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Where Will The Batman Fit Into Warner's 10-Year DC Plan?

GameRant logo GameRant 8/31/2022 Ben Sherlock
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In the midst of Warner Bros.’ merger with Discovery, David Zaslav has taken over the studio and he has some big plans for Warner’s DC properties. His first controversial move as Warner’s new chief was to scrap a $90 million Batgirl movie that was near completion just for a tax write-off. To justify that write-off, the Batgirl movie – which Warner was recently considering switching from a streaming release to theatrical – will never see the light of day on any platform. Now that Batgirl has gotten the can, the Blue Beetle movie, starring a little-known C-list superhero, and The Flash movie, starring serial criminal Ezra Miller, are probably close behind.

James Gunn has assured fans that the second season of Peacemaker is still going ahead, but in-development projects like the Nightwing movie and the Black Canary spin-off and Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman threequel might not be so lucky. Right now, Zaslav is mercilessly gutting upcoming projects left and right as he settles into his throne and reimagines DC Films’ output. But he’s not just axing movies and streaming shows for the sake of it; he’s plotting to reshape and reconfigure the entire DC Extended Universe so that the franchise will finally have some coherence. According to his ambitious DCEU plans, Zaslav will start announcing new projects in their place soon enough.

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From the very beginning, the DCEU has been a failed attempt to emulate Marvel’s success with an interconnected movie franchise. Zaslav believes he has a solution: to start from scratch and try to copy the MCU all over again. He’s bringing in a team of executives to act as a sort of Kevin Feige collective to oversee the on-screen handling of lucrative DC Comics properties. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Zaslav has “a 10-year plan” to revamp the DCEU with a more tightly structured movie-verse built around “brands that are known everywhere in the world” like Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman.

The problem with the original DCEU was that it rushed to catch up with Marvel. Whereas Marvel rolled out its carefully planned story arcs in a series of phases, DC crammed the entire Justice League – and, bizarrely, the “Death of Superman” storyline – into just the second movie. Now that Warner is starting from scratch, they’re even further behind Marvel. But the decade-long nature of Zaslav’s plan is a promising sign. At least he’s not rushing into anything. The new DCEU needs to introduce its rebooted heroes on their own terms before teaming them up for ensemble spin-offs.

Superman is long overdue a reboot and fans are already happy with the on-screen incarnations of Wonder Woman and Aquaman (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it), but the Dark Knight presents a snag in Zaslav’s plot to reconstruct the DCEU. As of just a few months ago, Matt Reeves is building his own cinematic universe around Batman. Conceived to take place entirely separate from the existing DCEU, The Batman has the greenlight for its first sequel, with a second expected to complete the trilogy. On top of that, Colin Farrell is starring in a Penguin streaming series for HBO Max and a Gotham P.D. police procedural has been retooled as an Arkham Asylum horror show. So, how does all of this fit into Zaslav’s decade-long plan to rejuvenate DC Films’ output?

Either Zaslav will allow Reeves’ Bat-verse to proceed as planned and the new Warner Bros. boss will introduce yet another Batman within his 10-year plan to reboot the DCEU, or he’ll force Reeves’ subsequent Bat-projects to fit into the ambitious MCU-style universe he’s going to roll out over the next decade. The second option is the most likely, but connecting to a universe with gods and aliens would undermine the grounded tone that Reeves crafted so meticulously in The Batman. The whole point of The Batman – the mobster Penguin, the Zodiac-inspired Riddler, the practical Batmobile – was that it could take place in the real world (within reason). If Robert Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne starts rubbing shoulders with Superman and Aquaman and Wonder Woman, that realism will go straight out the window.

The best course might be to keep Reeves’ The Batman franchise and Zaslav’s reimagined DCEU separate. Warner can’t have a DC Comics-based cinematic universe without the Caped Crusader, but audiences might not go for two simultaneous Batman franchises. Moviegoers are getting superhero fatigue as it is. It’ll take the cake if studios start doubling up franchises starring their flagship comic book heroes. Still, with a character as iconic and beloved as Batman, it could work – if the new version that exists in Zaslav’s rebooted DCEU is different enough.

Reeves doubled down on the darkness in his own retelling of the Dark Knight story. The Batman might be the grittiest, gloomiest, most violent Batman movie to date. Zaslav can go the other way with a goofy, lighthearted, Adam Westian take on the Batman mythology. Not only would a zanier, sillier incarnation of the Bat differentiate itself from Reeves’ trilogy and offer audiences a breath of fresh air; it would also be better-suited to a universe containing an Amazonian princess, a shapeshifter from Mars, and an orphaned E.T. raised in Kansas.

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