Director Matt Reeves Assures Us His Dark Cut of The Batman Is the Only Cut

Director Matt Reeves Assures Us His Dark Cut of The Batman Is the Only Cut
Robert Pattinson as Batman and Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle. Image: Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Comics

Every time a new Batman movie comes out the question that comes up is – why? This is far from the first time the Dark Knight has made his way to the big screen, but there’s more than one reason Matt Reeves’ The Batman is unlike anything audiences have seen before.

Gizmodo Australia spoke to The Batman director Matt Reeves in a roundtable interview to find out why this iteration of the character hits different.

Not the hero we deserve, but the one we need

The Batman
Photo Credit: Jonathan Olley/DC Comics

One of the immediately refreshing things about Matt Reeves’ version of The Batman is its omittance of the character’s origin story. Reeves told Gizmodo Australia he was not interested in walking the well-trodden path of the Wayne family murder.

“I did not want to do an origin story, because that had been done so many times,” he said. “But I thought, well, maybe there’s something about a Year Two Batman, where he’s still trying to figure out how to be Batman.”

The issue at the time was that Ben Affleck was still firmly in the cowl as the DC Extended Universe’s Batman. Affleck had helped to write the script for what would be his solo Batman adventure and at one point was even directing the film.

When Affleck stepped away from directing, the studio looked for other options, but Reeves wasn’t interested in the tangled web of the DCEU.

“When I first came in, the script that they presented me was one that I didn’t necessarily see myself directing,” Reeves said. “I said I would want to do something that really doesn’t connect to the extended universe and really focuses on the Bat-verse.”

“I really wanted to make sure that Batman would be at the centre of this.”

To Reeves’ surprise, the studio loved his pitch and was prepared to wait for his version of the film.

Time went by. Reeves returned to work on War of the Planet of the Apes. Affleck re-evaluated and stepped away from the film. Suddenly, a whole world of possibilities to reinvent the story even further opened up for Reeves.

“You’re trying to take all of these iconic, beloved characters, but you’re trying to reinvent them and bring new specificity and life to them. If you’re going to take on a Batman movie, the idea is that you’re going to find a take on it that has something fresh to it and something new to say,” Reeves said.

“I wanted a version where two years in, [Batman] still doesn’t have it down. He’s still figuring out what it’s going to take to be Batman. I wanted to take him and put him through this detective story, that was going to unexpectedly become very personal, and really shake him to his core.”

The man behind the mask

The Batman Robert Pattinson
Photo Credit: Jonathan Olley/DC Comics

To dive into this much darker and more emotional version of the character, The Batman needed a lead that could carry the weight.

Enter Robert Pattinson, a surprising choice due to his history as a teen heartthrob in Twilight, but undoubtedly the right choice for Reeves.

“Rob was an obvious choice for me,” Reeves said.

The Batman director said that Pattinson’s performance in the film Good Time was what won him over.

“[He had this] propulsive obsessive desperation. He’s very kinetic and intense. But also in his eyes, you sense this vulnerability,” Reeves explained. “It was that mix of somebody with a tremendous, almost dangerous drive, and then being able to see those moments of vulnerability.”

Reeves previously said his iteration of Bruce Wayne was inspired by Kurt Cobain, a connection that is made even clearer by the use of a moody cover of Nirvana’s “Something in the Way” in the film’s marketing.

When fans finally see Pattinson (or Battinson as he is now officially named) on screen it will not be the philanthropic playboy Bruce Wayne that they’re accustomed to.

“He’s had a bit of a breakdown,” Pattinson told GQ magazine earlier in the year. “This thing he’s doing, it’s not even working. Like, it’s two years into it, and the crime has gotten worse since Bruce started being Batman.”

Riddle me this

the batman riddler paul dano
Photo Credit: Jonathan Olley/DC Comics

The Batman presents a similarly unique version of the Riddler to square up against its gritty Dark Knight.

Instead of the overly flamboyant, narcissistic villain of the comics, The Batman’s Riddler is heavily inspired by the Zodiac killer, hiding behind a mask and leaving a bloody trail of cryptic clues all over Gotham.

It was another inspired piece of casting from Reeves that put Paul Dano in the Riddler’s shoes. The director said that he wrote the film with both Pattinson and Dano in mind for their respective roles and was then lucky enough for them both to sign on to the film.

Reeves said that both he and Dano shared a similar work ethic and both preferred to do a lot of preparation and a lot of takes during filming.

“On the day, you try to be open to something that was unexpected,” Reeves said. “That’s when you catch lightning in a bottle.”

The Riddler, as his name would suggest, is well known for his intelligence and mastery of puzzles. This left Reeves in a bit of a spot because now he would have to become a mastermind himself and create riddles that could challenge the world’s greatest detective.

Reeves admitted that the process of developing the riddles was “time consuming and difficult”. The director “went on a search” to find the direction of the puzzles for the film, turning to things like books of riddles for inspiration.

“There were certain ones that would resonate with me. I would just kind of put them aside on a card or write them down,” Reeves reflected. “You kind of gather all this stuff, and then you start looking for the connections.”

When it came to whittling down the riddles that would be used in the film, Reeves said it was all about “collecting the things that seemed to resonate around the tone of what it was we were after.”

The Batman’s final cut

The Batman 2022 Matt Reeves
Photo Credit: Jonathan Olley/DC Comics

With The Batman’s focus on serial killers and gritty violence, it seemed to be edging into horror territory, with some even expecting the film to be given a hard rating.

It’s no secret that Hollywood studios have interfered with directors’ visions of superhero movies in the past. With the film moving into such dark territory, would Warner Bros. allow this version of The Batman to go to the screen untouched?

Reeves had nothing but good things to say about working with Warner Bros., even describing it as the “dream experience”.

“There was never a point where they pushed back about any of it. They were very excited about the take, they loved the script, and they supported me and the movie in every way possible,” Reeves told Gizmodo Australia.

“I know that’s not the story you usually hear when you hear about big blockbusters, and you know, studio filmmaking, but it was certainly the case for me that this is a film that they embraced.”

There’s also no secretive R-rated ‘Matt Reeves’ cut of The Batman that many were speculating existed.

“This cut of the movie is the cut. This is the movie as I want the world to see it, there is no other version of it,” Reeves confirmed.

The Bat-verse

The Batman
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Comics

Here we have another Batman movie, one that has established itself as its own version of the character and as a story worth telling. Now the question becomes will it be the only one worth telling?

A trilogy of Battinson films are said to be part of the plan, but nothing has been confirmed. Even if they never happen, Reeves said The Batman “stands on its own”.

“You can’t really begin this kind of thing as if you’re just doing chapter one, because you don’t really know,” he said.

But that doesn’t mean the director doesn’t already have ideas for the future of his Batman.

“I have a lot of thoughts about where I think this goes,” Reeves teased.

Already in development are a slew of spin-offs from The Batman. Two TV series, one focusing on the GCPD and the other on Colin Farrell’s the Penguin (which Reeves says he is “really excited” about), are in development for HBO Max.

There’s a lot to look forward to in Matt Reeves’ The Batman universe, that’s for sure. But with no release dates for any sequels set, fans will have to make do with watching The Batman as many times as possible when it finally releases on March 3.