After weeks of uncertainty and lots of back and forth, studio Warner Bros. has finally settled on a replacement director for "The Batman," with previous top choice candidate Matt Reeves ("Dawn of the Planet of the Apes") officially back on board for the project.
Reeves replaces star Ben Affleck, who was initially set to helm and co-write the standalone flick in addition to headlining, but abruptly left the director's chair back in January. Reeves was actually in talks with Warner Bros. last week to take the job before negotiations broke down, but it seems both parties were finally able to work out their differences. In addition to directing, Reeves will also produce the feature.
In a glowing statement, Toby Emmerich, president and chief content officer of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, said the studio was "thrilled" to have Reeves join the project, touting Batman as "the crown jewel of our DC slate."
"Matt's deep roots in genre films and his evolution into an emotional world-building director make him the perfect filmmaker to guide the Dark Knight through this next journey," Emmerich's statement added.
In his own statement, Reeves discussed his love of the hero, and his desire to put his own stamp on the character's mythology.
"I have loved the Batman story since I was a child. He is such an iconic and compelling character, and one that resonates with me deeply," Reeves's statement said. "I am incredibly honored and excited to be working with Warner Bros. to bring an epic and emotional new take on the Caped Crusader to the big screen."
As Collider points out, while the director question is now settled, there are still plenty of rumors swirling around about the state of this movie, particularly when it comes to Affleck's role in it. There has been speculation for weeks that the actor is prepared to hang up his cowl and walk away from the franchise entirely, and with his name noticeably absent from Warner Bros.'s press release (not to mention his fatigue at answering incessant questions about the hero), it certainly appears as if the studio is preparing for a clean break from Batfleck.
Collider editor Steven Weintraub also notes that Reeves will likely want to do a complete rewrite of "The Batman"'s script, perhaps preparing to accommodate a new star/new vision for the character should Affleck's theoretical exit become a reality. This is all speculation, of course, but it's worth paying attention to, especially since Affleck had previously publicly flip-flopped on the directing decision before dropping out of that role. He and Warner Bros. may just be working on an appropriate exit strategy at this point before announcing an official break. Stay tuned.