We know that post-BATMAN v SUPERMAN/JUSTICE LEAGUE, Warner Bros. has and is continuing, to make significant changes to their DC on film universe. Most of the folks who held significant DC on film positions at the studio are no longer involved with these movies going forward. And the films themselves — starting with James Wan’s AQUAMAN this coming December — are going to be their own thing; though technically, they are still part of a shared cinematic universe (except for these “Black Label”/whatever they’re called DC films such as the Joaquin Phoenix-starring JOKER).
As far as the shared DC on film universe setting up another team-up film — AKA another JUSTICE LEAGUE movie — that ain’t happening anytime soon…if at all. Therefore, the folks who want (need?) these characters in the same cinematic universe can go see AQUAMAN, SHAZAM!, and WONDER WOMAN 1984 knowing that, in principle, they coexist. (Although in the case of WW84, Bruce Wayne is probably a kid and Kal El of Krypton has yet to be born; much less sent rocketing from Krypton to Earth.)
In regards to the characters we saw in JUSTICE LEAGUE, we are for sure seeing Jason Momoa’s Aquaman and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman again in AQUAMAN and WONDER WOMAN 1984, respectively.
Since it’s kinda obvious now that Henry Cavill will cameo in SHAZAM! as Superman, I’m going to go out on a limb as say we’re going to see him in a solo Superman film relatively soon…maybe…I hope. (I mean, really. Why would you make the guy cameo in another DC movie if you didn’t want him and this Superman going forward? But maybe it was simply a way to have Cavill fulfill his contract.)
There’s a Flash film that will star Ezra Miller as the Scarlet Speedster in the works, but it’s far from being a given.
A solo Cyborg film with Ray Fisher? Highly doubt it (though he could show up in the solo Flash film…if it happens, of course).
Now, let’s address the elephant in the room: The DC on Film Universe’s Batman as played by Ben Affleck.
First of all, JUSTICE LEAGUE was very likely Ben Affleck’s last turn as Batman on the big screen.
Secondly, Matt Reeves is currently working on a script for a solo Batman film that he will direct if and when it gets the green light from Warner Bros.
If Affleck’s done — which for all intents and purposes seems to be the case — what should we make of Reeves’ film? When asked about the direction of his Batman movie in August of 2017, without hesitation, he said the following…
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.
Of course, Reeves himself walked that statement back a few days later, but whatever — that was more damage control to calm down the restless natives (i.e. folks who MUST have a shared DC on film universe) than anything else. It’s been clear that the only reason Reeves signed on to write and direct THE BATMAN (or whatever it’ll be called) was because the studio gave him a great deal of creative control on the project (i.e. he can make the Batman film he wants to make).
For the sake of this op-ed (I’m fixin’ to get to my main point!), let’s assume the educated scuttlebutt we’ve heard about his Bat-Film is true, OK? Reeves’ film is going to feature a Bruce Wayne/Batman that’s much younger than the one played by Ben Affleck in BATMAN v SUPERMAN and JUSTICE LEAGUE. And, of course, Ben Affleck ain’t playin’ this Dark Knight as the part will be recast by Reeves.
Let’s also assume that Reeves’ film(s) are a complete reboot, OK? (And hell, it really doesn’t matter if it’s a prequel or soft reboot ala BATMAN FOREVER.) What’s to become of the pushing-50 year old Batman that exists in the DC on film universe proper?
The answer is simple: He lives on in the periphery.
A great — and perhaps the best — example of this is the BvS/JL/Batfleck Batarang we saw on display in the first trailer for SHAZAM! We saw the Batarang, so we know he exists and is still out there in the “shared universe.”
Since there are no plans for another Justice League movie anytime soon, and new DC on film boss Walter Hamada wanting DC movies to be their own thing, worrying about the aged Batfleck Batman mixing and mingling with Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, Jason Momoa’s Aquaman, and (hopefully) Henry Cavill’s Superman is a moot point. Same goes for Margot Robbie’s next turn as Harley Quinn in BIRDS OF PREY. (Really folks, Batman showing up in this film because it’s likely set in Gotham isn’t a must and has to happen.)
I kinda think it’s a win-win for everyone here. Matt Reeves can make his Batman film(s) — be it a prequel or hard reboot — his way — making the “Batman on film fresh start” people happy. And for the “gotta have a shared cinematic universe” folks, “Batfleck” can live on. – Bill “Jett” Ramey