DC Studios CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran are currently mapping out their franchise reboot, which has fans wondering how a character like Batman - who has already seen many iterations on-screen - will be handled this time around.
Gunn has already confirmed that the Man of Steel will be rebooted with a new movie taking place at "an earlier part of Superman's life." Obviously, this points toward a full reset of the franchise, while separate reports have claimed the rest of the Justice League, including Ben Affleck's Batman, may be recast too.
This has many wondering how Gunn's DCU will handle the Dark Knight - after all, Batman has just seen a fresh reboot starring Robert Pattinson in a standalone realistic Gotham universe. Well, the latest update has made that problem only more apparent, but how will DC Studios resolve this conundrum?
DCU Update Reveals Its Huge Batman Dilemma
Following the announcement of a Superman reboot led by a younger actor, DC Studios CEO James Gunn has offered an update on Batman's future in the new universe as he promised the Dark Knight will be "a big part of the DCU."
Gunn also recently responded to a report from Variety which claimed he and co-CEO Peter Safran were considering implementing Robert Pattinson's Batman into the new DCU, which he shut down as "entirely untrue."
As these updates leave a great deal of confusion with regard to how the DCU will handle Batman without treading on the toes of The Batman universe, here are four potential solutions to arguably Gunn's toughest problem.
A Fresh Start
With Gunn seeking a younger Superman, one can only imagine that will go hand-in-hand with a more youthful Batman to create a cohesive Justice League. But with The Batman already exploring that angle, with Pattinson's Bruce Wayne said to be around 30 years old, with the actor himself being just 36 currently.
Naturally, Gunn will not want to overlap too closely with what Matt Reeves will be doing with his own Gotham, as that would only confuse audiences. So, one route would be to cast another younger actor in their 30s to early 40s, but set the franchise in the prime of Batman's career instead of his early years.
Perhaps this Batman could even have already been fighting side-by-side with one of the versions of Robin. After all, the tale of the Batman family would take far too many years of storytelling to ever realistically tell in live-action, so what better way to ensure all these characters get explored than to join the story mid-way through?
The Batfleck Approach
Alternatively, in order to differentiate from Pattinson's early career Dark Knight, Gunn could take the Batfleck approach with a slightly older take. With the new DCU seemingly being a reboot of the old DCEU, Ben Affleck likely wouldn't be the actor under the cowl, but perhaps a direction similar to his could be taken.
Then again, while this may differentiate the DCU Batman from that of The Batman franchise, this could create an entirely separate problem. If the new Dark Knight were to come across as too similar to Affleck's, some may perceive this as a recasting of the hero in the same world, as opposed to a whole new character.
Battinson Expands His World
Of course, based on what James Gunn has said so far, bringing Robert Pattinson's Batman into the rebooted DCU doesn't seem to be on the table. After the DC Studios CEO dismissed reports that the idea was being mulled over as "entirely untrue," all signs indicate that Matt Reeves' Gotham will continue to be separate.
However, just because that isn't currently part of the vision for the new DCU, that doesn't mean plans can't change down the line. After all, the thought of having multiple, likely younger, iterations of Batman on-screen at once in separate franchises could prove confusing for general audiences.
This would also help to deliver on a promise from Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav to reduce the current live-action Batman count. With the goal behind hiring Gunn and Safran being to create a cohesive franchise under their leadership, this would just be one way to avoid creating yet another new world.
I Can't Believe It's Not Bruce Wayne
Perhaps the least likely option, but one that would certainly differentiate the next Batman from any other would be to put a character other than Bruce Wayne under the suit. After all, other characters have donned the mantle at various points in DC history including Terry McGinnis, Dick Grayson, and generally most of the Robins.
Before the regime change, a Michael Keaton Batman Beyond movie, that likely would have featured McGinnis as the primary Batman, was in the works. However, after Gunn and Safran took over, that project was swiftly canceled, indicating that isn't the direction they are looking to take the Justice League hero.
How Should James Gunn Resolve His Batman Problem
No matter what route James Gunn should choose to take the DCU's Batman, separating him from Robert Pattinson's franchise in the eyes of the audience will always be a tough task. But there are a few steps he could take to minimize the confusion and allow these characters to operate side-by-side.
First and foremost, this Dark Knight should lean into the more comic-booky and fantastical elements of the mythos to separate from the realism of The Batman. Meanwhile, another significant step would be to cast an actor who looks drastically dissimilar to Pattinson, perhaps even going as far as to race-swap the character.
Differentiating the format of storytelling could also help with this process, as having two separate sets of Batman movies would undoubtedly be confusing. Perhaps this new Dark Knight could have his story told either in an HBO Max series or simply through appearances in other projects.
All of these areas for potential confusion ultimately make clear why having Pattinson simply serve as the DCU's Batman would be the simplest solution. His early career Dark Knight would match up well with the younger Superman that Gunn has already described, placing the World's Finest at similar points in life.
James Gunn and Peter Safran will be revealing the first "few" projects in the new DCU reboot in January 2023. For now, there has been no indication of whether the plans for Batman will be part of this initial slate reveal.