Warning: This article contains potential SPOILERS for Titans
There may be a new actor playing Batman to get excited about, but he won't be seen in any movie just yet. Instead, he'll be featured on the Titans TV series exclusive to DC Universe - and from the looks of it, the actor is the same one many fans theorized had landed the part months ago.
In the first episodes of Titans it seemed possible for DC to avoid casting an actual actor to portray Batman or Bruce Wayne on screen. With Robin having moved on from Batman, recalling only flashes of his memories being adopted by Bruce Wayne, a stand-in seen only out of focus or silhouetted looked like an easy solution. But now that a far better glimpse of Bruce Wayne has been offered in Episode 3, our suspicions may have been proven true.
We think we know who has been cast as Bruce Wayne for the world of DC Universe shows - now fans must decide if our theory is correct.
- This Page: Yes, Lewis Tan is Likely Playing Batman on Titans
- Next Page: Does This Confirm Batman's Story in Titans?
This Shot of Batman May Confirm The Actor
Previous episodes of Titans have shown small moments, memories of Bruce most prominent in Dick Grayson's mind. First, it was only his hand placed on Dick's shoulder shortly after his parents were killed, telling the orphan that he wanted to "help" him. Next came glimpses of Bruce and Alfred discussing Dick's future in a distant room, and the shadowy outline of Bruce in one of Wayne Manor's windows - watching Dick speed off in a stolen Porsche. But finally in Episode 3, the camera puts Bruce into sharp focus... just not his face. Yet.
The shot we're referring to comes after Dick has met with his case worker, who informs Dick that his parents may have been murdered. Dick returns to her office a few times throughout the episode, with the last visit setting Dick up to actually start accepting a new life offered by Bruce Wayne. And at that shift, the camera flips to show Bruce himself, viewing the scene through a two-way mirror into the room.
At first glance, the idea of identifying the actor already playing Bruce Wayne based only on the back of his head may seem like a long shot. But then, we're not basing our educated guess on dumb luck. We're basing it on one actor's previous tease that they were bound for DC Universe in a Bat-tastic role.
That Sure Looks Like Lewis Tan as Bruce Wayne/Batman
For anyone who missed Lewis Tan (Iron Fist, Into the Badlands) and his online tease of a DC role, his appearance as Bruce Wayne may now seem somewhat... well, obvious. Tweeting out a post that confirmed Tan met with DC about a Batman related role, along with an image of him in the DC offices, stack of trade paperbacks under his arm was impossible to misinterpret. Even when Tan noted that it was Tim Burton's Batman movie that brought his father to Hollywood, and that he would come "full circle," the role in question wasn't clear.
Fans soon noted his martial arts prowess, which made waves when he appeared in a tiny role in Iron Fist (outshining the star for some viewers), and assumed that a role as Nightwing in the DCEU was the most likely candidate. But looking now at Tan's tagging of DC Universe specifically, and the fact that it really does look like Tan playing Bruce Wayne (we've made a comparison above based on his appearance in Hawaii Five-O), the simplest answer may have been the right one all along. Bringing it full circle to Batman for the DC Universe of shows? Tan has done just that, presumably from the very first episode.
Now, what does this mean for the size of Batman's role on Titans for the future? Well, it's time we take a closer look at the comics Tan was given as prep for his part - and what they imply about the version of Batman fans will be getting.
Page 2 of 2: Would Tan's Casting Reveal Batman's Story?
What This May Tell Us About Batman's Story on Titans
Right off the bat, the fact that DC cast an actor known for his martial arts prowess in the part of Bruce Wayne/Batman - and did so from the very start - means most of our early assumptions about the peripheral role the Dark Knight may have in this story. For starters, the belief that Alfred Pennyworth and Jason Todd's presence in Titans would help keep Batman out of the picture now seems flawed. Not only will Titans likely show past experiences with Robin and Batman, but ones in which Batman demonstrates his proficiency in combat - probably where Robin gets his brutally violent finishers from.
Beyond that, the trade paperbacks Lewis Tan is taking out of the DC offices likely offer even more clues. Unfortunately, the only one visible enough to be easily recognized is Batman by Ed Brubaker Vol.2. But that book alone may offer a HUGE clue to this treatment of Batman.
These days Ed Brubaker's work may be most associated with Marvel heroes like Daredevil and the Winter Soldier, having a large influence on the versions adapted to Marvel's Netflix and movie universes, respectively. But when writing the issues around Batman #600 - the ones contained in this trade - Brubaker's signature style of grim, existential, and all-consuming identity crisis (or clarity?) was well at work with Bruce Wayne. Accused of murder, Bruce escapes from prison, and refuses to plead his innocence to the rest of the Batman Family. When it becomes clear that Batman has decided to finally cast off his mask - that of "Bruce Wayne," his false face - and embrace his one and only purpose in life as the caped crusader, it's Dick Grayson (then Nightwing) who drives his fist into Bruce's face.
Instead of concern, Dick embraces his anger and betrayal, demanding to know if "Bruce Wayne" was nothing but a lie, then who was the man who raised him, and to whom he looked as a father figure? Refusing to follow Bruce down this new path, denying everything except his mission to fight crime, the premise begins with Bruce and Dick in a similar place to that of Titans.
Not to mention the scene in which Bruce realizes that every woman he loved ended up being pushed away, since there would always be an excuse for Bruce to remain distant. Immediately followed by Bruce remembering when Dick Grayson left for university, and a life of his own. The questions of family, friendship, dual identity, abandonment, rejection, and losing oneself to extremes are all a part of Brubaker's run, so it stands to reason that Lewis Tan's version of Bruce could embody those same issues - with help from Brenton Thwaites' Grayson, of course.
Would This Batman Be a Win For DC Universe?
Like every other actor cast as a version of Batman, Lewis Tan's casting - if it is him, as it appears to be - is guaranteed to stir up the DC fan base. In this case, largely because the overall plan for Batman in the DC Universe shows is a total mystery. Will he become a supporting character in Titans? Will his casting pave the way for recurring roles on a universe-wide level, stopping in on Swamp Thing, or Doom Patrol as well? We assume that those overseeing the streaming service have the answers, but the fact that Tan's casting - or anyone else's - has yet to be announced shows they're not ready to unveil the plan.
At this point, all we know is that a new version of Batman, with an accomplished martial artist in the role (and hopefully, the Batsuit) is something fans will need to see for themselves. Whether a draw like Batman was always in the cards to help boost DC Universe subscribers, or was, and is being kept as a back-up plan remains to be seen. The same goes for Tan's approach to this seriously iconic role. Two iconic roles, actually.
Assuming our theory is right, and Lewis Tan really is DC's newest Batman, that is. Which DC will hopefully confirm or deny sooner, rather than later.
Titans releases new episodes on Fridays through DC Universe, streamed to Netflix in international territories soon after.