The Batman’s Matt Reeves Has Some Fascinating Thoughts About The Dark Knight’s Most Fantastical Villains

Robert Pattinson as Batman and Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman in The Batman
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

When it comes to big screen depictions, Batman has been a relatively grounded character since the turn of the century. Christopher Nolan had tremendous success leaning into the whole “no powers” aspect of the Dark Knight, depicting the hero as a person who could potentially live in our world, and it’s an aesthetic that has had a long and lasting impact on how audiences view the Caped Crusader.

In some ways, Matt Reeves’ The Batman is a continuation of this approach/philosophy, as the new blockbuster is similarly aiming at a kind of heightened realism – but does that mean that we won’t get to see some of the more fantastical villains from the vigilante’s spectacular rogues’ gallery? If you’re worried about this, you shouldn’t be; Reeves has thoughts about how his potential sequels may find a way to utilize those special foes.

Matt Reeves participated in a press event for The Batman in Los Angeles last week, and while on a panel the filmmaker was asked about some of the hero’s more “out there” antagonists – the question specifically asking bout characters like the shapeshifting Clayface and the monstrous Man-Bat. Reeves admitted that he personally finds himself more drawn to the real world elements of Batman’s world – but further added that there is a kind of creative challenge in trying to make the more outrageous villains fit into that aesthetic:

In my view, I just feel drawn to finding the grounded version of everything. So to me it would be challenge in an interesting way to try and figure out how that could happen. Even the idea of something like Mr. Freeze – that's 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.

Mr. Freeze is certainly an interesting character in this conversation. The villain has a backstory of lost love that outfits him with great depth and strong motive… but there are major unreal elements like the fact that he can’t survive outside of sub-zero temperatures and utilizes weapons like Freeze Rays. If you’re aiming for realism, those are vital details that are hard to rationalize. But that’s gotta be part of the fun.

Continuing, Matt Reeves stressed that he personally has an appreciation for the fantastical parts of Batman comics, but that The Batman is more faithful to other iterations of the source material. That being said, it doesn’t sound like he is ruling anything out, and he is going to let the strength of story and characterization guide him as he plans out the future. Said the director,

I love the fantastical side of Batman, but this iteration, obviously, while being to me, I think, very comics faithful, but I don't think that this one is necessarily... it doesn't lean as hard into the fantastical, I guess. But I think to me, what would be interesting would be to try and unwind the fantastical and see, 'Well, how could that make sense here? And so that's kind of my view, how I see it.

Mr. Freeze is just one of many Batman villains who fit under this umbrella – others including Poison Ivy, Solomon Grundy, and The Ventriloquist – and imagining what is potentially in store for these characters on the big screen in the coming years is surely going to be a big part of Batman fan hood in coming months.

While we patiently anticipate what Matt Reeves has in store in the years to come, we’re still bursting with excitement to see what he does with the likes of The Riddler and The Penguin in The Batman – and the wait for the new blockbuster is almost over. The film will be arriving in theaters everywhere on March 4, and you can purchase your tickets now. You can check out everything that is going on with future DC projects by checking out our Upcoming DC Movies guide.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.