As The Batman gets ever closer to release, some of the conversation surrounding Matt Reeves’ upcoming film is what the movie almost ended up being. Namely, that it was originally meant to star and be directed by Ben Affleck, the Dark Knight of the DCEU prior to Robert Pattinson’s casting.
In an interview with Esquire Middle East, Reeves spoke about how he was initially approached by Warner Bros. to direct Affleck’s version of the film when the actor could no longer commit to directorial duties. Seeing the script, Reeves called it “totally valid” and “almost James Bond-ian,” with deep connections to the DCEU and characters from other films and comics making an appearance. (At least one of them we know would’ve ended up being Joe Mangianello’s Deathstroke.) Reeves enjoyed the script, but he also knew that it wasn’t the take on the character that he wanted to make.
Fully prepared to turn Warner Bros. down, Reeves later explained how he wanted his approach to the character to be something “personal.” He described his pitch to WB, one that he’d had cooking in his head for a long time, as making the film a story about Batman. “I’d like to find a way to have the story rock him to his core. It wasn’t going to be another origin story, not with Ben already in the character.” Reeves admitted to also being surprised at WB’s willingness to work with him; at the time, he was working on the third Planet of the Apes film and wouldn’t even divulge what his story would actually be about. But WB really wanted to work with him and let him finish his obligations.
By the time Reeves was ready for The Batman, things hit a snafu in the form of Affleck’s decision to depart DC films entirely to focus on becoming sober. From that point, the rest is history: Pattinson is now in the cowl; and Affleck has now moved on to other projects while also suiting up One Last Time for The Flash. Everything seems to have worked out for all involved in the long run, but I won’t lie, it would’ve been interesting to see what a “James Bond” Batman movie would’ve been. Maybe they could’ve found a way to make running in front of the Batsignal look as epic as Bond’s gun barrel intros.