What is the Future of (Solo) Batman on Film?

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Yes, what is the future of Batman on film?  Not this website, but live-action Batman movies from Warner Bros. and DC Studios (though BOF’s future is most certainly tied to Batman on film).

In the short term, things look good with THE BATMAN SAGA in the hands of Matt Reeves.  2022’s THE BATMAN was a big hit both critically and at the box office, and continued Warner’s string of success with solo Batman films.  Reeves, however, is doing something that none of his Bat-director predecessors did: creating an entire Batman cinematic universe.  Not only are we expected to get a trilogy of THE BATMAN films as well as THE PENGUIN on MAX making its debut sometime here in 2024.  Furthermore, it’s very likely that Reeves and co. will fill out THE BATMAN UNIVERSE with additional THE PENGUIN-like shows on MAX (GCPD, CATWOMAN?), comic books (such as 2023’s THE RIDDLER: YEAR ONE by Paul Dano), and books like the prequel junior novel BEFORE THE BATMAN.

All of this is awesome…and finite.  Once THE BATMAN: PART III is released, THE BATMAN SAGA will be concluded. (And that’s the way it should be — You know, “The Case for Batman Rebooted” thing.)

Of course, there’s already a succession plan for THE BATMAN SAGA: A new DCU Batman debuting in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD. (To note, it’s possible/likely that the new DCU Batman — whomever that may end up being — and THE BATMAN‘s Batman — Robert Pattinson — will coexist for a brief period…and that shouldn’t happen. The DCU Batman can wait.)

With the new DCU and THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD, we’re getting Batman and the Batman Family who exist along with other DC characters in a shared universe chock-full of team-ups/cameos, and an overarching storyline across multiple media platforms. (Yes, I know that there are a lot of y’all reading this (and not reading this, but somewhere out there in the Bat-ether) who want this sort of thing.  But we’ve already seen that movie and know how it ends.  Lest we forget, Warner Bros. has already tried to establish a DC on film shared universe and failed spectacularly at it.)

Here’s the issue with this new DCU Batman: It’s not solo Batman on film…and solo, self-contained Batman films have historically worked the best.

Sure, THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD is a Batman movie (technically).  But using what we already know about SUPERMAN: LEGACY, TBATB will end up being as much of a DCU film as a Batman one.  I not only expect to see Batman, the Damien Wayne version of Robin, and the Batman Family in it, but several non-Batman DC characters as well. It wouldn’t shock me in the least if Ambush Bug was one of the film’s characters.  Furthermore, the film’s plot will likely play as much service to Batman as it does to DCU world-building.

Keep in mind that the DCU Batman’s future is in the hands of all of the DCU projects.  If the DCU doesn’t catch on and/or flames out relatively quickly, then so does that Batman.

Top to bottom: Tim Burton and Michael Keaton on BATMAN ’89; Christopher Nolan, Katie Holmes, and Christian Bale on BATMAN BEGINS; and Matt Reeves and Robert Pattinson on THE BATMAN.

When talking about solo Batman on film, I’m specifically referring to movies from skilled filmmakers who have a vision/passion for the character and have damn near carte blanche creative freedom…like Tim Burton’s BATMAN ’89 (and more so, BATMAN RETURNS…even though I’m not amongst it’s fans), Christopher Nolan’s THE DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY, and Matt Reeves’ THE BATMAN (and THE BATMAN SAGA over the next few years).  You know, Batman films like these that weren’t part of a shared universe, and the directors behind them weren’t restricted by continuity and the events of other films (previous and upcoming).

So, back to the question at hand: What IS the future of solo Batman on film?

My answer: I’m not sure.

It appears as if we’re going to be saddled with this DCU Batman for a while.  This is unfortunate because these “solo” Batman movies — starting with THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD — will exist mainly to further serve the DCU and its overall storyline.  That’s a bummer because it likely means we won’t be getting true solo films like BATMAN ’89, BATMAN BEGINS, THE BATMAN, etc. from directors like Burton, Nolan, and Reeves until the DCU runs its course…or fails.

Perhaps DC Studios’ ELSWORLDS banner might be solo Batman on film’s lifesaver.  While not originally intended, Matt Reeves’ THE BATMAN SAGA is now categorized as such along with Todd Phillips’ JOKER films.  ELSEWORLDS at least leaves the door open for filmmaker-driven Batman and DC projects that are not part of the interconnected DCU…that’s if WB and DC Studios don’t kill that banner after THE BATMAN SAGA concludes.

Certainly, Batman on film hasn’t come to an end nor will it for the foreseeable future.  Yet it appears that the days of true solo Batman on film’s days are indeed numbered. – Bill “Jett” Ramey