If you’re a Batman fan which, let’s be honest, is the equivalent of me saying “If you’re a citizen of earth,” the wait for updates on The Batman has been excruciating. Matt Reeves got the gig almost two years ago, and he has very little to show for it. No casting news, no official title, no release date, no story details or revelation of who the villain will be. Throw into the mix all of the rumors and uncertainty about his supposed leading man, and it’s enough to make any fan go a little batty.
(Gosh, how spoiled do I sound right now?)
But in September of this year, just three months ago, Reeves finally submitted the first draft of his script. And it was only a matter of time before impressions of that script started making the rounds, as those kinds of things tend to do. It’s been under lock and key, and so the nuts and bolts have remained a secret, while some general impressions have made their way to key people.
In all honesty, it’s hard to put stock in anything retrieved from these means. You never want to think that someone’s being dishonest, but getting your intel from someone who’s the fourth call on a game of Telephone, often means what you’re getting isn’t exactly right.
At times like these, when I get info from someone who’s a little further away than other sources, I often try to lock in on the most basic elements and focus solely on those. Because the details and specifics may change, but if the core idea is very clear, that’s what matters. That’s why I’m not labeling this a “scoop,” or some sort of grand “exclusive.” It’s just…some stuff I heard, from someone I trust, that I’m keeping very vague in order to protect them.
Ok? So let’s get to it.
In the past, when speaking of his approach to The Batman, Reeves has said:
“In all of my films, what I try to do, in an almost Hitchcockian sense, is use the camera and use the storytelling so that you become that character, and you emphasize with that point of view. There’s a chance to do an almost noir-driven, detective version of Batman that is point-of-view driven in a very, very powerful way, that hopefully is going to connect you to what’s going on inside of his head and inside of his heart.“
In short, Reeves has said he wants to make a film that’s very cerebral; Something that would put Batman’s skills as a detective on full display as we try and solve a crime through his well-trained eyes.
And I’m told he delivered just that.
You see, traditionally, Batman has always been depicted as an action hero. In action movies. Because yes, even Christopher Nolan’s contemplative Dark Knight Trilogy was- at its heart- an action movie franchise. But some of what I’m hearing about Reeves’ script is that we’re looking at a complete tonal shift- a shift into another genre.
It sounds to me like early reports that Reeves was seeking inspiration for his script by watching some of David Fincher’s works (The Game, Se7en, Zodiac) were spot on. If you think about a film like Se7en, save for maybe a foot chase that lasts a fraction of its running time, Se7en is a dark, twisty detective story that relies on characters and plot to propel the story, as opposed to spectacle.
If what I’m hearing is true, that excites the heck out of me. And it explains why Reeves is taking his time. Because he’s not just making “the next Batman movie.” He’s making the new Batman movie. A complete paradigm shift from how the character’s traditionally been used on the big screen.
Sure, we’ve gotten glimpses of his detective skills, in films like The Dark Knight and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. But we’ve never seen Batman in a straight-up crime thriller that centers almost exclusively on him working a specific case- akin to plot lines we’ve seen in beloved books like The Long Halloween and Year One.
This, perhaps, explains why he’s in no rush. He wants to create distance between how we’ve traditionally viewed Batman at the movies and what he’s about to become: The World’s Greatest Detective.
I don’t know about you, but I’m in for that.
And it’s a move that makes a ton of sense, too. Noir-driven crime thrillers are generally pretty inexpensive to make because they’re not reliant on spectacle, and- at a time when Walter Hamada was brought in to rein in the studio, which has developed a reputation for badly bloated budgets that interfere with profit margins- you can see why they’d like Reeves’ idea. Back in 1995, Se7en cost only $30M to make. Zodiac, with its all star cast, only cost $65M in 2007. So aside from being a stroke of creative genius, it’s also a savvy business decision to change genre gears for our beloved Caped Crusader.
Lastly, if recent rumors are to be believed, Reeves is about to turn in a revised version of the script. Once that’s in, it’ll be interesting to see what’s changed- if anything.
For now, though, I’ve been given my first real taste of where Reeves is taking things, and it’s made me a believer.