Ben Affleck was supposed to not only star in ‘The Batman’, but co-write and direct as well, but after too much headbutting with Warner Brothers, he stepped down from the director’s chair and rumors swirled that he was prepared to exit the DC Extended Universe entirely. (So far it seems as though he is hanging onto the cowl… for now.) Matt Reeves stepped in, but it was on a certain condition– it was to be a standalone movie.
When they approached me, what they said was look, it’s a standalone. This isn’t part of the Extended Universe.
We just learned that Martin Scorsese is producing a ‘Joker’ movie that is not part of the DCEU as the first of a special set of movies that will tell stories with various DC characters that are not tied to the DCEU. Jared Leto will not play this Joker. Instead, the role will be recast, most likely with a younger actor. Is Reeves saying that the same is true of ‘The Batman’?
Just guessing but probably not. What he probably means is that he won’t have to force in references to the larger DCEU. Patty Jenkins’ ‘Wonder Woman’ connected to ‘Batman V Superman’ only slightly in the opening and closing framing sequences, and even then, it was vague, with just a few references to Wayne Enterprises and her email exchange with Bruce Wayne. Email, not phone call. We never even heard Affleck’s voice.
Even if you look at the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is more heavily tied together, not every movie is packed to the gills with super guest stars. Some are, sure, but there are many where the character or characters whose names serve as the film’s title get to enjoy the spotlight, reserving cameos for mid- or post-credits scenes.
To be honest, the DCEU is still fairly early into its existence and the first two official movies were uneven. WB scored big with ‘Wonder Woman’ which shows that these films don’t have to be drenched in shared continuity. A solo Batman movie with Ben Affleck in the lead has to exist in the DCEU otherwise it would be too confusing, whereas the ‘Joker’ movie is being recast with a different actor, definitively indicating that it is a separate continuity. But if Affleck is Batman, then it’s the same Batman we’ve already seen twice now. But that doesn’t mean the film or its makers have to go out of the way to force this Batman/Bruce Wayne to meet up with or even call Superman or Wonder Woman.
After all, pick up a ‘Batman’ comic book and for the most part, he lives in his own Batverse. Sure another superhero could pop up every now and then, but it’s not required or forced. But we know that this Batman is the same character in the ‘Justice League’ comic book, but those separate adventures don’t all have to bleed into each other.
Then again, Batman has already had several movie cycles as a solo act. Reeves and his team would need to come up with something really unique to differentiate ‘The Batman’ from the late ’80s-early ’90s flicks and Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy.
What do you think? Would you rather ‘The Batman’ starring Affleck be self-contained? Or do you think the ties to the DCEU would help distinguish it from previous Bat-films?