Making a good movie can buy you a lot of clout in Hollywood. Just ask director Matt Reeves, who’s been given total carte blanche for The Batman, DC’s upcoming superhero standalone starring Ben Affleck as the Caped Crusader.
Reeves’ upcoming War for the Planet of The Apes has been garnering the kind of reviews reserved for high-minded Oscar fare. That makes Reeves the rarest of commodities; a director who can make popcorn movies that are, you know, actually good. And considering how poorly received most of the DCU films have been (except you Wonder Woman, we love you), Warner Bros. can’t afford to gamble on a director with a spotty track record.
Unfortunately that means you, Ben Affleck. While Affleck makes a fine Batman, some fans were skeptical about him as both the writer and director of the first solo Batman movie since Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. Reeves coming in as director eased some of that concern, and now we’ve learned that Affleck’s script has been canned, too.
While appearing on MTV’s Happy Sad Confused podcast, Reeves confirmed that he won’t be working from the script that was written by Affleck, Chris Terrio and DC’s Geoff Johns. “No, it’s a new story. It’s just starting again,” Reeves said “I’m excited about it. I think it’s going to be really cool.”
That means Reeves will be allowed to fully realize the noir vision of which he spoke last month. It also means that Joe Manganiello—who had signed on to be in Affleck’s version—is likely out as Deathstroke.
So who could step in as a potential villain? One rumor that’s been floating around is the return of Oswald Cobblepot, better known as The Penguin. Josh Gad has not been shy about dropping hints that he may be up for the role, though he insists that he’s just “having some fun” with the fans. The Joker likely isn’t an option either; Jared Leto’s questionable performance in Suicide Squad has probably led to some major character fatigue among audiences.
Reeves will have plenty of room to play around and already has a grand vision planned in his head. “I have ideas about an arc, but really, the important thing is just to start,” he said last month. “You know, you have to start with a story that begins something.”
The Batman isn’t expected in theaters until Christmas 2019, but something tells us it’ll be well worth the wait.