The Batman standalone movie seems to be having trouble finding a director. Warner Bros wants to fast-track the project, after a positive response from the audience on Ben Affleck’s performance as Batman. However, Affleck, who at one point confirmed himself that he would direct, wanted more time to focus on the script. Last month Affleck dropped out, but remained onboard as co-writer, executive producer, and star. Then came Matt Reeves, whose best known for directing Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Reeves briefly entered negotiations to sign on for The Batman before exiting for unknown reasons, although insiders have speculated it was to focus more on the post-production for his upcoming third Apes film.
What we know so far about The Batman (working title) is there is in fact a completed script, written by Affleck and Geoff Johns (DC Rebirth), with a rewrite by Chris Terrio (Argo). The last we’ve heard about an official cast for the film included Jeremy Irons (as Alfred), J.K. Simmons (as Commissioner Gordon), and Joe Manganiello (as Deathstroke). Beyond that much is unknown, including an official release date, a production start date, filming locations, and of course who’s directing.
Now this is going to sound about as crazy as the time Wolverine first tried convincing Professor X that he was sent from the future, by Professor X himself, in X-Men: Days of Future Past, but bear with me. Warner Bros is searching for a director, so they can fast-track The Batman to make the rumored (and far-fetched) 2018 release. Affleck, not feeling confident enough with the current script, drops out of directing. Reeves comes in, but is currently busy to the point where he can’t focus on The Batman, so he exits. Should Reeves later re-enter talks to direct (as reported), he would likely want input on the current script, meaning another rewrite, or polish of the script at the very least. However, like I said, Warner Bros. is rushing and doesn’t have time for that. Should Reeves ultimately decline the offer, the studio has other replacement directors in mind, though none of whom I would be as confident in as I would an Affleck, Reeves, or this next person. So assuming Warner Bros. wants a director now, who will work with the current script (call it a Yes Man if you want), I’ve come to the conclusion that Zack Snyder would be the safest choice, for several reasons.
Snyder has previously worked with Affleck, so the two already have a relationship from working on set together. The support team Snyder would have on this project (Affleck, Terrio, Johns), and the currently assembled cast is more than enough to produce a great Batman standalone movie. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is undoubtedly a divisive film, but in Snyder’s defense, he was given an impossible task. Now I love the Ultimate Edition of BvS, but it pales in comparison to his first DCEU film, Man of Steel. In BvS, Snyder, as a director, was tasked with the following:
- Re-introducing Batman just four years after the Nolan/Bale trilogy.
- Continuing the character development of Superman.
- Building up and executing an iconic fight between the two characters.
- Introducing Wonder Woman and other members of the Justice League.
- Further plant the seeds for the future DC extended universe.
For the most part, I think he did an excellent job. More importantly for argument’s sake, every scene featuring Bruce Wayne/Batman was nothing short of great. That warehouse fight scene still gives me the chills, while also getting me pumped for more. Sure, you can give all the credit to Affleck, who reportedly rewrote some of the scenes onset, but last I heard Snyder didn’t write the script. The combination of Snyder’s vision for an older, weary, brawny Batman, and Affleck’s writing and performance proved to be successful. And for the record, I have no problem with seeing Batman kill in BvS, only to later rediscover himself and his faith in humanity.
Another argument for Snyder being the safest choice for The Batman, again considering the circumstances surrounding it, is another previously Snyder-directed film, Watchmen. In that film, who was the one character which critics praised the most? That answer is Walter Kovacs aka Rorschach (played by Jackie Earle Haley). Watchmen comic book writer Alan Moore refers to Rorshach as “the real life Batman.” Any comic book nerd can certainly point out a number of differences between the two characters, but they also share a few similarities, like their unhealthy desire for justice, their violent crime fighting styles, and their distrust for fellow superheroes. The similarities help explain why I see the potential for a Batman standalone movie every time I revisit the scenes in Watchmen of Rorschach investigating, kicking ass in prison (imagine Snyder’s Arkham Asylum), and revisiting his troublesome past.
In conclusion, Snyder is a proven, knowledgeable director for comic book movies, particularly DC. His previous work with Affleck, and within this DCEU, give him an advantage over the other replacement directors. His style and tone fit a Batman standalone movie. The previously mentioned best parts in BvS and Watchmen are examples of what he brings to the table. The support team in Affleck, Johns, and Terrio would likely make the script for The Batman the best that Snyder has ever worked off. Considering the circumstances surrounding the project, if Reeves exits for good and Warner Bros. wants to move fast on production, Zack Snyder would be the safest choice to direct The Batman.