It’s hard to pin down exactly what to expect from THE BATMAN film. Who’s the villain going to be? Is Ben Affleck going to be Batman? Or someone else? What about the plot? Let’s look at the news and rumors we have to speculate about the upcoming film.

What We Can Expect From The DCEU’s Future

A Quick Recap On the Director Status

When THE BATMAN solo film was first announced, current Batman actor Ben Affleck was set to write, direct, and star in the film. However, as time progressed Ben Affleck determined that he would not be writing nor directing. This most likely is the result of the poor reception to BATMAN v. SUPERMAN as well as the rumors that his ideas were clashing with execs at Warner Bros.

Warner Bros. then announced that Matt Reeves would take over as director. Most popular for his work on the revived PLANET OF APES franchise, Reeves is taking a completely fresh start, writing a new story as opposed to picking up the story that Affleck had begun to write.

It’s also rumored that Reeves is looking to create a whole trilogy THE BATMAN films. It’s said that his approach would be a noir-genre type, where Bruce Wayne’s prowess as the World’s Greatest Detective is highlighted.

Penguin: The Potential Villain

The biggest and most recent rumor is that Reeves’ top pick for the film’s villain would be Oswald Cobblepot, The Penguin. Cobblepot is a notorious crime boss in Gotham City. He has the knowledge and a hand in practically all the city’s criminal activity. He also despises Bruce Wayne.

This would not be moviegoer’s first encounter with Penguin, as he serves as the primary villain in Tim Burton’s BATMAN RETURNS. Played by Danny Devito, Burton’s depiction of the Penguin was less of a proper crime boss. Devito’s Penguin is more of a monster with dreams of rejoining society in order to take it over/destroy it.

It would be very cool to see a more traditional Penguin from the comics: A crime boss with slight penguin-esque features, able to get away with his underhanded deals because he’s already a part of higher Gotham society. Cobblepot also serves as a sort of bridge between the more traditional criminals Batman fights and those that are more monstrous and beyond the ordinary.

With the rumors that THE BATMAN may have more than one villain, Penguin would be a great choice to be the one to assemble a group of Gotham’s worst.

THE BATMAN
Artist BossLogic’s Depiction of Josh Gad as Penguin

As far as casting rumors go, the frontrunner for Penguin is Josh Gad. Visually, Josh Gad could carry a very striking resemblance to Cobblepot. Also, Gad has begun to take some more serious roles such as with MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS. Gad himself has also fueled the fire to these rumors, sharing his enthusiasm for the role.

Penguin: Beyond THE BATMAN

The Penguin rumors go on to say that even if Reeves passes on the Penguin, Warner Bros. would then use him for the upcoming BIRDS OF PREY film.

In my opinion, if any Batman villain were to show up in other corners of the DCEU, Penguin is a great choice. This is because Penguin’s criminal activity does not have to be limited to just within Gotham’s city limits. He could easily be the main villain in SUICIDE SQUAD 2. Better yet, if the JUSTICE LEAGUE post-credits scene is any indication, Lex Luthor, another big money/high society criminal, is going to assemble of league of his own with Deathstroke. More villains will probably join this venture, and someone like Penguin would probably catch Luthor’s interest.

Whose Gonna be Batman? Still Ben Affleck?

Even after pulling out of writing and directing, Ben Affleck showed some hesitation for the role of Batman himself. After BATMAN v. SUPERMAN, it seemed like he would be done after JUSTICE LEAGUE. Then, at last year’s Comic-Con, Affleck said he was thrilled to be the Caped Crusader:

“It’s incredible! So I’m really blown away and excited and it’s a great time in the DC Universe. You’re going to see some stuff from Justice League that we’re really really proud of, and I’ll think you’ll see why I’m really excited to be Batman.”

Even with this claim, as Justice League got closer, Affleck told this to USA Today:

“You don’t do it forever, so I want to find a graceful and cool way to segue out of it.”

THE BATMAN
Image Courtesy of DC Entertainment

This seems to indicate Affleck is looking for a way out, and when the FLASH movie lost FLASHPOINT as its’ title, it seemed to add to this. Warner Bros. might be looking to restructure their plans, as FLASHPOINT would most likely have included Batman. An exit by Affleck could be the cause.

5 Actors Who Can Play Batman If Ben Affleck Bails

No Affleck? Could It Be Jake Gyllenhaal?

Another rumor from a couple months back claims that Jake Gyllenhaal is Matt Reeves’ top pick to replace Affleck as Batman, however, this rumor seems somewhat unfounded now as new rumors suggest that Gyllenhaal is in talks with Marvel Studios to play Mysterio in SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING 2.

Last week’s rumor pivots Aflleck’s stance yet again. Twitter user @DanielRPK claims that Ben Affleck is looking to stay on as the Dark Knight. @DanielRPK has been right about other rumors before, so this might be credible.

Even then, a Deadline report says that THE BATMAN will be a reboot. It will still be a part of the DCEU, but Ben Affleck would not be the star. If this is true, most fans would find this frustrating, as it would mean a drastic change to the DCEU on Warner Bros.’ part. If an actor change were to happen, it’s still unclear if the change would just happen, or if Warner Bros’ would try and have an in-continuity reason for the change.

Hopefully, we’ll get a confirmation at this year’s SDCC as to whether or not Affleck will stay on as Bruce Wayne.

Possible Plots THE BATMAN: A DEATH IN THE FAMILY

Rumors of Matt Reeves’ BATMAN plot primarily fall into a couple different story options. The only real confirmation we do have comes from Reeves himself, being that THE BATMAN film will still be in the continuity of the rest of the DCEU. The first and most popular rumor for Matt Reeves’  THE BATMAN is a story similar to A DEATH IN THE FAMILY from the comics. The story focuses on the death of the second Robin, Jason Todd.

THE BATMAN
Image Courtesy of DC Entertainment

There’s a precedent for this story already from the rest of the DCEU. In BATMAN v. SUPERMAN, Batman has a Robin costume on display in the Batcave. Green spray paint writing covers the suit, saying:

“Ha Hah! Joke’s on you Batman.”

This shot shows that Batman has already lost Jason, and Joker murdered him, just like in the comics story. Also, in SUICIDE SQUAD, there is a reference that implies that Harley Quinn also has a hand in Todd’s murder.

THE BATMAN
Image Courtesy of DC Entertainment

A DEATH IN THE FAMILY inspired plot is so popular because of what happens to Jason after his death. Jason gets a resurrection from the Lazarus Pit and becomes the ruthless vigilante Red Hood. Initially angered that Batman didn’t seek vengeance on the Joker, letting him live, Jason’s first actions as the Red Hood put in direct conflict with Batman, and they have to resolve some serious issues.

Possible Plots for THE BATMAN: ARKHAM’S MOST WANTED

Another thought is that Batman may fight more than one villain. For example, an Arkham Asylum breakout could be an option, where the escapees could join forces to take over Gotham. Or, as previously mentioned, the Penguin could be the primary villain, hiring a team of Arkham’s worst to do his dirty work. Joker is going to have his own solo film, so perhaps he wouldn’t be featured as a primary antagonist. Maybe just a cameo.

DCEU: What Happened In The 20 Years Prior To BATMAN V SUPERMAN?

Matt Reeves’ BATMAN film is the perfect opportunity to introduce villains that have yet to be on the big screen. Deathstroke was a part of the Justice League post-credits, Black Mask would be a great crime boss to join with the Penguin, Clayface would look amazing cinematically with his shapeshifting and strength.

It’s also a chance to have previously seen villains get more accurate depictions, such as the Riddler or Mr. Freeze. No offense to Jim Carrey or Arnold Schwarzenegger, but I think it’s finally time to give those characters another shot. A better shot. In any case, an ensemble of villains could be a potential route, as opposed to one singular villain.

Possible Plots for THE BATMAN: HUSH

My personal preference would be for THE BATMAN to be based, at least in part, on the HUSH storyline from the comics. In it, Batman deals with several of his villains one after the other, all influenced and part of a master plan by the new villain Hush. It features several characters that have already been seen in the DCEU such as Joker, Harley Quinn, and Killer Croc. However, it would also feature new characters, most notably Poison Ivy, Two-Face, the Riddler, Catwoman, Huntress, and Nightwing. It also features Superman temporarily under the control of Ivy, which would be cinematically very cool to see.

Huntress is rumored to be in BIRDS OF PREY and a NIGHTWING solo film is in development. To see them in A HUSH-inspired script would be a great introduction for both of them before they would branch off to their own films.

THE BATMAN
Image Courtesy of DC Entertainment

To have Hush as the main antagonist would create a great emotional arc for Bruce Wayne. Hush’s true identity is Thomas Elliot, Bruce’s childhood friend who becomes a world-renowned surgeon. While appearing to be a well-respected doctor, Elliot had always held a resentment towards Bruce, jealous that Bruce became the sole inheritor of his parents’ fortune after their deaths. Elliot wished this for himself, and secretly killed his own parents, growing up with an irrational but hidden hatred of Bruce. This is what leads him to become Hush, and putting a plan in motion to kill Bruce after learning that he is the Batman.

Final Thoughts on THE BATMAN

To conclude, there’s still a lot we don’t know about THE BATMAN. Affleck continues to pivot, the villain is unknown, and the plot could go in a couple of directions. However, we know that it will be part of the DCEU. Apparently, Reeves says he feels really good about the project. Personally, I think that Reeves could do some really cool things with the character if given the freedom to do so.

The best we can hope for is that Warner Bros. will shed some light on the production at Comic-Con. Then we can move from the rumor mill and into definite things we can expect. THE BATMAN has a lot of potential. Let’s hope Warner Bros. doesn’t waste it.

Matt Reeves’ THE BATMAN is scheduled to be released in 2020.

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