Matt Reeves’ The Batman won’t arrive in theaters until June 2021, but it’s already sparking plenty of conversation among fans of DC Comics’ Dark Knight.
With Robert Pattinson taking over the cape and cowl, The Batman explores the early years of Gotham City’s titular vigilante and introduces a new cast of actors playing the hero’s popular supporting cast of allies and enemies. Filming is currently underway on the movie, and the details that have emerged so far have led to a few big questions about the Dark Knight’s next live-action adventure.
Where (and when) does it fit?
We know The Batman is set in the character’s formative years, while he’s still establishing himself as the costumed crime-fighter that will eventually stand toe-to-toe with Superman and Wonder Woman. However, with so many timelines currently at play in Warner Bros. Pictures’ superhero universe, it’s anyone’s guess where the film fits into the studio’s competing worlds.
As it stands now, WB has its DC Extended Universe, which encompasses everything from Man of Steel through Justice League and, most recently, Birds of Prey. There’s also the universe of 2019’s Joker, the dark origin story for Batman’s archenemy that earned star Joaquin Phoenix an Academy Award. And then there’s Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, set in a world where Batman is the only hero meting out justice to criminals.
If The Batman is intended to fit in the DCEU, it will need to account for the events of Wonder Woman and other films in that timeline set prior to Bruce Wayne’s decision to don a Batsuit and beat up bad guys. If it’s set in the world of Joker, it would need to account for that film’s 1980s setting and the age difference between Joker and Bruce Wayne, who was introduced as a child in the film.
And finally, if it’s set in Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, it would need to be squeezed somewhere into the character’s formative years as they were depicted across the three films.
That last possibility seems the least likely of the bunch, but given how complicated the first two options also are, The Batman will probably establish its own, new timeline. So that might mean yet another continuity for WB’s live-action superhero universe — which has become more than a little messy at this point.
Is it a new beginning?
If The Batman does indeed kick off a new, Batman-focused timeline in the WB superhero universe — and particularly if it does a good job of it — there’s a chance we could be looking at the start of an entirely new franchise.
We’ve already been shown that that WB’s superhero universe encompasses a myriad of different sub-universes — including the other, aforementioned franchises, as well as The Flash, Supergirl, and the rest of the interconnected DC Comics shows on The CW. That relationship was confirmed during a recent Flash episode that had the show’s titular hero (portrayed by Grant Gustin) meet up with his counterpart in the DCEU (played by Ezra Miller) in a surprise, universe-crossing cameo.
If The Batman does indeed serve as the debut of a new timeline, it offers a lot to look forward to — or worry about, depending on how you view WB’s handling of the DC heroes.
A new Batman franchise means an entirely new approach to not just Bruce Wayne and his costumed alter ego, but also his colorful — and in some cases, gritty — cast of enemies and allies. The film already has new iterations of Catwoman, James Gordon, and Riddler cast, with other familiar characters also likely to be reimagined for this version of DC’s Dark Knight. There’s a lot of potential there, particularly with the sort of inspired casting we’ve seen so far.
Of course, if the film is shoehorned into any of the existing universes, there’s also the intriguing possibility that Robert Pattinson’s Batman could encounter young versions of the characters introduced in the DCEU or other timelines. It would be a complicated fit, certainly, but also a fascinating mix for fans of the existing live-action characters.
What about Deathstroke?
In 2016, when Ben Affleck was still expected to direct and star in The Batman, actor Joe Manganiello was confirmed to be playing the film’s villain: The mercenary Slade Wilson, better known as Deathstroke. Manganiello later made a post-credits cameo in Justice League as Deathstroke, seemingly confirming the character’s role in events to come in the DCEU.
Although Reeves indicated in January 2019 that the movie will feature Batman’s rogues’ gallery in one form or another, there’s been no indication since then that Deathstroke will be involved in The Batman.
With Paul Dano as Riddler, Colin Ferrell as Oswald “Penguin” Cobblepot, and John Turturro as the mobster Carmine Falcone, the cast of The Batman would seem a bit too crowded for a character as prominent as Deathstroke to have a place in the story. Still, it would seem like a waste to abandon Manganiello’s Deathstroke to the development limbo the DCEU currently occupies, given how well his portrayal of the character has been received.
Whether The Batman answers this question — or any others, for that matter — remains to be seen, but Reeves’ spin on the Dark Knight is looking more compelling with every detail that emerges.
We’ll finally have our answers June 25, 2021, when The Batman finally arrives in theaters.
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