DC TV and movies are leaning hard into the Multiverse, showcasing multiple live-action versions of Batman in the coming years.
Various DC Comics-based products have been derailed by embargoes related to the popular Batman property. This affected cartoons such as Justice League Unlimited, Teen Titans and The Batman. It has also kept Batman off of the small screen for decades, with his cast of characters similarly kept from being used.
Now, however, Warner Bros. is not only going to have several different versions of Batman on the small screen but in movies, as well. Catapulting off of the character’s timeless popularity, DC is smartly giving fans several options and venues to consume Batman-related stories in ways that for years they had refused to.
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Batman on the Small Screen
The small screen has almost always had the biggest hurdles in hosting Batman, which is ironic considering that for the longest time, his biggest source of pop culture stardom was the 1960s series starring Adam West. Gotham somewhat circumvented this issue by having five seasons set in a Gotham City before the appearance of Batman. This resulted in the show having many of the criticisms that Smallville had, such as the fact that all of Batman’s villains are already established well before he actually suits up. The show did still theoretically have Batman, however, with the presence of a young Bruce Wayne in the cast.
Current DC TV shows, while still reluctant to have Batman appear regular, are much freer in using the character. Titans had Batman appear in the show’s first season, with Robin fighting his mentor in the Season 1 finale. Related concepts such as Robin are also no longer embargoed, with Barbara Gordon, Scarecrow and Gotham City set to appear in the upcoming third season. Meanwhile, the season finale of Batwoman seemingly introduced a returning Bruce Wayne/Batman, who is actually Hush in disguise. There’s also the upcoming Gotham Central HBO Max series, which may eventually feature the Dark Knight in some capacity.
Batman on the Big Screen
For decades, the big screen has been the home of live-action Batman, and that’s certainly still the case. The most recent version of the Caped Crusader in his full-on glory was Ben Affleck’s version, which was last seen in 2017’s Justice League. The actor is returning to the role at least one last time for the upcoming and highly awaited The Flash movie, but he won’t be alone. Michael Keaten will also be reprising his role as the Batman from the Tim Burton-directed films, as The Flash will lean heavily on the concept of the multiverse. Not only does this cement Affleck’s place as the DCEU Batman, but it also finally returns Keaton to the role, something which fans had been requesting for years.
The Batman is another upcoming DC project and is set in its own universe. Seemingly grounded and more realistic, in the same vein as the Nolan Trilogy, this film will feature a younger version of Batman. Played by Robert Pattinson, this version of Batman will have more of a noir feel than a typical superhero movie. At first developed as a standalone film for Affleck’s Dark Knight, it was completely reworked when he stepped away from the role. While believed for a while to still be a prequel to that version of the character, it is now officially its own reality. This shows that DC is no longer banking on simply one live-action version of the character, and is being more open about various interpretations of one character existing at the same time.
The Batman is directed by Matt Reeves and co-written by Reeves and Mattson Tomlin. The film stars Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth, Jeffrey Wright as James Gordon, Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Colin Farrell as Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin, Paul Dano as Edward Nashton/The Riddler, John Turturro as Carmine Falcone and Peter Sarsgaard as District Attorney Gil Colson. The Batman is set to be released in theaters on Oct. 1, 2021.
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