Ben Affleck’s tenure as the Batman may be over or ending, but maybe it’ll never end in the mind of wishful-thinking fans. Affleck is set to make his final appearance as Batman in “The Flash,” which will set up Michael Keaton’s Batman as the new version of the character in the DCEU going forward. But fans love an all-consuming ‘what if,’ similar to the #Snydercut fans hoping one day they’ll get a ‘Justice League 2’ and ‘3.’ Inadvertently sparking more curiosity on what will surely be a legendary ‘what if’ movie is filmmaker Matt Reeves, who recently discussed Affleck’s unmade version of “The Batman.”
In a conversation with Jeff Goldsmith and his Q&A podcast, Reeves explained the genesis of his own “The Batman” film starring Robert Pattinson, which came out earlier this year. While detailing how he eventually came on board the project, Reeves walked the podcaster through the origins of the film, including when he was going to potentially direct Affleck’s version of the script. In doing so, he revealed some details and aspects of the intended movie.
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“The movie was originally going to be directed by Ben Affleck, and the script they sent me had been written by Ben but rewritten by another very talented writer, and when I read it, I was like, ‘Oh, I get it,’” Reeves explained. “It was a standalone Batman film that was centered on Ben’s version of the character, but it was more action-driven than what I felt I could do. I didn’t connect to the movie—in terms of me as a filmmaker. It was very James Bond-ian; it was filled with a lot of set pieces. It could have been a very exciting movie for someone else to do, but it wasn’t for me to do.”
“Interestingly, I think Ben wasn’t so sure he wanted to it because he ultimately stepped away from doing Batman all together,” he added. “Probably because of the choices in his life at that time and what he wanted to do.”
Reeves explained that he politely passed on the script and suggested he probably wasn’t the right filmmaker for the job because if he were to direct a Batman movie, he wanted to do something totally different, a second-year movie about Batman learning who he is with a younger actor. Surprisingly, Warner Bros. agreed, and the rest is history.
Back in 2019, cinematographer Robert Richardson, who was initially set to work on the unmade movie, had previously teased to the Happy Sad Confused podcast the pic would have banked on the iconic Arkham Asslym as a setting.
“He was going into the more insanity aspects…He was entering more into the Arkham; he’s going into where everyone was bad,” Richardson said at the time.
Arkham Asylum is something Reeves gently leaned into with his ‘Batman’ too, as Irish actor Barry Keoghan briefly appeared as the Joker, already captured and in the facility. Actor Joe Manganiello was once cast as Slade Wilson, aka Deathstroke, and he confirmed plans for his DC villain to be part of the solo pic back in 2020.
“It was a really dark story in which Deathstroke was like a shark or a horror movie villain that was dismantling Bruce’s life from the inside out,” the actor said. “It was this systemic thing: He killed everyone close to Bruce and destroyed his life to try and make him suffer because he felt that Bruce was responsible for something that happened to him.”
We’ll likely never see Affleck’s movie at this point, but it’s certainly fun for fans to dream about. Reeves is attached for a sequel to “The Batman” that is already in the early development stages alongside two HBO Max spinoff series. One is focused on Colin Farrell’s breakout Penguin character (the villain’s stellar makeup feels like a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination), and the other explores, not-so-coincidentally enough, the world of Arkham Asylum. Listen to the entire conversation below.