The DC Extended Universe is currently in flux due to the underperformance of Justice League, and it seems Ben Affleck’s reign as Batman might be ending already – meaning now could be the perfect time for a Batman Beyond movie.
Superhero cinema’s move into shared universe has yielded mixed results. When Marvel first announced plans for a connected movie universe featuring B-list characters like Iron Man and Thor, conventional Hollywood wisdom deemed it an insane experiment doomed to failure. Cut to a decade later and every studio wants their own cinematic universe and they’ve all tried – unfortunately with varying levels of success. Given DC’s rich catalog of superheroes, it was only a matter of time before they attempted one of their own, which they truly kicked off with Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Man of Steel was designed very standalone). A movie uniting two of the most iconic comic book characters of all time – in addition to introducing Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman – should have easily earned it a billion in box office revenue worldwide, but the movie’s dark tone and divisive word of mouth saw it fall short of that goal.
Outside of Patty Jenkin’s Wonder Woman, the DCEU’s movie output has drawn mixed reactions, and Justice League’s critical and commercial reception has only highlighted the need for course correction. There’s new leadership at DC Films and for a long time there have been suggestions of a new, Elseworlds-style banner: this would be where Scorsese’s Joker movie would reside, along with – at least according to some rumors – Matt Reeves’ Batman outing.
The Batman has had a turbulent journey already, with Affleck slowly relinquishing control – Reeves took over last year – and now reports suggesting he’s eager to leave the role entirely. Considering a recast is likely and Reeves by all accounts is leaning towards a clean slate for his solo adventure, they should go all in: they should go Beyond Bruce Wayne.
What Is Batman Beyond? (This Page)
What Exactly Is Batman Beyond?
Batman Beyond is a direct sequel to the classic Batman: The Animated Series, taking place around forty years in the future. The show opens on Bruce Wayne’s last night as Batman, where due to a combination of his age and being outnumbered, he’s forced to use a gun to defend himself. After this oath-breaking moment, Bruce hangs up the cowl for good, leaving Gotham without Batman. Twenty years later, a teenager named Terry McGinnis accidentally discovers Bruce’s secret, and after his father is murdered by a powerful businessman, Terry takes over the role.
The series came about due to executives wanting to create a teenage Batman to appeal to the Buffy The Vampire Slayer audience. Despite this dubious jumping off point, the creative team – including Batman: TAS mainstays Bruce Timm and Paul Dini – felt there was potential in the concept; the futuristic setting allowed them to incorporate cyberpunk elements and give Gotham a complete Akira-like redesign. Making Terry a teenager also let the writers explore themes like bullying, depression and the future impact of technology on society, making it feel edger than the average children’s cartoon.
What could have been a short-lived cash grab is now considered an excellent series in its own right and the show holds a special place for those who saw it during its initial run. Warner Bros’ even mulled over a Batman Beyond live-action movie in 2000 when they were deciding how to move forward with the franchise. A script was written and Boaz Yakin (Max) was hired to direct, but it was scrapped in favour of Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins – a decision that’s hard to fault on reflection. But could we still see it on the big screen.
Page 2 of 2: Why Now Is The Time For A Batman Beyond Movie
Why Now Is The Time For A Batman Beyond Movie
Things will undoubtedly change in the DC movie slate following the response to Justice League. Like Batman v Superman, that’s another project that should have performed much healthier, but its final gross of just over $650 million – on a reported budget of $300 million – is a sign that audiences aren’t totally connecting with the current vision. Considering reports suggesting Warner Bros. will be moving away from interconnected tales towards standalone movies even aside from Elseworlds and Affleck’s current Schrödinger-like attachment to Batman, it’s no surprise solid plans for the character’s next outing have yet to emerge.
If Matt Reeves and WB truly want a fresh start, then Batman Beyond could be their answer. It gives them a chance to tackle a new take on the mythos on the big screen, setting it apart from all previous live-action versions. Futuristic superhero movies are also a rarity, giving Reeves a fresh visual palette to work from. The source material is rock solid, with Terry McGinnis making for a likable, flawed hero. While some fans may balk at the idea of a teenage Batman and all the angst that implies, it’s a unique angle to approach the character from. Reeves has shown with his Apes sequels he’s more interested in character than gratuitous action setpieces, and while he’ll doubtless find a way into Bruce Wayne’s psyche with his Batman movie, it feels like the character’s various traumas have been thoroughly mined in past movies. Batman Beyond presents the opportunity for reinvention; a new hero, setting and villains.
There’s a lot of options here. While the notion goes slightly against the “clean slate” idea, an enterprising executive could suggest making it a legacyquel and bring Michael Keaton back as elderly Bruce Wayne; not only would fans lap up Keaton’s return, it would be a meta-statement in itself, with the original big-screen Batman figuratively passing the torch to a new generation. Or, if they did want to keep in the DCEU, it would still be possible for an even older Affleck to play a small role.
How Likely Is A Batman Beyond Movie?
DC has announced a bewildering amount of potential movies the last couple of years, from David Ayer’s Gotham City Sirens to Joss Whedon’s Batgirl. Word on a number of these movies has grown quiet recently, and its likely many of them will be halted while the company considers their next move. At this point, the locks are Aquaman, Shazam!, and Wonder Woman 2, with Suicide Squad 2 pretty much set too, and with or without Affleck a solo Batman movie will happen eventually.
Little is known about what it will look like, other than Reeves’ take will be different to what we’ve got recently. If WB wants to kick off a series of elsewhere style movies unchained from their current shared universe, Batman Beyond is the perfect way to kick one off, presenting audiences with an iconic hero in a brand new light.
Sadly there are no signs DC is considering this approach, and while the Batman Beyond universe is going strong in comic form, it seems to be considered more of a cult item now. But Reeves has shown himself capable of both thoughtful blockbusters and dramas and would be an ideal choice to be the first to step outside the current DC Extended Universe formula. The opportunity is there – if Warner Bros. is brave enough to take the chance.
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