Matt Reeves on ‘The Batman’ and Robert Pattinson
So much work still lay ahead. Reeves spent a couple of additional months with his co-writer, Peter Craig (“The Town”), mapping out the interwoven crime drama, corruption scandals and city history in the movie’s middle section. He populated his sprawling Gotham with fresh versions of allies like Alfred (Serkis) and Gordon (Jeffrey Wright), adversaries like the Penguin (Colin Farrell) and the Riddler (Paul Dano), and the hero’s cat-burgling love interest, Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz).
All the while, Reeves said, he was pushing himself to find new ground that hadn’t been covered in the Batman films that still dominate the pop-cultural consciousness, particularly Burton’s and Nolan’s movies.
He worried that at any moment Warner Bros. might sour on his film, which is not connected to the broader continuity established in other DC movies like “Aquaman,” “Wonder Woman” or the forthcoming “The Flash” (which will feature Affleck and Michael Keaton reprising their Batman roles).
“There’s an imperative if you know that Movie 6 is coming and you’re Movie 5,” Reeves said. “They could be like, ‘Look, we believe in this take, but this doesn’t fit our overall plan,’ and they could pull the plug.” (Emmerich said that Reeves always had the full backing of the studio.)
Then in March 2020, two months into production and with about 25 percent of the movie completed, the pandemic struck. Andrew Jack, the film’s dialect coach, died from Covid and other crew members became sick. Reeves was preparing to travel from London to Liverpool for a sequence involving 600 extras when production was shut down.
“It was a weird moment — everyone was like, what’s going on? And nobody knew the weight of it,” Reeves recalled. When filming resumed that fall, he said, “we had to be nimble.” Though Reeves said that no parts of the movie had been substantially reconceived for pandemic-era production, digital effects did help fill some gaps: “There are places where we absolutely have CG crowds.”