So far, we don't know much about Batman's first solo movie in the DCEU other than Ben Affleck is directing and writing it, that Deathstroke is the main baddie, and that we should expect it in the next year and a half. It's strange that for a movie about one of the most popular characters in mainstream media that's this close to release, we hadn't gotten an official title until today.
During an interview for his movie, The Accountant, Ben Affleck talked about Batman's upcoming solo adventure and finally revealed the title for the film:
This is what he said:
"The movie, I think is gonna be called 'The Batman'. At least that's what we're going with now. I might change it. Like, that's about it right now, that's all I got. We're working on the script, the script is going well, I've been really excited about it."
What Does 'The Batman' Title Mean For The Movie?
We live in an era where dozens of superhero movies have been released, and lots of them are dedicated to the same character. Because of that, filmmakers are often forced to look for different titles for various installments. As an example, we have the Spider-Man franchise. Since 2002, we haven't had a movie simply titled Spider-Man. We've gone from numbered titles to putting "The Amazing" and "Homecoming" before and after the name of the web-crawler.
This is the case with Batman; he hasn't had a movie just titled Batman since 1989. We've had Returns, Forever, & Robin, Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises but never just a Batman since Tim Burton's film. With that, it's easy to assume that the "The" at the start of this new movie's title is because of the filmmakers running out of ideas but... what if The Batman holds a deeper meaning?
When Batman was first introduced, he was a considerably much darker character. During that time period, the Caped Crusader was known as "The Batman." In his early issues, Batman was a ruthless vigilante who murdered his enemies without hesitation and even used a gun. He just wanted to take down the men poisoning his city. Take a look at his very first issue, Detective Comics #27.
In Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, the Caped Crusader was presented as a very dark and deeply disturbed character who murdered his enemies in... let's just say extreme ways. This Bruce Wayne has been in the crime-fighting game for two decades and is scarred by the brutality he's experienced. The portrayal was very close to the Batman presented in his early comic book days. So, what if The Batman isn't just to distance the movie from previous installments in the franchise but to signify Batman will undergo a darker journey?
At the beginning of BvS, we saw Batman escaping from the police after torturing a criminal; the camera work presented him as sinister, a creature who crawled on the ceiling like a monster. This new title could mean that this movie will finally, fully embrace the scary side of Batman perfectly presented in that scene. He's a myth, a warning, and he likes to be seen that way. He isn't trying to be a beacon of hope for his city, he is just trying to clean up the people that corrupt it, and to do that, he must be feared by the ones he hunts.
The Title Could Mean A Darker Tone Similar To 'The Wolverine'
Wolverine is a grim and violent character. But because of his popularity with general audiences, the movies couldn't get too much into the specifics of what made the mutant's stories traditionally preferable for an older audience. After X-Men Origins: Wolverine, though, the three-clawed mutant sorely needed a reinvention. This came in the form of the sequel, directed by James Mangold, titled The Wolverine.
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The movie explored a much darker side of Logan that previous movies hadn't touched upon. It wasn't accomplished with blood spilling out of someone's body every five seconds but with the atmosphere that made evident the more adult direction in which the beloved character was going.
This could be the same for Ben Affleck's The Batman. Batman V Superman gave us an unhinged Batman, one that fought like a caged beast and didn't show mercy for his enemies. We got a sense of the world this new interpretation of Bruce Wayne lived in and what he had gone through. This is a much grittier version of the character than others we've seen on the big screen:
A solo film for this version of the character is a golden opportunity to fully explore these aspects. The DCEU hasn't been afraid to give us "edgy" versions of its characters, such as Jared Leto's Joker, who's a full-on, twisted mob boss. So, the "The" in the title could signify a liberation to delve into what makes people know Batman as one of the darkest characters in printed form, who deals with incredibly twisted individuals instead of a superhero with a cool costume and gadgets.
The Title Transforms Batman From A Man To An Urban Legend
When Christopher Nolan was working on his third and final Batman movie, which would ultimately be known as The Dark Knight Rises, rumors were swirling around about the film being titled The Batman. When rumored titles pop up, they're usually partly true, as they might have been considered but never used. We know Rises dealt with Batman rising from the proverbial ashes and freeing himself from the fear of embracing who he was to become the hero Gotham City needed.
With this solo film, "The Batman" fits perfectly: It can mean someone finally embracing who he really is. In this case, it was Bruce Wayne accepting the dark side of his personality that craved the opportunity to act against the corruption and violence in his city.
"The" implies a mythical creature, as well. We use it to refer to things we don't know about, most notably the thing things that scare us — for example, "The Boogeyman." With how the DCEU is tackling the Dark Knight, this title interpretation seems to be the one WB and Ben Affleck are using for their movie, which fits perfectly with the obvious parallels between Affleck's version and the very first Batman: Criminals were scared of him, they saw him as a thing to be feared. "Batman" is a man. But "THE Batman" is a myth, a terrifying urban legend.
The DCEU has occasionally been criticized for favoring darker storylines, but that's not the problem. The real problem is how the filmmakers are tackling the stories set in that tone. There's nothing bad about having a movie explore dark themes; the thing is how you handle them. The characters, the storyline, and the setting need to merge together well. When those aspects flow together it makes any tone feel right for the storyline you are tackling. Hopefully, with the new meaning The Batman is implying, we'll get a great solo film for the Dark Knight with the approach he needs.