UPDATE [08/24/17]: The Batman director Matt Reeves took to Twitter to clarify his comments. Looks like Batman is staying well within the main DCEU continuity for now. His stand-alone film will simply be similar to Wonder Woman in that it won’t be a vehicle for crossover cameos.
There’s something odd going on with Warner Bros. and DC Comics. The collaboration between these two titans of entertainment to create a unified superhero universe has not been without bumps. From middling reviews for Batman v Superman to behind-the-scenes drama including a revolving door in the director’s chair for The Flash and last minute changes to Justice League, movies based on DC heroes have taken their licks. Now the latest news coming from within Warner Bros. only adds to a sense of confusion.
In a recent radio interview with Los Angeles station KCRW, director Matt Reeves was there to talk about his film War for the Planet of the Apes but the conversation turned to his next project, The Batman. The stand-alone feature was supposed to turn the character back towards a more traditional Batman. However, the spin-off has been mired in production troubles Affleck stepped down as director back in the beginning of 2017 and then Reeves stepped in, revealing last month that the script had been thrown out and they were starting from scratch. (That not even factoring in rumors that someone else will be taking over the role for Affleck.) Now it looks like The Batman might not even be in the same continuity as Justice League. According to Reeves:
Well, I have a vision for a way to do something with that character [Batman] that feels like it resonates with me personally, and a perspective that can grow out into other things. When they [Warner Bros.] approached me, what they said was ‘look, it’s a standalone, it’s not part of the extended universe.’
This announcement comes on the heels of Warner Bros. revealing a Joker origin story is in the works to be produced by Martin Scorsese and directed by Todd Phillips. The idea behind the Joker vehicle is to launch a new arm of the DECU, one where the studio can “expand the canon of DC properties and create unique storylines with different actors playing the iconic characters.” If that film moves forward, it will utilize a completely different take on the Joker separate from either Jared Leto or Heath Ledger’s take on the Clown Prince. While Leto will reprise his role in Suicide Squad 2, a new actor will be cast for the “origin” tale.
Combined with the quote from Reeves about the fate of The Batman, it sounds like DC is trying to kickstart an “Elseworlds” branch of their cinematic universe. For those that don’t know, Elseworlds have long been part to the DC Comics brand, allowing writers and artists to put iconic comic book characters into situations outside the main continuity as a way to explore stories without putzing with the timeline. Warner Bros. is already halfway to this with their live-action iterations of classic heroes and villains. Unlike Marvel, who have placed all their characters in the same cinematic universe, DC has been content to let their movie and television heroes live on different planes of existence. They even had to do a whole story to get Supergirl into the same continuity as the Arrowverse. So doubling down on multiple timelines is perfectly within reason. Warner Bros. just needs to clarify if that’s what they’re doing because right now these announcements are simply sowing confusion.
Without a proper, official pivot to Elsworlds fans and critics are left to fill in the blanks. Did Matt Reeves mean The Batman is a completely new Batman, just with Affleck in the role? Or will Batman find himself embroiled in a timeline disruption courtesy of the Flash’s shenanigans? Will the events of The Batman or the Joker movie affect the Justice League continuity or stand outside of it? What are the stakes in Justice League if DC is already looking to soft reboot their universe with new timelines? All these questions and more are raised by a lack of clarity that hopefully the studio won’t allow fans to wallow in for long.
[Via The Wrap]