The title of this article isn’t referring to the changes in directors for The Batman (Matt Reeves was of course recently tapped to replace Ben Affleck) or anything to do with rumors of Affleck wanting out of playing the dark knight. It’s not even about issues from last year’s Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
No, this article is referring to Warner Bros. growing Batman obsession.
Back in 2014 when WB announced that they were, at last, going to move past their years of churning out almost nothing but Batman movies when it comes to DC Comics films, it was a joyous time. Fans were happy to hear that they would finally see films with Wonder Woman, The Flash, a new take on Green Lantern, and the Justice League coming together among others.
Warner Bros. seemed content to stick with their plan, until the critically and fan divisive Batman V. Superman and Suicide Squad made their debuts in 2016. Out of that disappointing cloud the studio suddenly was pushing forward on a new solo Batman movie, since Affleck’s Batman was the best part of BVS to many, and soon after word came down that they were pursuing a Gotham City Sirens film focused on Batman’s rogues Harley Quinn, Catwoman and Poison Ivy among other Batman-related characters possibly.
Then recently word emerged that The LEGO Batman Movie director Chris McKay is in talks to do a Nightwing film for the studio, bringing Batman’s protege and former partner into the film world spotlight.
At the same time, The Flash has lost two directors & is undergoing rewrites, Shazam! has gotten a spinoff but is still sitting in creative limbo, Cyborg has seemingly been all but forgotten, and the planned Justice League sequel was taken off the docket all together. Even Superman, who began to DCEU with Man of Steel, is in limbo in regards to a sequel.
Suddenly the DC Extended Universe is looking more like The DC Batman and Friends universe. This is where the problem comes in.
Instead of going with the disappointment of their first films in the DCEU and working on sticking to the plan and doing better, Warner Bros. is starting to rely on their usual crutch: Batman.
As previously stated most of the 90’s and 2000’s were dominated by Batman films from the DC Comics side of Warner Bros. films. Even the most disliked Batman films made bank for the company and now they are seeming to go back to the well by greenlighting a bunch of films that are focused on Batman or his allies/villains.
That is a giant mistake. The DC Universe is chock full of characters that deserve a spotlight and Batman is not one of them right now.
Everyone knows who Batman is. It’s time for other characters to get their shot, much like how Wonder Woman is finally getting her shot at a film after being cast to the side for decades.
Continuing to pull only from Batman’s world is going to be detrimental to the company in the long run. Not monetarily for sure as Batman sells, but a shared universe called the DCEU can’t really be the DC universe if Batman is the focus.
Warner Bros. is scared, it’s understandable. They tried something new and it didn’t go well at first, but that is what happens.
While I do not like to make comparisons, I’m going to in this case. When the Marvel Cinematic Universe began, it was not the strongest thing around.
Iron Man did well, but The Incredible Hulk is a pretty split down the middle film to most fans. Same goes for Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, Iron Man 3 and so many others.
In the end, though they stuck with their plan and kept building upon the foundation, creating films that were more and more successful even if fans were still split on how they like them.
That’s not to say that Warner Bros. is going to cancel any of those originally announced DCEU films, but the more they seem to focus on Batman the more likely it is that those other films will begin to slip away and possibly be forgotten.
Nightwing and Gotham City Sirens are still diverse enough that they will add something new to the storyline, instead of just being films focused on Batman. Warner Bros. just needs to make sure that they don’t let perceived failure sway them away from their plan.
Bear down and continue to expand the DCEU. In the long run, it will be a move that pays off if the effort is fully put in.
Don’t just rest upon the crutch that is Batman.