Matt Reeves spoke on his vision for the Caped Crusader and Gotham City, now that he has free time to do so, and discussed how he pitched the movie.
Talking with The Nerdist, Reeves explained he pitched the Batman the way he does all his movies, including most notably Let Me In and his Planet of the Apes series. He tries to find a “humanist” angle.
“I’m going to pitch the version of Batman that I would do, which is going to have a humanist bent,” said Reeves. “And who knows if they’ll have any interest?”
It’s unclear what Reeves means here about the film having a humanist bent. The word “humanist” has multiple definitions.
According to the American Humanist Association, “Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism or other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good.” Their tagline is “Good without A God.”
However, there is also Renaissance humanism, which is the study of classical antiquity and was a program to revive the cultural legacy of classical antiquity. It was predominantly centered in Italy in cities such as Florence, Naples, and Rome. This humanism included members such as Pope Pius II, Sixtus IV, and Leo X and had a focus on understanding and translating early Christian texts.
Karl Marx also described communism as “naturalized humanism.” He stated, “Humanism is the denial of God and the total affirmation of man. Humanism is nothing else but Marxism. Communism is naturalized humanism.”
Reeves added he would’ve taken it in stride if Warner Bros. turned him down. “If they don’t, then I won’t do it. And that’ll be okay,” the director said. “I was really lucky that they said yes.”
He disclosed it is the emotion of a story that give him the drive to make something. All his technical circuits start firing at that point. He added he’d “be lost” otherwise:
“It’s not even like that’s an approach that I take, like it’s some kind of idea of, ‘Wouldn’t it be great?’ It’s sort of the only thing that allows me to understand how to do it. I can only understand where the camera goes and how to talk about the story, how to write the story, how to talk to the actors, if I understand emotionally what it is I have to do. Otherwise I’d be lost.”
As for the characters, Reeves detailed what drew him to explore the brokenness of Bruce Wayne. Wanting to avoid “an origin tale,” Reeves was intrigued by the struggles that form Bruce as well his unconscious “shadow self.”
“I wanted to do not an origin tale, but a tale that would still acknowledge his origins, in that it formed who he is. Like this guy, he’s majorly struggling, and this is how he’s trying to rise above that struggle. But that doesn’t mean that he even fully understands, you know. It’s that whole idea of the shadow self and what’s driving you, and how much of that you can incorporate, and how much of it you’re doing that you’re unaware of.”
Reeves then tied back to his interest in emotions and went into how he is going to use that to say something about corruption, a topic he thinks is more relevant than ever:
“There’s something in there that feels very psychological, very emotional, and it felt like there was a way of exploring that along with the corruption in this place, Gotham. That feels very current. I think it always does. There’s almost no time when you can’t do a story about corruption. But today, it still seems incredibly resonant and maybe, from my perspective, maybe more so than maybe at other time.”
Production on The Batman shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was meant for a June 2021 release but might not make it if quarantines continue any longer. No word has come from Warner Bros. so far about the film getting pushed back again.
Reeves also has a new series, Tales From the Loop, streaming on Amazon.