Batman is easily one of the most beloved heroes in the vast collection of DC Comics characters, right next to Superman. So, it’s not surprising that there is a handful of different actors portraying their own unique versions of the dark knight.
First, there’s Ben Affleck’s take on the Caped Crusader, who debuted in Batman v. Superman. His more brutal and rugged Bruce Wayne perfectly fit the darker world of Zack Snyder’s films.
The most recent take on the character is Robert Pattinson’s Batman, who brought to life Matt Reeves’ vision for the character, completely separate from the interconnected DCU.
Additionally, fans will have the return of Michael Keaton’s original Dark Knight to look forward to in next year’s The Flash. Then, there’s Iain Glen in Titans, though he’s generally never in the Batsuit on screen.
Needless to say, that’s a lot of different takes on Batman—something that Warner Bros. hopes to cut down on.
Warner Bros. Cutting Down on DCU's Batman Count
While talking at a discussion hosted by RBC, via The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav offered some comments regarding the high count of Batman currently in play within the DCU.
The CEO noted how part of their upcoming strategy "is [to] drive the hell out of DC," something that will bring "growth and opportunity" to the brand. He even promised that "there's not going to be four Batmans:"
“I think over the next few years, you’re going to see a lot of growth and opportunity around DC, there’s not going to be four Batmans... And so part of our strategy is [to] drive the hell out of DC, which James and Peter are going to do. I think they’ve thrilled the fans. I think they’re going to thrill you over a period of time.”
Currently, there are four actors playing different versions of Batman active in the DCU: Michael Keaton, Ben Affleck, Robert Pattinson, and Iain Glen (from Titans).
Zaslav also revealed that DCU leaders James Gunn and Peter Safran are "coming close to the end" of finishing a bible for DC—which is a term referring to a roadmap for the brand's cinematic endeavors.
Limiting Batman in the DCU
So what does this sentiment from Zaslav mean?
Well, for one, it likely means that TV versions of the character will be limited from this point on—as he was only a few years ago.
When it comes to the movie side of things, cutting down on all of that might be easier said than done.
At one point, it was reported that Ben Affleck was done with his role of Batman after his upcoming appearances in The Flash and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. However, that's come into question after the big regime change at Warner Bros., with signs indicating the actor had returned to film more scenes.
The future of Michael Keaton's return as Batman also remains a mystery. Currently, his return in next year's The Flash remains the same—so any shift in plans for that character wouldn't be seen until after the Ezra Miller project has been released.
Robert Pattinson's Bruce Wayne looks to be safe. All of the higher-ups at WB have spoken highly of Matt Reeves and the world he's creating, so it would be quite the twist for them to suddenly turn against it—especially seeing as two different HBO Max spinoff shows are in active development.
Needless to say, the Batman situation in live-action is a little messy. However, it's also hard to imagine new DCU leads James Gunn and Peter Safran don't have their own version of the Dark Knight that they want to see on screen.
Could fans be in for a big surprise? Might all of the current adaptations be phased out in favor of a singular Caped Crusader going forward?
Only time will tell.
The Flash hits theaters on June 13, 2023.