We already know that Matt Reeves is the new director of the next solo Batman movie, which has tentatively been titled The Batman. As you may also know, there was a lot of drama involved with this film. Between Affleck confirming he was directing, then announcing he won’t be a few weeks later, to Reeves then negotiating to be director, dropping out of negotiations with Warner Bros., then signing on a few days later.
And that’s just the drama surrounding one movie! Don’t even get me started on the rest of the DCEU.
There was never a specific reason mentioned as to why Reeves decided to walk at first, but it has come to light that creative control over the film might have had something to do with it. And that’s a pretty huge deal. Let me explain.
Historically, Warner Bros. is a very director-friendly studio, allowing creative minds to come in and make the films that they envision. And, historically, it has been a very successful formula for them. Allowing directors such as Christopher Nolan and Ben Affleck to create films such as The Dark Knight Trilogy, Argo, Inception, and The Town.
In an attempt to catch up with Marvel and their highly successful cinematic universe, WB decided to change this policy up a little. Sitting on their own wealth of amazing characters, they decided they needed their own Kevin Feige (President of Marvel Studios) to oversee the DC films, and that person was Zack Snyder.
Snyder has been a Warner Bros. director since his successful 300 hit theaters in 2006, and has gone on to make other comic book films such as Watchmen and the DCEU’s Man of Steel. Snyder was meant to be the architect behind everything happening in the DC film universe. However, when Snyder’s vision of Batman v Superman wasn’t the masterpiece many were expecting, the studio came in to cut the film to their own specifications.
Then when BvS failed to light up the box office or blow fans away as expected, they stepped in again to “course correct” with Suicide Squad. Thinking that audiences only wanted something that was more lighthearted and fun, they hired the company who edited the “Ballroom Blitz” trailer to cut the entire film.
Suddenly, this director-friendly studio was trying to control the process of how their DC films were being made, instead of trusting their directors. WB seems to be slowly getting the hint, however. Aquaman director James Wan was able to get creative control over everything Aquaman, allowing him to make the Aquaman film he wants. The same can now be said with Reeves and the Batman film franchise, and is allegedly why he ended negotiations in the first place. WB wanted him to make their film, not his film. For better, Reeves won out in the end.
As someone who has only made one film in his life (a high school film festival movie), I’m not going to say that there is a right way and a wrong way to making superhero films. Obviously, Marvel has been successful in their shared universe approach with one man up top (Kevin Feige) telling the filmmakers how to fit their film into the greater universe. Let us not forget that Marvel hasn’t been without their fair share of drama, with Thor and Ant Man receiving multiple directors, and even Joss Whedon bowing out after his experiences with Age of Ultron. But, overall they have clearly found a formula that works for them.
But, that Feige-like person is missing with WB. They tried it with Zack Snyder and it lead to two films that fell short of expectations. They tried bringing in Geoff Johns for creative consultation, and we will see how that plays out this year with Wonder Woman and Justice League.
WB seems to be heading in the right direction. Giving James Wan and Matt Reeves the ability to tell the story that they want will go a long way, both in creating great films and to keep the peace in the DCEU. If they continue to interfere and change their friendly filmmaker approach, we’ll get more drama, like Rick Famuyiwa leaving The Flash over “creative differences.”
What say you? Is giving Matt Reeves creative control over the Batman side of the DCEU a good move? Or should the studio have more of an umbrella approach like Marvel? Let us know!