This year hasn’t been nice to The Batman, the first solo Bat-outing that is expected to take place in the still-fledgling DC Extended Universe. After months of rumors, Ben Affleck dropped out as the writer and director, with a new screenplay reportedly being rushed into development and, of course, the search for a new helmsman being conducted post-haste since Warner Bros. still wants the film to come out as quickly as possible.
Word immediately began to spread that Matt Reeves was on the short list for a directorial replacement, and now it has been made official – well, almost.
Variety is reporting that Reeves has agreed to direct The Batman, but no contract between the filmmaker and Warner Bros. has been signed as of yet.
Reeves, of course, is fast becoming something of a household name, and not just because of all the furious rumors that have been flying all over the internet these past few weeks; ever since he landed on most audiences’ radars with 2008’s Cloverfield (written by Daredevil co-creator Drew Goodard and executive produced by Star Wars: The Force Awakens’s J.J. Abrams), he’s become something of a maverick at taking over pre-existent, multi-billion dollar franchises, as has been evidenced by the current Planet of the Apes series (which he took over with the second installment, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and which he will continue with this summer’s War for the Planet of the Apes). It makes sense why the studio would eye him.
With questions of the director’s suitability out of the way, that just leaves the little areas of narrative and production. Let’s tackle the latter first: Variety notes that Matt Reeves is still currently in post-production with Apes, but that it will be ending soon (the film drops on July 14), allowing him to pick up prep work on The Batman in the very near future. This could mean that shooting might still begin sometime this year – the originally-targeted start date of May was already out the window, thanks to Affleck’s crowded calendar – which means that 2018 could still be a realistic timeframe for release.
But all this presupposes that the new draft of the screenplay can be finished to everyone’s satisfaction, and fast. Ben Affleck is still purported to have a “significant role” in the movie’s execution, from the story on down to its direction, so he’ll need to sign off, as well as DC Films head Geoff Johns and, now, Reeves. And while it’s hard to imagine the rewrite going too far afield from what’s already been laid down, given that Joe Manganiello has already been cast as Deathstroke and all, that’s still a lot of voices that need to be heard and minds that need to be in agreement. Given that Aquaman is currently scheduled to come out on October 5, 2018, and Shazam on April 5, 2019, that doesn’t leave very much time for all the Bat-stars to get in alignment.