Between the news that Warner Bros. plans to launch a series of films set outside the continuity of the DC Extended Universe, starting with a Joker origin story, and director Matt Reeves stating that The Batman is “not part of the extended universe,” it may be safe to conclude the studio is taking a truly comic book approach to its superheroes and supervillains.
The Joker film is an obvious bid to launch an Elseworlds-style cinematic universe, in which familiar concepts are remixed to fit different visions, with no links to previous or future continuity. Reeves’ statement, made a month before the Joker news broke, most likely doesn’t mean Ben Affleck will play Batman in two separate continuities so much as, like in the comics, the vigilante’s solo adventures will not affect — or be affected by — other events in the DCEU. In short, don’t expect The Flash to show up in Gotham City with an update on Darkseid’s plan, even though the odds are the Batman who appears in his own solo film will be the same one who battled Superman, befriended Wonder Woman and recruited the League.
With DC Entertainment President & Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns more fully steering the DCEU, and with the success seen with the company’s television properties, both with series that hew close to the source material (The CW’s Arrowverse) and those that stray from the comics, yet still maintain the same flavor (Gotham, iZombie, Lucifer and Preacher), it make sense that Warner Bros. Pictures would want to follow a similar path. While the DCTV shows regularly feature crossovers, the majority of what takes place in The Flash has little to no direct impact on Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow or Supergirl. Rather than making the shows weaker, or more confusing, deliberately leaving the series largely independent of each other makes the the smaller crossover more fun and the larger events more meaningful.
We’re seeing a glimmer of that approach creeping into the movies already — or at least in the DC Films projects Warner Bros. has revealed in recent months. In addition to the previously announced movies, which essentially make up a Justice League family, we’ve got multiple Gotham City-based heroes poised for their own adventures. Essentially launched in 2016 by Suicide Squad, the Bat-family umbrella will introduce a number of Batman’s enemies and allies to the DCEU, presumably having their own adventures, unencumbered by servicing storyline fallout from the Justice League’s feature debut.
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