For years, fans have been quietly complaining that the ‘World’s Greatest Detective’ aspect of Batman is being ignored on the big screen. Sure, we’ve seen previous live-action Batmen figuring out various sinister plans and following clues, but all that’s secondary to large-scale action sequences. That may all change next week, as Matt Reeves’ The Batman has been conceived as a complex detective story from its inception.
In a new interview with Collider, Reeves opened up on his nervousness about how audiences would react to this and how the movie took its true form in post-production:
“The first version of this movie that I screened; the movie has a very ambitious, complex narrative. So, by the time we got to a place where we had to start testing, I was not all the way through the cut of the movie. There was so much of the movie yet to be touched and it was really long. I mean, not to say that the movie doesn’t have length now, but it was longer than what I intended. I was terrified because I thought, oh my gosh, we’re showing this, before I’m ready, to an audience and in terms of a Batman movie, it’s a very complex detective story narrative. Are they going to be able to follow anything?”
His faith in the audiences’ intelligence was rewarded, as it was that very complexity that audiences responded to:
“What I found actually, which was amazing, was how much they loved that aspect. That was the biggest relief. I was thinking, okay, why did I do this? Why did I decide to make this kind of story? And what the first test screening told me was the audience wanted this, that we had the Batmobile chases, we had all the things.
You can’t make a Batman movie without giving the baseline things that people want from a Batman movie. But I knew we were challenging the audience in this side of world’s greatest detective side, because it was going to be a very complex narrative and it turned out they love that part of it. It was one of the things that tested best. So that part was a great thing to learn, which was that, actually, the audience would be excited about this version of the movie and that only continued to get better as we continued to test.”
We’ll find out for ourselves very soon. After an exceptionally long wait due to COVID-19 related delays, The Batman arrives next week. The review embargo will be over soon, but the early reactions seem to be overwhelmingly positive. If The Batman is a hit (and it almost certainly will be) expect much more from this new version of Gotham City soon.
We already know we’re getting spinoffs focused on Colin Farrell’s Penguin and the GCPD, but with rumors building of a top-secret Joker cameo late in the movie, a sequel could be fast-tracked through production as fast as possible. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, we still have this meaty, dark, and complicated Batman movie to chew through first.
The Batman makes its long-awaited arrival in theaters on March 4.