For a while there, it looked like Warner Bros. had finally got their sprawling and beleaguered #DCEU under control. But just like superheroes who can't stay dead for long, it seems the shared universe is fated to never have a moment's peace, as Warner make plans to fracture their cinematic continuity before it's even really begun. Yesterday, The Batman director Matt Reeves described his movie as a "standalone," suggesting that it won't be part of the DCEU. Here's what he told KCRW:
"Well, I have a vision for a way to do something with that character that feels like it resonates with me personally, and a perspective that can grow out into other things. When [Warner Bros.] approached me, what they said was 'look, it’s a standalone, it’s not part of the extended universe.'"
As we all know, The Batman has been plagued with more problems than Gotham City when the Joker's on a crime spree. First Ben Affleck was directing, then he wasn't, then his script was rewritten as War For The Planet Of The Apes director Matt Reeves was brought on board. The release date was pushed back and the main villain apparently axed — and now we're left wondering if Affleck has left the project altogether, leaving the Dark Knight's cowl to be picked up by another.
Has Affleck Left The Batman?
It seems ludicrous for the DCEU to banish its biggest hero from the main canon, so there's just one real reason why Warner would choose to set The Batman aside from Batman v Superman, Justice League, and subsequent movies — and that's to accommodate Ben Affleck's departure.
[Updated 08/25/17] After everyone went batshit over this comment, Matt Reeves took to Twitter to clear things up. However, he said nothing of Ben Affleck's role in the movie:
So although this Tweet implies that The Batman will be part of the DCEU, there are other reports that Affleck may step down — though admittedly, this would be difficult for audiences to accept if The Batman is in the DCEU continuity.
Affleck has been rumored to step down from the role of Batman for several months. In fact, these rumors got so pervasive that fans at SDCC even asked the actor directly if he was intending to stay in the role — and his response, praising the character and the movies, did not answer the question one way or the other. Since then, Affleck's brother Casey has told WEEI Sports Radio that he was unsure if Ben would continue playing the Caped Crusader:
"He’s not going to do that movie, I don’t think. Sorry to say. Is that breaking news? Because I was just kind of making that up, I don’t know."
Again, his remark was accompanied with vagaries, quickly joking that he was "kind of making that up." Then there's this deleted paragraph included in The Hollywood Reporter's article on the new Joker And Harley movie:
"The new line, or possibly label, will allow for the making of movies that will stand apart and separate from those big-budget tentpoles. Matt Reeves’ 'The Batman', for example, is intended to not be connected to the Justice League universe but to be set in a different time period and star another actor."
Although this was later retracted, it did conspicuously coincide with both the report about The Batman being a standalone, and Casey Affleck's comments about his brother departing the project.
The Batman Is Not Outside DCEU Canon
Now, of course, we know that Reeves misspoke, and that Warner Bros. do intend The Batman to be part of the main DCEU continuity. Instead, the director was seeking to correct his previous revelation that The Batman would be the first of a trilogy.
When the DCEU began, the chiefs made it clear that the plans of Warner Bros. are different from that of the MCU: Instead of each solo movie being part of its own three+ movie franchise, the solo DCEU flicks (like Batman v Superman and Wonder Woman) were to be merely chapters in a wider story. Of course, this has since gone out the window, with Wonder Woman and Suicide Squad both getting sequels. But it seems that Warner and Reeves are hoping to return to the one-chapter format with The Batman, instead of using it as a jumping off point for never-ending sequels.
The confusion about what Reeves meant by "standalone" seems to stem from two things. Firstly, the director's comments about "not being in the extended universe" (which was a huge blunder on Reeves' part), and the fact that this news coincided with a report that Warner are making a Joker origin movie which will be set firmly outside the DCEU, and won't star Jared Leto. Naturally, when the quote from Reeves surfaced, we all thought The Batman would be made in the same alternate universe-vein as this Joker origin film — which, by the way, has not been confirmed by Warner Bros. reps.
Tell us in the comments: Would you like to see Elseworlds alternate universe anthology movies apart from the DCEU?