IT’S WHY we can expect Matt Reeves to say no — yet precisely why I hope he’ll say yes.
“I’m always looking for a reason to say no when I’m approached about a big studio tentpole,” Reeves told IndieWire in 2014, on the occasion of his successful big studio tentpole “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”
Reeves, as was reported over the weekend, is in early talks to direct the first solo Batman film of DC Comics’ Extended Universe era, after star Ben Affleck recently announced that he was ceding the director’s chair. And it doesn’t get much more “tentpole” than a massively budgeted piece of an extended universe that grosses billions worldwide.
But Reeves’s quote to IndieWire then continues:
“Because your fear is will you be consumed into the anonymous machine and it will suck out any specificity and point of view that you might hope to express.”
And that is why DC may be just the place for Reeves, who co-created TV’s “Felicity” with childhood friend J.J. Abrams before continuing to grow as the deft director of “Cloverfield,” “Let Me In” and “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” — with this summer’s “War for the Planet of the Apes” in post.
Over at Marvel, Joss Whedon — director of the two “Avengers” films — has spoken of the creative constraints within the cinematic House of Ideas under Kevin Feige. Everything is already so elaborately interconnected at Marvel, nearly a decade after “Iron Man,” that the same movie machinery that supports also can suppress if you’re looking to make your own artistic statement. Everything seems to be building to something.
At Disney, this huge build-out is occurring not just with Marvel, but also with Star Wars, as relaunched by Reeves’s childhood chum. Because the foundational hits have been poured, the architecture is set — and the director of each next piece is already working miles in the sky.
Yet the DCEU still has an opening for creativity precisely because none of its films has quite achieved what “The Force Awakens” or “The Avengers” did. We will soon get “Wonder Woman,” and then “Justice League,” and things could begin to creatively calcify if both those films become defining works.
But at this moment, under such DCEU leaders as Geoff Johns, a Batman solo movie needs a specific and inspired point of view. WB/DC should crave the sort of genre ingenuity that Reeves — this true student of ’70s sci-fi and horror — has so far shown he possesses in spades.
After all, not even another Batman director — Tim Burton — was able to pull off a stellar “Planet of the Apes” film. Before a run at the Batman, Reeves just might pull off two.
And as Reeves said in 2014, about his first “Apes” film: “They were looking for a point of view, and I was very lucky that they embraced mine.”