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Matt Reeves On Why He Chose Certain Villains For ‘The Batman’ And His Hopes For Future Villains

Have you found yourself wondering why certain villains made it into The Batman? Well, Matt Reeves has the answer!

Check out the discussion with Reeves below.

Villains in The Batman.
(Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)

How did you decide which villain would be first? And how did you decide where to stop with villains? Can you talk a little bit about Riddler as its kind of modern social media villain?

Reeves: Well, I knew that I wanted to do a story. I knew I didn’t want to do an origin story and I knew that I wanted to do a story that would lean into the detective side of Batman because we hadn’t seen it where it was really in the forefront of the story. And so when I started thinking about that, I knew that what was important to me was that Batman has the arc of the story, that you wanted to do a story. Because a lot of times, once he’s already Batman, he no longer has the arc, per se. You might have rogues gallery characters come in in the way they have the grand story.

And then Batman is going to battle them in some way. And I want to do a Batman story where he was already Batman, but he was still in the early days and had to find a way to sort of really evolve. And I wanted to do a story that the investigation of this particular mystery would lead him back to something very personal and would rock him to his core. 

So, knowing that I wanted to do that kind of thing, I started sort of thinking about, you know, from Long Halloween. I was thinking about the sort of, you know, Calendar Man, and the idea of different sort of killings. And then this idea came to me, I thought, well, you know, we could do a thing where at these crimes this there’s this correspondence left for the Batman. And the whole idea of being Batman is your power is being anonymous. So the idea that suddenly someone is shining a light on you, that would be very unsettling to him. And I thought, well, that’s a great way in. And as I started thinking about that and trying to ground it, I thought about the Zodiac Killer. And I thought about how the Zodiac Killer in this horrific way left all of these sort of disturbing ciphers and these communications to the police and to the newspapers, and how unsettling that was. 

And I thought, wow, that actually sounds like a horrifying version of the Riddler because he was leaving all these puzzles. So, the Riddler was part of the conception very early on and trying to figure out which of the Rogues Gallery characters would communicate in that way with Batman. And so that happened right away. And then I started thinking to me what’s interesting, like I said before, is not his origin. But I thought it would be interesting that as you followed the details of the crime, it would take him across the paths of these other characters. I knew right away that I wanted Selina Kyle to be in the story. But I thought, “Well, gee, maybe there’s a way that we go searching for this person who was seen with the mayor.” And that takes us to the Iceberg Lounge. And that’s a version of The Penguin you’ve never seen, and that we could own that. 

So it’s this whole thing where you do the deep dive and you have like, everything becomes like a blender. Like the number of comics that I read just to begin, and then watching sort of a bunch of stuff and reading Mindhunter, learning about profiling serial killers. So that was kind of what it led to. It was Riddler first. And then thinking about the path and how we could cross these kind of iconic characters but in versions you hadn’t seen and in versions that weren’t yet the versions that we know. That was sort of the concept. And in terms of the social media aspect of it, it was very important to me that Gotham will not be New York, Chicago, [or] any particular city. I want you to feel like, wow, this is a place we’ve never been before. But it feels absolutely like an iconic American city, a really corrupt messed-up place. I wanted it to be very much of our world. And as I was doing that [I was] thinking, okay, so Riddler wouldn’t write to the Chronicle the way that Zodiac Killer did. He would start using social media because that’s what it would be. And this idea of the kind of viral communication, I just wanted it to be very much of our world. So that’s kind of how that came about.

(Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)

Do you think this incarnation of Batman is one that could include the more fantastical elements in success, like your Clay Faces and your Man-Bats?

Reeves: I just feel drawn to finding the grounded version of everything. So to me, it would be a challenge in an interesting way to try and figure out how that could happen. Like, you know, even the idea of something like Mr. Freeze. Like, that’s such such a great story, right? And I think there’s actually a grounded version of that story, which could be really powerful and could be really great. So I love the fantastical side of Batman. But this iteration, obviously, I think it is very comic faithful. But I don’t think that this one is necessarily leans as hard into the fantastical, I guess. But I think it would be interesting to try and unwind the fantastical and see how that could make sense here. And so that’s kind of my view of how I how I see it.

The Batman hits theaters on March 4.

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