Is Warner Bros. Stepping Back From The DC Extended Movie Universe?


Is Warner Bros. starting to shy away from including all their DC superhero films in an interconnected extended universe? The Batman director Matt Reeves has been quoted as saying that his film would be a “standalone”—outside the continuity of the current Superman/Batman/Justice League franchise.

Caveat time: the info from this article from The Wrap is based off an interview Reeves did with a radio show last month. Reeves 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 they [Warner Bros.] approached me, what they said was ‘look, it’s a standalone, it’s not part of the extended universe.'”

Why are his remarks getting dug up now and spotlighted? Two reasons, both speculation on my part. First, to bask in the buzz of the recently-announced Joker standalone movie.

Second—and I realize this is tin-hat territory here—maybe it’s because Warner Bros., wants to quietly start “detaching” in the mind of the public this upcoming project from Justice League.

Think about it: why would the WB suddenly “push” their new “standalone” DC movie banner—of which the Joker film would be a part—in media outlets like Deadline when there is a major franchise movie coming out in September that is supposed to be part of this tight Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman/Justice League movie continuity?

There’s the fact that the director who stepped in for Zack Snyder on Justice League (following the tragic death of Snyder’s daughter) is Joss Whedon—who doesn’t seem to be in the best position to do a press junket right now.

Then there is the troubled background of The Batman itself—its star Ben Affleck suddenly stepping back from directing duties, and his own possible departure from the film continually rumored and then denied (to be rumored again).

And let us not forget the fact that through The CW, a few of the DC characters featured in Justice League (notably, The Flash, but even Superman in his popular cameo in Supergirl) have already been established with completely different actors—creating a confusing situation for fans as well as marketers.

Loosening up the whole “integrated continuity” thing within the Warner Bros. DC films would help that “CW problem”—as well as maybe go in a completely different direction with that troubled new Batman movie and strike upon something unexpectedly fresh and successful. I mean, Man of Steel got lukewarm reviews, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice got worse reviews, and maybe it’s time to stop investing so much money in this.

Where would that leave probably the most successful of all the current “continuity” DCU movies, Wonder Woman? Arguably, this is a film that really didn’t need the help of a “lead in” film before it (I mean, how much of its success was based on the character’s appearance in the panned Batman v. Superman?), and will probably be OK without the help of more tie-in films (outside November’s Justice League) in the future.

And pulling The Batman out of the current extended universe doesn’t even mean more Justice League films can’t be made. But maybe it just means…they can try another person out as Batman. Or try to showcase Affleck in a different way. Or…something.

It’s not the “end” of the extended universe, per se. It’s just opening the pool to more interesting and divergent ideas. And maybe if Warner Bros. is successful…this trend of maintaining a tight movie universe continuity within franchise films might loosen as well.