As per the reports, Ben Affleck is no longer Batman. Therefore, it is only correct that The Batman should be separated from the DCEU. The solo film based on The Dark Knight has undergone several changes during the last one year, and Affleck has stepped down as the writer-director, and Matt Reeves has joined the project. Now, it appears as he has exited the character as well. There had been reports earlier about Reeves desiring to keep his film separate from the DCEU, and this ultimate step is the only way to do so.
The Batman is in the pre-production stage even now and since the franchise’s future is not clear after Justice League, and we don’t know when will it undergo filming, leave alone the release in theaters. However, whenever that happens, it is best for Bruce Wayne to stand on his own. Today, let’s see why.
WHAT’S THE BEST COURSE OF ACTION FOR THE BATMAN?
THE DCEU ISN’T WHERE THE BATMAN SHOULD BE
The joint universe concept was first created by Marvel in 2008, and it has become the operating pattern in the modern Hollywood, and all the studios are now trying to replicate Marvel’s success. However, we are witnessing another major turmoil in the superhero world right now, and that’s something not yet acknowledged by the fans and studios.
It all began with last year’s Deadpool, a racy superhero comedy that stormed the movie world. The success of Deadpool was followed up by Logan earlier this year. The final Hugh Jackson film as Wolverine was a superhero film merged with a violent and gore Western. The film was a huge hit, and it earned over $616 million against a budget of only $97 million. Fox is now following up with New Mutants in 2018 which will be a film that unleashes a superhero horror trilogy.
Fox has approached the shared universe system in a more flexible manner compared to Marvel. They accept that their continuity is complex, they have decided to ensure that their films are not linked together at all. That gives the directors a never seen before the degree of creative freedom. Thus, the outcome is superhero films that are different from others. It has turned out to be a huge success, and The Batman will be well advised to follow this pattern.
The shared universe framework hasn’t done wonders for Warner Bros with the only exception being Wonder Woman. Apart from the Patty Jenkins movie, we have seen each subsequent DCEU film has made less money than the previous one. On the other hand, Fox’s formula has given a chance to take a different approach.
Batman would be the best bet for trying this out, not just because DC Comics has done the same with the Dark Knight for several decades. There are a lot more Batman standalone graphic novels compared to any other DC hero which means he is the most suitable to be reinterpreted. WB has now stepped into the “Elseworlds” waters with the Martin Scorsese helmed Joker movie; the studio is definitely contemplating this.
If we observe carefully then the same pattern has been true for the Batman movies as well. Tim Burton’s 1989 classic was a temperamental and thematic film which literally redefined the Caped Crusader and gave a new look and feel to Gotham. On the other hand, Christopher Nolan’s trilogy was an experiment for its period, a dark and realistic saga.
The flaw with the shared universe premise is that it can’t give that freedom of creativity. If one gamble fails, then it causes ripples to the entire structure.
It is not as if the MCU hasn’t faced risks. There have been three high-risk moments faced by it beginning with 2008 release Iron-Man; if that film had flopped, then it would have endangered the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe framework. Then the 2012 film The Avengers was required to fulfill the four years of foundation laying. Then the biggest risk is the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War which must live up to the aura of a decade of build-up. These films have handled tremendous pressure.
The same extent of pressure is currently being exerted on every DCEU film. This has so far caused WB to interfere with the visions of the directors, chopping and reshoots and compelling corporate shakedowns after each debacle amidst the hopes of a universal reset. If The Batman remains in the DCEU, then it will face the same pressure and risk and might bear the fallout of the Justice League. It is a big step to remove a major character, but, it is the right thing to do when the bigger brand and movie quality come into the picture.
Reeves must be given the same creative freedom that DC Comics gives to writers such as Frank Miller, Alan Moore, and Jeph Loeb. To make a Batman film that’s different from any other seen so far, its director must be free from the pressure of working within a structure where each box office failure results in another business reset and each creative decision is taken into account the impact on five other films. He must be allowed to choose a Batman matching his vision and not the one chosen to accommodate a long-term vision spanning several films.
Frankly, he needs the freedom that Logan maker James Mangold had. He went on to make a superhero film which was unique because he didn’t focus on the concept of the superhero genre. Mangold created a Western flick with superheroes being a part of it. That’s just what Warner Bros has to let Reeve do. The best tales of Batman feature a range of tones and patterns varying from Steampunk to classic detective, from psycho horror to grim. That’s the creative palette which Reeves should be free to choose from and as per the rumors, he might have got just that.
The best thing about such an approach is that it won’t mean that you discard the DCEU. In case the new Batman is loved by the audiences, he can later be woven into a crossover with the other Justice League characters. DC has done the same with the best solo graphic novels whether it be The Killing Joke to Hush, the most iconic graphic novels have slowly become a part of the Batman canon. On the other hand, if the experiment fails then you need just to step back, let a couple of years pass and then relaunch Batman afresh. In the meanwhile, the DCEU will proceed without any setback.
The shared universe structure has its own weaknesses and strengths. Till now, sadly the weaknesses have been prominent in DCEU. By changing the strategy and taking a leaf out of Fox’s book, Warner Bros. can revive The Batman once again.