Matt Reeves’ New TV Series and the Future of Batman

Recently, I wrote about the rumoured return of Michael Keaton in the role of Batman. Having starred in two films in the late eighties and early nineties, Keaton’s Batman in many ways helped start the superhero boom of cinema, and his portrayal of the caped crusader is still considered by some to be the best.

Since then, we saw Val Kilmer and George Clooney take over as Bruce Wayne, continuing Keaton and director Tim Burton’s series of films. Some years later, the property was handed over to director Christopher Nolan, and Christian Bale became the actor to don the cowl in a trilogy of films that took things more seriously and delivered a self-contained Batman story.

More recently, the mantle was passed to Ben Affleck, who, as I said previously, is my personal favourite. Affleck’s Batman shared the scene with other big DC superheroes, but unfortunately the results were less than spectacular.

Now, Robert Pattinson is the man behind the bat (alongside, supposedly, Keaton) and a new report regarding director Matt Reeves and a spin-off show on HBO Max indicates that his tenure as Gotham’s greatest hero will be a much bigger deal than we previously thought.

As announced yesterday, on top of the Pattinson-starring The Batman, due to be released in 2022, director Matt Reeves will also be developing a spin-off TV shows set in the same universe as the film.

The Gotham Central comics, by Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka
The Gotham Central comics, by Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka

Alongside Matt Reeves, the show will be executive produced and written by Terence Winter, famed for his work on Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos and The Wolf on Wall Street.

“Set in the world Reeves is creating for The Batman feature film and will build upon the motion picture’s examination of the anatomy of corruption in Gotham City, ultimately launching a new Batman universe across multiple platforms. The series provides an unprecedented opportunity to extend the world established in the movie and further explore the myriad of compelling and complex characters of Gotham.”

Since that initial reveal, Justin Kroll of Variety has added a tidbit about when he believes the show will be set:

This is all very interesting news for Bat-fans, but the various waves of information regarding the future of Batman in film have been a bit of a rollercoaster for me, personally.

As I’ve previously stated, Ben Affleck has been my personal favourite depiction of Batman in live-action. I like his Bruce Wayne. I like his Batman. I like the costume, the setting, the Batmobile, Jeremy Iron’s Alfred and most of all where he’s at in his career. A caveat though, is that I’m not overwhelmingly positive by the context that Zack Snyder and particularly Chris Terrio placed around it all.

We’ve seen a lot of Batman on screen. We’ve also seen a fair bit of Batman and Robin, and even a touch of Batgirl… But we’ve rarely had much time to move beyond that. Which is weird, because a lot of the biggest Batman stories are set in a post-Robin Batman world. A time when Dick Grayson – the original Robin – has moved on to become his own superhero, and other young heroes have risen to take up his old mantle. A time when the Bat-family has expanded to include various other members: Nightwing, Batgirl, Red Hood, Red Robin, Damian Wayne, Spoiler, Cassandra Cain and Batwoman, among many many more.

In fact, it’s been so long since Batman has truly, continually opperated by himself, and yet that’s always the default take on the character that adaptations go for.

In Snyder’s universe, we got close to seeing a Batman not unlike the one that has dominated DC comics for decades now. Like the comic-book Batman, he had seen tragedy strike again and again, as indicated by Robin’s murder by the Joker and Harley Quinn. Which means, assuming Ben Affleck or Matt Reeves had named that Robin as Jason Todd, and plans for a Nightwing movie by Chris McKay (The LEGO Batman Movie) and the now Joss Whedon-less Batgirl had gone ahead, then we would have started to see Batman’s non-Justice League network realised in a live action universe.

Last time I spoke on this, I bemoaned the fact that Ben Affleck wouldn’t be returning to make this a reality. In truth though, I realise that for his sake, this is for the best. Affleck had a rough go of his time as Batman, and now that his life is definitively Bat-free, he seems to be moving on to greener pastures. Good for him.

Which brings me back to Robert Pattinson. I’ve not seen many of his non-Twilight films, but I’ve always been aware that the movies he does make are generally of a higher caliber than those that made him famous. I was confident that he would be an admirable successor to Affleck, and was keen to see what he would do and how he would integrate into the larger DC universe (to be honest with you though I also had high hopes for Jared Leto’s Joker).

Then came the news that his and Reeve’s Batman trilogy would probably be off in it’s own little universe.

Then came the news that it would once again be examining Batman’s earlier years (many claim it to be his second year in the cowl, to be exact).

Urgh.

While this is all, to my knowledge, unsubstantiated rumours for the moment, it’s probably true.

Which is fine, of course – many will appreciate that. Personally though, as I’m sure you’ve gathered, I’d love to see a good movie (which I’m sure he and Reeves will make) with a more experienced Batman. Because up til now, all the good Batman movies have focused on him as a solo figure, generally in his early years, if not just a nonspecific point in his career.

You could argue that The Dark Knight Rises took place around ten years after Batman Begins, but then you also have to acknowledge that he was retired for eight of those years – so hardly the experienced Batman depicted in the comics that I crave.

But the news of this series has given me hope. Obviously, the way this has all been pitched suggests that’s it’s more about police officers and their dealings with crime in the city, but the fact they stress that this will build up the world of The Batman gives me hope that it could be used to develop other heroic characters.

For instance, if Jeffrey Wright makes frequent appearances in the show, then it’s likely that we’ll see his daughter Barbara – she could be developed as a character up to the point she’s ready to jump into Pattinson’s films or even her own spin-off as Batgirl.

This show could a springboard for a wealth of new characters that previously producers didn’t want to risk throwing into the movies without testing the waters first.

And through that, Pattinson’s Batman could eventually surround himself with a network of other heroes – Robin, Batgirl, Nightwing, Azrael. Suddenly the early years thing doesn’t seem so limiting (again, I’m sure they will be wonderful movies, but frankly I’m just not as excited about a learning the ropes Batman as I am an experienced one), and means that if they’re willing to really put the money into this sub-franchise, we could truly end up seeing not just the best Batman and Batman movies, but the best Gotham City, with all it’s weird and wonderful inhabitants, yet.

Or, of course, none of this could happen, and I’m reading too much into it and no one but me wants all these things. I don’t honestly believe this show will lead to all of this. But it’s fun to speculate.

Thanks for reading! What do you think? Do you want to see the start of the Bat-family, or should Batman always go it alone? What sort of Batman are eager to see? Let me know in the comments, below!

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