The long road to the new standalone Batman movie The Batman has been one fraught with plenty of hemming and hawing, but as director Matt Reeves prepares to dive head first into the film after he’s done promoting War for the Planet of the Apes, it appears he’ll be giving it something of a fresh start. Ever since Ben Affleck signed on to play Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, there was the hope and expectation that he’d also possibly star in and direct his own Batman movie. Affleck remained coy in the press about that prospect, even as Warner Bros. was somewhat stoking the fire. Finally, Affleck confirmed that the plan was for him to direct a Batman movie, and that he’d been working on a screenplay with DC Films co-head Geoff Johns.
But a new development arose this past January when Affleck announced that he was no longer going to be directing The Batman. This wasn’t the happiest of news, but as Affleck was tending to some personal issues, it seemed to make sense that he was prioritizing what was actually important over adding an insane workload to his roster for the next two years. The search for a director landed on Reeves, who broke out with Cloverfield and has helmed the last two Apes movies to wild critical success. But while appearing on Josh Horowitz’s Happy Sad Confused podcast recently, Reeves revealed that he won’t be working from the script that Affleck and Johns had been putting together and is instead starting over:
“No, it’s a new story. It’s just starting again. I’m excited about it. I think it’s going to be really cool.”
This news was actually first revealed by /Film back in March, when they broke the news that Affleck’s original script was being scrapped in favor of starting over with Reeves at the helm. This isn’t entirely surprising—Reeves is a talented filmmaker with a strong point of view, so one imagines he’s not crazy about inheriting a half-finished take on the story and going from there. Indeed, you’ll recall that negotiations with Reeves broke down at one point, and I do wonder if that was over Warner Bros. wanting him to work from the existing story versus Reeves having the freedom to come up with his own take.
This could have major repercussions in the DCEU. Last year, during filming on Justice League, the news broke that Joe Manganiello was playing Deathstroke as the primary villain in The Batman with Affleck sharing an image of Manganiello in full costume, likely from a cameo in Justice League. Reeves has said his take on the story is more of a noir, and if he’s starting from scratch, it’s possible that Deathstroke is no longer the villain. Which would mean Manganiello’s cameo is almost certainly cut from Justice League.
We’ll likely learn more in the coming weeks. Reeves hasn’t yet really dug into The Batman as he’s been busy overseeing post-production on War for the Planet of the Apes, and he’s at the tail end of the film’s press tour at the moment. Once that’s complete, he’ll likely get with Affleck and start working in earnest on putting The Batman together, but since the film doesn’t yet have a release date, there’s no ticking clock aside from Warner Bros. really wanting this movie ASAP. Perhaps we’ll get an announcement at Comic-Con next week? Stay tuned.