After a pretty rocky period for the first solo Batman movie in Warner Bros.' DC Extended Universe, the studio has seemingly got things back on track in a big way. After a "will he, won't he" negotiation process, director Matt Reeves officially signed on to direct The Batman last week. At one point, negotiations totally broke down and it looked like Warner Bros. wasn't going to be able to get the Cloverfield and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes filmmaker to sign on the dotted line, but they ultimately got the deal done. So what changed? Well, according to a new report, Warner Bros. gave Matt Reeves a ton of creative control.
Slash Report recently published a pretty lengthy piece on the DCEU's struggles with directors. Not only did Ben Affleck exit the director's chair for The Batman, which was reportedly because he felt he couldn't act and direct to his full abilities, but The Flash movie has lost several directors and Michelle MacLaren bailed on directing Wonder Woman over "creative differences." The report couldn't name any sources. They could only say that the information came from "deeply-embedded sources." These sources claim that there is a shift in philosophy taking place in regards to how the studio handles their directors and that was a point of contention in getting Matt Reeves to direct. He wanted creative control and they initially wouldn't give it to him. So he walked. Ultimately, Warner Bros. knew they needed to avoid another bad situation, so they caved. Here is what the unnamed source had to say about it.
"They went back to Reeves, told him he had the final say on all things The Batman, and that's why he came back and officially signed on. "
There is a lot to dig into with this, but first and foremost, it seems like Matt Reeves is going to make the movie he wants to make. End of story. Surely Ben Affleck is going to be a big influence and Geoff Johns, who heads up the DCEU for Warner Bros., will be involved, but Reeves has "final say," which is a big deal. The report claims that most of the problems stem from Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Zack Snyder was given a ton of creative control and that movie was going to shape the rest of the DCEU for years to come. Unfortunately, audiences didn't respond to the material on a universal level and critics thrashed the movie. This led to interference on David Ayer's Suicide Squad and they were reportedly going to be doing the same with James Wan on Aquaman. That was what led to reports that he was maybe going to leave as well, but that was ultimately resolved when Warner Bros. caved and gave him creative control as well.
"Wan saw how Warner Bros. had suddenly put their hands all over Snyder's Batman v Superman and Ayer's Suicide Squad, and he threatened to leave unless they left him alone to make Aquaman as he saw fit. They agreed. He stayed."
That is apparently where a lot of these issues with directors and the DCEU stems from, at least according to the unnamed sources in this report. The larger situation is still possibly a bit more complicated, but at least when it comes to The Batman and Aquaman, a couple of outstanding filmmakers are going to get to make the movies they want to make. And that is a very good thing. Another nice bit that was included in his report is that Reeves wants to do some worldbuilding in The Batman, which is something he has proved he can do in a big way with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and presumably the upcoming War for the Planet of the Apes.
Right now it is unclear if Matt Reeves is going to use the current script for The Batman, which was written by Ben Affleck and Geoff Johns, with the most recent draft from Chris Terrio. Since he has "final say" he could change things up, should he desire. Joe Manganiello has been cast to play the villain Deathstroke, with J.K. Simmons playing commissioner Gordon and Jeremy Irons set to return as Alfred. There is also no release date set for The Batman, but it is expected to start shooting this year. We will be sure to keep you up to date as more information becomes available.