When you think of DC Comics, what comes to mind? Is it the red blur of Superman’s cape? Wonder Woman’s golden Lasso of Truth? For many, it’s the dour brooding crusader donned in black and grey. The scourge of the criminal underworld and the caped crusader of Gotham. We’re of course talking about the Dark Knight, Batman.

At the end of Christopher Nolan’s excellent “The Dark Knight Trilogy”, fans were clamouring for a new cinematic embodiment of Batman. In 2016, the world was introduced to a much more grizzled and brasher Bruce Wayne played by Ben Affleck. One who wasn’t afraid to kill or incinerate people with his Bat-plane. For the longest time, we all thought Batfleck would be here to stay… until Affleck left the role.

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We then heard that director Matt Reeves was doing his own rendition of Batman with Robert Pattinson taking on the mantle. However, his version of the character may, or may not, be in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU)? Oh but the drama doesn’t stop there. Now, we’re hearing reports that Batfleck will be returning for Warner’s Bros “The Flash” film and that Michael Keaton, playing alternate universe Batman, will also be joining him. Keaton, who played Bruce Wayne in 1989’s “Batman” will be playing an older version of the character.

Guys, what the hell is going on here?

The Problem

Batman holds a special place in comic-book film fandom, but should be used sparingly. The character’s great by himself and he adds an interesting element in ensemble films. Put him in too many places, though, and he begins to lose his mystique. The worst thing you can do to the character’s legacy is to over-saturate his media presence. Something that Warner Bros apparently understood, at least when it comes to his representation on TV. Ever noticed in shows like “Gotham”, “Titans” and “Batwoman” that we rarely see Batman in full form? We might see some version of Bruce Wayne, his shadow or maybe his suit but never the genuine article himself.

Source: Entertainment Weekly

“Arrow” showrunner Beth Schwartz informs us that when it comes to the Batman mythos, Warner Bros and DC are quite protective of the character. She’s more than welcomed to create shows revolving around characters in Batman’s peripheral but at no point will she be able to put her own spin on the Dark Knight. And she’s tried, multiple times. “Batwoman” producer Caroline Dries further corroborates this story as well. To be fair, Warner Bros does has a point.

Just like how having different actors playing Luke Skywalker in different TV shows would confuse the audience, the same goes with Batman. If you’re trying to create a cohesive cinematic universe, it makes sense to try to keep the character consistent. Which would be fine… if they could follow their own damn rules!

The problem with the DCEU is that they play with their canon too fast and too loose. They simply allow creators to do whatever they want with the DC property in standalone films. Safe for perhaps “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice”, “Justice League” and maybe “Suicide Squad”, none of the films are really connected. With the inclusion of alternate versions of the character existing in multiple worlds in “The Flash” film, this creates a major problem.

Multiple versions of the character may divide DCEU fanbase and render the character inaccessible to newcomers. This problem becomes even more apparent when you realise that both “The Batman” and “The Flash” are set to be released in 2022. Moviegoers will be seeing three different Batmen in the same year! That’s far too close a time span for these films to establish their own separate identities. The marketing for each film is going to be a nightmare with both films competing instead of working to set each other up. This is going to affect the Batman brand and make the DCEU look even more fragmented. That being said, there is a solution to this whole debacle.

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The Solution

At the current moment, there’s not much Warner Bros can do in terms of their film line-up. Both films will most likely be released in the same year. What’s interesting is that “The Batman” is scheduled to be released in March; earlier than November’s “The Flash”. This may provide enough time for the company to decide the fates of their individual Batmen. If Matt Reeves’ “The Batman” does not perform well (although we sincerely hope not), “The Flash” could simply relegate the events of the film as an insignificant story in some other alternate universe. One that has no bearings on the main DCEU timeline. Batfleck would return to being the one and only Batman with Keaton’s version merely being a fun one-time cameo. Problem solved.

As for “The Flash”, if the film is indeed an incoherent mess, there is a way out as well. The film’s producer Barbara Muschietti revealed at a DC Fandome panel that the film will in fact “restart” the DCEU. She cautioned by saying that it won’t necessarily erase everything established in the past. If “The Batman” is well received, then the events of “The Flash” could establish a reboot event that acknowledges Pattinson’s Batman as the official version within the new timeline while wiping out all other incarnations.

Source: Warner Bros

This isn’t a particularly new idea, seeing that DC Comics did the exact same thing in their “Flashpoint” comic book event. The story sees the Flash using the Speed Force to alter reality and change time. They essentially used the Flash to reboot their entire franchise. Hey, if it works in the comics, it can work in the DCEU as well. In any case, Flash is the key to solving this issue.

If you had to ask which Batman we prefer, we’d have to go with Robert Pattinson’s version. While Affleck’s Batman is a lot more physically imposing, too much of his characterisation feels out of step with tradition. Namely how he so blatantly murders people without a second thought. We feel Pattinson brings both new humanity to the caped crusader and “The Batman” will explore an aspect of the hero we’ve never seen before. His detective side.

So which Batman do you prefer? Do you think Batfleck should stay as the DCEU’s one and only Batman? Or do you prefer a younger, more down-to-earth one with Robert Pattinson? Maybe you’re hoping to see some version of Old Man Batman with Keaton. Be sure to let us know in the comments down below.

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In the roiling intertextual sea of garbage reboots, mediocre adaptations and cash-cow sequels, there is inspired cinema. I will find it.