Why Matt Reeves Turned Down Directing Ben Affleck's Batman Movie

The Batman director Matt Reeves reveals why he passed on directing Ben Affleck's "action-driven, James Bond-ian" Bat-movie for a reboot starring Robert Pattinson as a younger Dark Knight. Once attached to star in and direct The Batman movie script he co-wrote with Geoff Johns (TV's The FlashWonder Woman 1984), Affleck ultimately dropped out of stepping behind the camera on the Justice League spinoff pitting his Batman against Deathstroke (Joe Manganiello). What began as a standalone set in the DC Extended Universe was refashioned into a reboot, and by February 2017, Warner Bros. had its new Batman director in Reeves. 

"I read a script that they had that was a totally valid take on the movie. It was very action-driven," Reeves told Esquire Middle East of the script authored by Affleck and Johns. "It was very deeply connected to the DCEU, with other major characters from other movies and other comics popping up. I just knew that when I read it this particular script was not the way I'd want to do it." 

Reeves approached the Aquaman and Wonder Woman studio, telling Warners, "I said look, I think maybe I'm not the person for this. And I explained to them why I love this character. I told them that there have been so many great movies, but if I were to do this, I'd have to make it personal, so that I understood what I was going to do with it, so that I know where to put the camera, so that I know what to tell the actors, so that I know what the story should be."

"This take, I told them, pointing at the script, is a totally valid and exciting take. It is almost James Bond-ian, but it wasn't something that I quite related to," Reeves explained. 

Manganiello would later compare Affleck's unmade Batman movie to David Fincher's The Game, revealing to ComicBook the assassin Deathstroke "systematically dismantles Bruce's life," prompting the loner caped crusader's team-up with Batgirl.

Reeves' start-from-scratch reboot, set in the second year of Bruce Wayne's (Robert Pattinson) costumed crime-fighting career, is described as a detective story and psychological action-thriller grounded in the reality of gritty 1970s cop movies.

The War for the Planet of the Apes filmmaker told Warner Bros. he'd instead "like to get involved and find a way to take the story and make it very, very personal and get to the place I want him to be, to make it a Batman story and give him the arc, and have the story rock him to his core," Reeves said. "It wasn't going to be another origin story, not with Ben already in the character. But that's what I would do." 

Without revisiting and retreading Bruce's origin story, Reeves would tell the "imperfect Batman of his early days" with a vengeful Dark Knight going up against proto-versions of Catwoman (Zoe Kravitz), Riddler (Paul Dano), and Penguin (Colin Farrell).

The Batman is playing only in movie theaters on March 4. The Batman tickets go on sale in February