WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Arrow Season 6, Episode 2
The fans can finally rest easy, now that Arrow has confirmed Bruce Wayne exists in its TV universe - is Batman far behind? Seeing Oliver Queen make a joking reference to Gotham City's own billionaire philanthropist wasn't the biggest twist in Arrow this season, but The CW made sure that every DC fan knew about the name drop ahead of time. And while the minds behind FOX's Gotham quickly shot back that Bruce Wayne is all theirs, fan speculation will need a lot more evidence before the idea of Batman joining the Arrowverse is put to rest.
For good reason, too. In the past, the show's decision to mold Oliver Queen in the shape of a small-screen Batman made comparisons inevitable. And before long, the arrival of one Batman enemy or ally after another added fuel to the fire. The question of whether or not The CW and DC will adapt a full-fledged Batman to its shared universe may not be answered yet. But with the producers finally teasing the presence of the superhero just outside of their story... is it only a matter of time before Batman joins Green Arrow, The Flash, and the rest of The CW's burgeoning Justice League?
Time to weigh the pros and cons.
Yes, Bruce Wayne Was Referenced Before
The namedrop demands some clarification, since many are already referring to this mention by name as the "first" such nod to Bruce Wayne, or confirmation that he exists in the world of Arrow and The Flash. While that may be true on this Earth, it isn't the only time that Bruce has been mentioned in the DC Multiverse of The CW - and not the first time that he's been alluded to in a superhero context. Where Supergirl's second season premiere made explicit mention of Gotham City existing on that show's Earth (Earth-38, to be precise), but Bruce Wayne made his 'debut' on The Flash in its second season.
When Barry Allen and Cisco Ramon made their jaunt over to Earth-2 during the Zoom/Jay Garrick fiasco of the show's second season, Barry got the chance to see how differently his life might have turned out. The heartbreaking moment came when he shared a phone call with his deceased mother (still alive on this Earth), but eagle-eyed DC fans noticed some familiar friends on Barry's speed dial. There was Hal, Diana, and Bruce - the civilian identities of Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and Batman, respectively.
Now the Barry of Earth-2 was far from a superhero, so it's safe to assume that this classic Flash-brand Justice League Easter Egg was simply a wink to the fans. But the fiction of the DC Multiverse supports it as potentially something more: the planet was the home of the Justice Society, the first wave of superheroes before Bruce Wayne, Diana Prince, or Hal Jordan ever got their powers.
So if Gotham City exists on Earth-38, Bruce Wayne is a friend to future Justice Leaguers on Earth-2, and a well-known billionaire on the planet of Arrow and The Flash... he may be as common a presence in The CW's Multiverse as any show's hero... we just haven't met him yet.
Could a New Batman Fit Into The Arrowverse?
As every fan now knows, when it comes to speculation about characters 'allowed' to be adapted to DC TV shows, there's more assumptions than actual evidence. By now, the number of DC character now adapted into DC television now reaches into the dozens with no signs of slowing, and even Dick Grayson will lead the TV Titans. In other words, the idea that parts of DC canon are 'off limits' is seeming less certain than ever. So the question is less 'is it possible for Batman to be allowed into The CW,' and more a question of how, and to what end.
The first question has become easier than ever to answer, now that Oliver Queen has spoken Bruce Wayne's name aloud. Not only that, but the Arrowverse shows have demonstrated a growing wave of threats - no longer threatening Central or Star City, but the entire planet. If a billionaire patroling the streets of Gotham City were so inclined, it would only make sense for them to reach out to the metahumans protecting other American cities.
And all the 'shared universe' questions aside, the mere existence of a Dick Grayson on TV suggests a version of Batman has already made the leap, as well.
As to the reason for justifying the presence of Batman in The CW's universe? It's safe to say that the network's DC heroes are still in need of some training before they reach the highest levels of crime fighting excellence. There could be nothing more satisfying than Batman putting Green Arrow in his place (in terms of both combat skills and brooding), while opening a door to levels of fan excitement and speculation the likes of which The CW has never seen. As popular as the introduction of Supergirl's new Superman may have been... it's Batman the world rushes to see.
To the producers and network executives, that fact alone explains why they're not wasting time in teasing the Dark Knight. So with the 'why' or 'how' easy enough to see for existing fans, the real mystery is: which Batman would make the most sense?
Will Gotham Be The Fr0ntrunner?
At one time, the idea that Batman would appear in the universe of DC Films AND on television was instantly laughable (if not implicitly ruled out by producers). When Gotham began as an origin story for Bruce Wayne, the contradiction was brushed aside due to the fact that it was set years before the boy ever became Batman. The show, it was promised, would be about the city's descent into its most iconic representations - it would NOT be "a Batman show" for thematic, if not legal reasons. Boy, how quickly that assertion was tossed aside.
No blame need be placed, since the appeal of making your Bruce Wayne TV show into a Batman origin story would be impossible for any executive to resist. And in its third season, Gotham's Bruce Wayne is already in costume, assembling his prototype Batsuit in a weekly re-imagining of Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins. He may not have the ears or cape, but the showrunners have already begun down the path to a proto-Batman on TV. So we have to ask... is this the Bruce Wayne to whom Oliver Queen was referring?
We'll leave it to the fans to debate the merits of Gotham being brought under the Arrowverse banner, as opposed to a new actor, and new take on Batman (as much as Arrow's stars may want Ben Affleck to reprise his role on TV). We already know that Stephen Amell has his Batman in mind, but the future of Affleck's time as Batman on film could be the deciding factor for DC and its partners.
The hardest part is already over: Bruce Wayne is alive and rich in the Arrowverse. The excitement around that reveal may be the last push the showrunners and DC need to follow through with the Dark Knight himself. If DC Films is taking a 'more the merrier' attitude towards fan demand for its most beloved characters... is there any reason NOT to try it? If there is, be sure and let us know in the comments.