Two-time Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali was reportedly The Batman director Matt Reeves' "first choice" for the role of Commissioner Jim Gordon, according to scooper Jeff Sneider, who says Ali's casting in the lead role of Marvel Studios' Blade reboot "probably took that off the table."
"Now that he's got his own Marvel movie, I don't know that he's looking to do yet another comic book movie," Sneider says in the latest episode of The Sneider Cut podcast. "But I'm pretty sure he was Matt Reeves' first choice for Commissioner Gordon in The Batman."
According to Sneider, Ali met with Reeves for the role.
The role of Gordon was most recently filled by J.K. Simmons in the Ben Affleck-led Justice League, part of the shared DC Extended Universe. Reeves looking at Ali for the role supports past reports The Batman, centered around Robert Pattinson's younger caped crusader, isn't a prequel but is instead set outside the DCEU and is wholly unconnected to Affleck's iteration.
"When they approached me, what they said was, 'Look, it's a standalone. This isn't part of the Extended Universe,'" Reeves said in a July 2017 interview.
Reeves later clarified those comments in August 2017, writing on Twitter, "Just to be clear: Of COURSE Batman will be part of the D.C. Universe. Batman will be BATMAN..."
"In my comments from a while back about not being part of the DCEU, I was talking about The Batman being a story specifically about Batman," Reeves explained in subsequent tweets. "Not about the others in the Universe. That it wouldn't be filled with cameos servicing other stories -- that it would be a BATMAN story."
Reeves at the time had not yet completed work on the script and Affleck, whose future involvement in the DCEU was long up in the air, wouldn't officially leave the role until early 2019. It remains unclear if The Batman is tethered to the DCEU, where Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice established a weary Batman as a more than 20-year crime-fighting veteran.
Earlier this year, Reeves was firm on his stance The Batman doesn't need to connect to other Warner Bros. DC Comics productions.
"Aquaman is going to be very different from the Todd Phillips Joker movie, and that's going to be different from Shazam and [Birds of Prey]. Warners believes they don't have to try to develop a giant slate that has to have all the plans for how it's going to connect," Reeves told THR in January. "What they need to try and do is make good movies with these characters."
The Batman opens June 25, 2021.