pass as his plate is full. Warner is not replacing him in this prequel for the reasons you listed.

    Where have you seen reported that it was his choice to leave?

    Josh Steinberg

    I’d love a great take on Batman that was ongoing rather than trilogy-based.

    That obviously requires an actor who is willing to do it long-term, like Robert Downy, Jr. with Tony Stark. It's not impossible to find one, but might be challenging, especially given the amount of fanboy scrutiny they will face once they step into the role. Affleck didn't appear to handle it well. We'll see what happens.

    The Nolan films are what made me like the character. I wasn't a Batman fan before them, and I still would identify myself primarily a fan of his movies. However, I'm up for seeing what Matt Reeves does with it. I don't think it's a question of "better." Batman has been around in comics for so long that there's got to be more adventures he can go on that we haven't seen before. It's very possible to have multiple good versions of the same character — Spider-Man had two good movies with Tobey McGuire, one decent movie with Andrew Garfield, and is now having a great run with Tom Holland and now the Into the Spider-Verse version running concurrently. So, the new Batman just has to be a good movie that's a different take than Nolan's . I think Matt Reeves has him in it to do that. We'll see.

  9. Jake Lipson

    Where have you seen reported that it was his choice to leave?

    The Deadline Article

    “Affleck, we understand has a busy plate: As Deadline exclusively broke he is starring in and producing the feature adaptation of Kate Alice Marshall‘s novel I Am Still Alive,which Universal won in a competitive bidding scenario. The two-time Oscar winner is also starring in the Warner Bros.’ Gavin O’Connor drama Torrance. Affleck worked hard on The Batman story, but knew he wasn’t the right one for this particular version. A search is underway for a new Dark Knight.”

  10. I'm encouraged that Reeves has said his Batman will focus on the character's detective skills, something that's rarely been used in the films. We could do with a noir Batman.

    Truthfully, what I'm really so tired of is making everything so personal for the hero. Why can't Batman – or James Bond or any character – be someone doing his job, rather than working through massive personal angst?

  11. Sam Favate

    I'm encouraged that Reeves has said his Batman will focus on the character's detective skills, something that's rarely been used in the films. We could do with a noir Batman.

    Truthfully, what I'm really so tired of is making everything so personal for the hero. Why can't Batman – or James Bond or any character – be someone doing his job, rather than working through massive personal angst?

    Given that "massive personal angst" created Batman, it seems like a core topic…

  12. Colin Jacobson

    Given that "massive personal angst" created Batman, it seems like a core topic…

    Yes, but it's been done to death. Let's just have a straight-up Batman adventure with no flashbacks to murdered parents or Bruce's upbringing as a lonely little rich boy.

  13. dpippel

    True, but it's like doing yet another Spider-Man origin story. We get it. Move on.

    Malcolm R

    Yes, but it's been done to death. Let's just have a straight-up Batman adventure with no flashbacks to murdered parents or Bruce's upbringing as a lonely little rich boy.

    Maybe I misunderstood, but I thought the comments to which I referred meant they wanted a Batman story absent of any personal angst.

    I'm fine to get a Batman movie without a retelling of the origin or flashbacks, but I still think his angst should be part of it…

  14. Yes to The World's Greatest Detective! There are so many things you can do with that. A story that includes a clear open and close case that the police have wrong and only The Batman knows it. Comic readers would love to see some of the Bruce Wayne alter-egos that he's created to get information on the streets. He doesn't always beat it out of people. Put him in a situation where there's no way out but he's prepared for it. I'm optimistic we still have many fantastic stories coming from Batman.

  15. really by now we could have had 11 great movies, script and directors be damned, the storyboards are there on the pages, lets see

    Year One
    Year Two
    Court Of Owls
    The Man Who Laughs
    The Long Halloween
    Dark Victory
    Hush
    Arkham Asylum
    The Killing Joke
    The Last Arkham
    Absolute Terror

    a good use of the rogues gallery and a story line as well, just use the damn graphic novels and film them, year one and two the suit is not perfect, and neither is Bruce, he gets knocked around a bit, it builds to him becoming "Batman" why oh why can't WB figure this out. to busy trying to make it different i guess.

  16. Wayne_j

    And he used the same exact lie that Joss Whedon used when he left Batgirl. "I just couldn't find a story".

    To be fair, Batman is a pretty new character so it's not like there are 1000s of stories that could be adapted! 😉

  17. For me it's a "wait and see". If they go Frank Miller on it, forget it, I'm not a fan of that Batman. Tim Burton's was my favorite so if they can come closer to that, I'd be happy.

  18. Malcolm R

    DC and Warner just can't help themselves, can they?

    To be fair, the initial reaction online to Heath Ledger's casting as the Joker was extremely negative, and we all know how that turned out. Remember when they posted the photos and people were freaking out because he wasn't permawhite? I wasn't alive when Michael Keaton was cast, but weren't people upset about that too?

  19. The general public at large wasn’t impressed with the signings of Michael Keaton, Christian Bale and Ben Affleck, but I think all those guys did a good job in the role. I’ll trust that Matt Reeves can recognize a good audition and am comfortable giving him the benefit of the doubt until there’s an actual film to evaluate.

  20. A friend texted me the news of Pattinson getting the role while I was away from my desk. I admit that my immediate knee-jerk response was, "Seriously?" This is mostly due to the Twilight of it all, which I'm sure is what most people will think of when they hear his name at this point in time. His is not a name I was expecting to hear at all in conjunction with Batman, and that gave me a second of pause.

    But then I thought: since I avoided ever actually watching Twilight, I've never actually seen Pattinson in anything other than Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, in which he was good, but that was the same year Christian Bale debuted as Batman. It was so long ago that I don't feel comfortable making any judgments at all about how he might perform as Batman off of that movie. I know that Pattinson has done some indie films since Twilight ended, but I don't think I've seen any of them.

    However, like @Josh Steinberg I see no reason not to trust Matt Reeves at this point in time. Reeves had a strong vision for his Planet of the Apes films, and he knew how to get what he wanted. Of course, in that case the lead was already cast for him because he did not direct Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but still. I'm comfortable assuming that Reeves has a strong vision for what he wants his Batman film to be, and if he believes Robert Pattinson is the guy to help him deliver on that vision, then I'm down with that for now. Even if I wasn't down with it, I don't have the ability to change it, so I'm choosing to extenuate the positive for now.

    If the movie sucks, I'll say so when it comes out. But it's possible this will show us a whole other side to Robert Pattinson, and that could be very exciting.

  21. Robert Pattinson is known for Twilight but he's also in actual good movies and he's excellent in them. Check out the pair of Cronenberg movies he did, The Lost City Of Z and the great Good Time.

  22. I don't know what to say about this reported casting. I've seen Robert Pattinson in some stuff, but I'm not sure about him in this role. TBH, once Affleck left the role, I kind of loss interest in any future Batman movies. I'm in the middle of shifting my attention from such films.

  23. Yes, there was tremendous uproar when Michael Keaton was cast. Though Hoult would seem more credible for me just on the basis of projects I've seen him in compared to Pattinson, I'm certainly willing to wait and see what he can do with the part.

  24. Matt Hough

    Yes, there was tremendous uproar when Michael Keaton was cast. Though Hoult would seem more credible for me just on the basis of projects I've seen him in compared to Pattinson, I'm certainly willing to wait and see what he can do with the part.

    I still don't think Keaton was good in that role. I'm not a big fan of those Batman films. Nicholson made the first Batman for me.

  25. Another thought I had: "The Batman" is a title that was sort of given to this film by default when Ben Affleck was talking about directing it because no one had anything else to call it. I think the origin of it was him talking about "The Batman solo movie" rather than Bvs or JL. I wouldn't be surprised if Matt Reeves actually comes up with a different and more inventive title by the time the movie is ready to come out. We already have just "Batman." I'm really not a fan of just adding the word "The" to something to distinguish it. (See also "The Suicide Squad.") I hope there is another title to be had that tells us a little more about what distinguishes this film from the rest in Batman's canon.

  26. TravisR

    Robert Pattinson is known for Twilight but he's also in actual good movies and he's excellent in them. Check out the pair of Cronenberg movies he did, The Lost City Of Z and the great Good Time.

    Cronenberg??

  27. TravisR

    David Cronenberg. He directed Cosmopolis and Map To The Stars with Pattinson.

    Yeah I knew that.

    But Reread your post dude. Sounded like you said Cronenberg directed those two films. 😉

  28. The Hollywood Reporter's Heat Vision newsletter is citing unnamed sources who claim that The Penguin and Catwoman are in the movie:

    The Hollywood Reporter

    Matt Reeves is still tweaking his script, which is rumored to have at least two villains, the Penguin being one of them, according to sources (one person is telling us there will be around half-a-dozen villains!). We’re hearing of another purrfect character making an appearance in the script as well.

    More at the link: https://link.hollywoodreporter.com/view/518d53f9191b2a646dbcdf4da2tef.1ie/de42d27e

  29. I had forgotten because it was announced a while ago, but I just remembered that, ironically enough, Robert Pattinson is also currently working for Warner Bros. in the cast of Christopher Nolan's new movie. That one will be released July 17, 2020. So he will be in another big movie before Batman is released, which will almost certainly put him in front of a wider audience than anything else he has done since the end of Twilight. Hopefully this helps people shed their preconceived notions of him as Edward Cullen.

    Also: I trust Matt Reeves, but even if Batman fans don't yet, they sure as hell should trust Christopher Nolan by now. Nolan thinks Pattinson is a good enough actor for his next movie and wanted to work with him. That says a lot about the quality of his work these days.

  30. dpippel

    I trust Reeves too, but The Penguin and Catwoman, AGAIN. Come on.

    Well, Penguin hasn't been seen on the big screen since Batman Returns. I get the appeal of going back to him because he is one of the few major well-known villains that Christopher Nolan didn't use. Catwoman is more surprising because Nolan did use her, and in his most recent film. I'm sure that Reeves is going to do his own thing, but I also think he would be wise to avoid retreading ground that was covered very recently, so if he is using Catwoman again, it will have to be an extremely different take on the character than Nolan and Anne Hathaway had.

  31. Use only ONE villain. A good writer should be able to concoct a mystifying screenplay with one bad guy causing havoc all over Gotham and Batman doing his level best to figure out the scheme and combat it. I'm convinced that both of those Joel Schumacher films would have been better if there had been fewer villains in the mix, and I thought Batman Returns was weakened by competing villains, too. They are certainly strong enough personalities to not need another colorful villain as a cohort.

  32. Jake Lipson

    Well, Penguin hasn't been seen on the big screen since Batman Returns. I get the appeal of going back to him because he is one of the few major well-known villains that Christopher Nolan didn't use. Catwoman is more surprising because Nolan did use her, and in his most recent film. I'm sure that Reeves is going to do his own thing, but I also think he would be wise to avoid retreading ground that was covered very recently, so if he is using Catwoman again, it will have to be an extremely different take on the character than Nolan and Anne Hathaway had.

    "Gotham" may add to the "those characters again?" issue as well! 🙂

  33. Colin Jacobson

    "Gotham" may add to the "those characters again?" issue as well! 🙂

    Gotham used way too many Batman villains, often at the same time. But above all, they used the Penguin more than any other.

  34. Colin Jacobson

    Gotham

    That's why I said on the big screen. 😉

    You are, of course, completely right that the Penguin was a major part of Gotham. I only watched the pilot and even I could tell that.

    However, the Batman films reach a much more massive audience than Gotham did, and moviegoers haven't seen Penguin in 27 years — 29 years by the time this comes out. So I think he's fair game. But obviously, success depends on how Reeves chooses to interpret the character, and the actor who he casts to bring that to life. We'll see what happens.

  35. Jake Lipson

    That's why I said on the big screen. 😉

    You are, of course, completely right that the Penguin was a major part of Gotham. I only watched the pilot and even I could tell that.

    However, the Batman films reach a much more massive audience than Gotham did, and moviegoers haven't seen Penguin in 27 years — 29 years by the time this comes out. So I think he's fair game. But obviously, success depends on how Reeves chooses to interpret the character, and the actor who he casts to bring that to life. We'll see what happens.

    I wasn't arguing against your points – just saying that for some, the feeling that Penguin is an oft-used character may stem from "Gotham", whether justly or not.

    Honestly, I think the reason this perception exists among many of us comes from our disbelief that "Batman Returns" was 27 years ago! It's just a little stunning to realize how much time has passed.

    Less time elapsed between Burgess Meredith's Penguin and Danny De Vito's than between De Vito and today! 😮

    In my mind – and others, I suspect – "Batman Returns" feels like a "new movie", not one from nearly 3 decades ago!

  36. I am a massive fan of the Great Detective. Can't get enough of the Bat. Personally, I have yet to see anyone cast properly for the role. The Nolan films were great, but Bale is still not how I see Batman. Way too small. Oddly, I thought the fella that donned the cowl in the fan-made short of "Batman v Darth" Vader looked excellent. I would really prefer that they cast an unknown in the role. Let Batman be the star, not the actor.

  37. I don't think Pattinson has much screen presence (unlike Bale). I had forgotten he was in Lost City of Z so obviously left no impression with me (terrible film though). Both Michelle Pfeiffer and Anne Hathaway were memorable Catwomen. Probably a risk but I also would prefer unknowns to be cast in the main roles.

  38. Robert Crawford

    TBH, I never thought Keaton was a good Batman.

    Oh I did, unusual casting that worked for me, but I haven't liked any of the Batman's that followed, & the old Columbia serials were pretty poor. But I'm all superheroed out now, so they can do what they like (I really enjoyed reading the comics back in the late fifties & early sixties).

  39. I know the DCU has had its issues and all, and some of that clearly came from trying too hard to force the connected universe thing too fast, but it just seems weird that WB is kinda keeping that going while at the same time taking what could and should be the most popular cornerstone DC character and seemingly setting him in a separate universe from those films.

  40. Gary Seven

    Yep. Agree completely. Having Mr Mom cast simply because of his eyes was a pretty bad basis for choosing someone to play the iconic character.

    He got the role just for his eyes? Sound a bit far-fetched to me. Anyway, Keaton was a fine Batman and I enjoy rewatching the movie.

  41. Johnny Angell

    He got the role just for his eyes? Sound a bit far-fetched to me. Anyway, Keaton was a fine Batman and I enjoy rewatching the movie.

    Obviously, many people enjoyed him in that role. At first, I tolerated him in that role, but I never thought he was ever good like Bale was as Batman. Differences of opinion is what makes these discussions interesting as I'm sure there are plenty of people that think Bale sucked in that role.:)

  42. Robert Crawford

    Obviously, many people enjoyed him in that role. At first, I tolerated him in that role, but I never thought he was ever good like Bale was as Batman. Differences of opinion is what makes these discussions interesting as I'm sure there are plenty of people that think Bale sucked in that role.:)

    Bale and Keaton are very different Batmen. Bale's version is much darker and very good. Keaton was also excellent.

  43. Johnny Angell

    Bale and Keaton are very different Batmen. Bale's version is much darker and very good. Keaton was also excellent.

    I don't care how many times you say Keaton was excellent, I'm still not going to agree with you so let's just agree to disagree.:)

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