This is just going to be a quick update on Matt Reeves’ The Batman, since not a ton has changed since the last time I discussed the film.
But let’s try and make sense of the murmurs surrounding the film, and factor in the latest intel, while speculating about what it could all mean, shall we?
- There were rumors that Matt Reeves might bail from The Batman
- John Campea shared a vague tease in a vlog that something awful was on the horizon for the DCU
- Some incorrectly assumed he was referring to the aforementioned departure of Reeves from the franchise
- I investigated and found that the only thing going on with Reeves and DC is that the two sides are trying to figure out how to proceed with the project since it’s been over a year since he got the job and other projects- like Nightwing and Batgirl– are on hold until Reeves reveals what his big Bat Plan is
- I invited Campea onto the El Fanboy Podcast to discuss this matter, since I didn’t appreciate the negative storm he created with his Vague Message of Doom for my fellow DC fans
What’s interesting about Campea is that, while he has neglected to respond to my open invitation, he has quietly gone and confirmed the results of my investigation. Just as my sources told me, and as I reported, there have been recent conversations between Reeves and DC Entertainment over nailing down some sort of timeline, and other Batman Universe projects are being “held up” by the slow pace at which Reeves is working.
So he and I are on the same page about what’s going on over there, and his sources and mine seem to be likeminded as well. (And no, we’re not speaking to the same people. Warner Bros. is a very big company, and I can confirm that his connections over there aren’t the same as mine)
Campea has just offered a brief update on the situation, and I’d like to address it here:
According to him, part of the conversations between Reeves and DC that I told you about centered on the fact that they’d requested a treatment (or possibly a first draft of the script) for his The Batman movie back in October/November of last year. He didn’t comply with that request. And now it’s March.
Similar to what I’ve been saying, this isn’t necessarily leading to hostility behind-the-scenes. While it’d be easy to paint a very tense picture about what the relationship between Reeves and DC Entertainment is right now, it actually seems like the studio isn’t rushing him; They just want to get some idea of where he’s going with things, and when, so that they can continue mapping out the films they plan to release around The Batman.
So this is not another Ben Affleck situation, where the studio is breathing down his neck and trying to rush him back into production on a film that’s not quite ready yet.
At least not yet.
READ ALSO: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Affleck“
But if Campea’s source is correct, it is interesting and notable that they wanted to a treatment from him back around November since that’s when Justice League came out. This raises the possibility, in my mind, that Reeves wanted to see how Justice League would do before he finalized his plan for the Caped Crusader.
Had people ended up loving the film and it became a runaway smash, he might’ve felt more inclined to make sure his movie fell in line with the Batman we saw there. But since that didn’t happen, maybe he’s gone back to the drawing board a bit, realizing “People aren’t in love with this Batman, so let me hook up with my writer(s) and come up with something new.”
This is just speculation, mind you. But it’s just interesting to me that he was asked to turn it in around the time of JL‘s release, but balked at that. To me, it just reads like he was being conservative and didn’t want to hand in a treatment for where he’s going without first seeing where things are with Batman.
Something else that’s notable about Campea’s update is how optimistic he suddenly is. It really makes you wonder if that Vague Message of Doom really was the nothing burger I’ve said it was. Remember, for all my digging- as well as the digging of countless other reporters- no one has been able to find out what this seemingly catastrophic DCU news was going to be. And, at the time, he was claiming it was going to make you seriously doubt whether or not WB/DC has any clue what it’s doing.
Yet here we are now with Campea stating, in his latest video, how optimistic he feels. So which is it? Two weeks ago he was all stupefied doom and gloom, and now he’s all rosy, and his implication of dire news has seemingly evaporated.
Regardless, I’m glad he’s now joined me on the positive end of the spectrum.
While I’ve had pangs of concern over this Reeves situation, I do think this is all going to work out. And I think it’s going to do so in the exact way DC prescribed it would when they discussed the franchise’s future last September. At the time, they made it clear that they were going to loosen up how interconnected their shared universe was going to be, and that they wanted to move back towards being a filmmaker-driven studio.
So this freedom they’re giving Reeves with The Batman, coupled with the fact that several Bat projects seem to hinge on somewhat on what he’s going to do, tells me that Batman is going to move off onto his own island where only he and his fellow Bat-family characters co-exist. This doesn’t mean he’ll be cut off from the rest of his DCU peers entirely, but it just means that they’ll save crossovers for truly monumental events.
Of course, there are little logistical hurdles they’re going to have to figure out- or ignore, like the fact that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice revealed that in this shared world Gotham and Metropolis are neighboring cities only separated by a small body of water. If I were Reeves I would push to have that stricken from the canon, as it’ll make it hard to logically act like Superman isn’t around for Batman’s solo stories when Clark’s city is close enough to see from Wayne Tower.
Not to mention, who ever gets the Superman directing job is going to have to figure out- or ignore, that a bunch of people attended Clark’s open-casket funeral in Smallville at the end of BvS, so how are they going to explain Clark’s sudden return from a highly-publicized death?
So the folks taking the reins on these projects will have their work cut out for them as they carve out the next adventures for Bats and Supes after some questionable creative decisions made in the last few years, but I have faith.
As for Campea’s suggestion that The Batman would be the start of its own Batman Universe within the DCU, that all falls in line with my thinking, too.
Since the Dark Knight and his friends are all basically masked, human vigilantes with no powers, I hope they keep their stories very intimate, very self-contained. Keep them away from the demigods (Superman, Flash, Wonder Woman), and just tell gripping tales that range from street-level tales of gritty crime to psychologically engaging detective stories. And then, when something huge and earth-shattering happens, that’s when you have Bruce jump in the Flying Fox and leave Gotham to offer whatever support he can.
That’s how I’d draw it up.
For now, all we know is Reeves is being given the time to figure out how he’ll draw it up. As of this writing, he’s still set to keep Jeremy Irons and J.K. Simmons around as his Alfred and Gordon, and his pick to replace Affleck is Jake Gyllenhaal.
Whether or not the studio will continue to be as patient as it’s been remains to be seen. And, for a guy who seems keen on making the next Batman film its own thing, you’ve got to wonder how he feels about the fact that there are other shared universe projects hinging on his work- including Nightwing, Gotham City Sirens, Suicide Squad Sequels, Batgirl, and any of the 73 other Margot Robbie Harley Quinn movies. Hopefully he’s into that.
Like I, and even a very astute reader, have been saying:
The future of the DCU relies on individual artists being open to teamwork. Here’s hoping Matt Reeves is all in.