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The DCU Batman Movie Could Do Something Truly Brave And Bold - A Less Grimdark Caped Crusader

You'd think that after Christian Bale, Batfleck, Battinson, and the impending return of Michael Keaton, Warner Bros. might be done recasting the Caped Crusader (and his supporting cast) for a while. And yet, the wheel of Hollywood reboots keeps turning. James Gunn and Peter Safran's plans for a new interconnected DC film and television universe — now dubbed the DCU — includes another impending live-action Batman adaptation. However, this one might be a little different than what's come before.

Robert Pattinson's "The Batman" franchise is still alive and well in a separate continuity, but the DCU will feature a new Dark Knight in "The Brave and the Bold." Said to be based on prolific comic book writer Grant Morrison's extended run with the character, the film will center on Bruce Wayne's relationship with the son he didn't know he had (via The Hollywood Reporter). Damian Wayne's origins technically date back to the 1987 comic "Batman: Son of the Demon," but the character we know today was truly shaped by Morrison in 2006, during a run that fully revealed him as the grown child of Bruce and Talia al Ghul (someone whom audiences will remember as the overarching villain of "The Dark Knight Rises"). And now, Damian is set to make his live-action debut. 

A big-screen Batman and Robin story with Damian at the center has a lot of potential, but he isn't the only promising twist in this latest adaptation. For decades, Batman's live-action career has been defined by a specific interpretation of the character — the brooding, isolated, grimdark crime fighter. But with "The Brave and the Bold," that mold could finally be broken.

Robin demands a lighter Batman story

Aside from the afterthought of a Robin twist at the end of "The Dark Knight Rises," Batman's plucky sidekick hasn't featured in a big-screen adaptation since 1997's infamous "Batman and Robin." For some, the idea of the Boy Wonder returning to live-action might be worrying. After all, his bright red tights and snarky wit aren't exactly the stuff of grimdark legend. Of course, the simple inclusion of a character doesn't necessarily mean one thing or another for a movie, but Robin's presence in "The Brave and the Bold" does suggest a lighter tone overall.

Robin doesn't have to be a package deal with cringe quips or goofy gadgets, but he does fundamentally change the kind of character that Batman can be — especially when it's Damian. The Bale, Affleck, and Pattinson Batmen all roughly play into the same archetype. They're brooding crusaders who cut themselves off from society and use the Batman moniker to mask their inner pain. That can still be part of Bruce Wayne's journey as a father and mentor, but it can't be the only side he shows.

Famously, Damian Wayne is the darkest Robin of them all, so the upcoming film probably won't get too silly with him. But in some ways, a brooding sidekick demands an even lighter Batman to balance things out. Part of why the various Justice League cartoons of the 21st century are so beloved is because they show Batman as a composed and inspiring leader. Hopefully, that's what we'll get here, too.

The Brave and the Bold title suggests a very different tone

It should be interesting to Batman fans (and DC fans in general) that Gunn and Safran have chosen "The Brave and the Bold" as the name of their new feature. That title evokes two past projects in particular: the 2008 Cartoon Network animated series "Batman: The Brave and the Bold," and the old-school DC comic series "The Brave and the Bold," which ran from 1955 to 1983. That latter series featured far more characters and stories than just Batman, but it generally focused on team-ups. The cartoon, on the other hand, is one of the Dark Knight's least dark iterations to date, with notably younger target demographic than previous shows like "Batman: The Animated Series."

Gunn and Safran's "The Brave and the Bold" will still be a modern blockbuster, which means that little kids won't be the (only) primary audience. However, it's safe to assume that the film will still evoke a more fun and cartoony tone than the other recent "Batman" movies. The team-up nature of the "Brave and the Bold" comics also seems to be central here, with Safran saying (via Empire) that "This is going to feature other members of the extended Bat-Family. Just because we feel like they've been left out of the Batman stories in the cinema for far too long."

That makes sense, especially since Damian has complicated relationships with other former Robins, like Tim Drake and Dick Grayson, in Morrison's run. Grayson even becomes the new Batman to Damian's Robin at one point in that series, though the DCU seems settled on featuring Bruce Wayne beneath the cowl.

James Gunn doesn't do self-serious superheroes

James Gunn has gained fame and acclaim in Hollywood for his own unique brand of superhero filmmaking — a brand that's as reliant on comedy and self-parody as it is about sincere storytelling. His work in the MCU with the "Guardians of the Galaxy" films and his previous contributions to the DC universe with "The Suicide Squad" and "Peacemaker" all wear versions of that core style. Gunn believes, or so it seems, that there's an inherently fun and goofy quality to comic book stories that's important for them to work. "Guardians of the Galaxy" has some of the most complex and emotional character work in the entire MCU, but it's never at the expense of the fun.

Gunn obviously won't be leading every DCU project personally, but his involvement is big enough that we can infer some things about the coming films. It's hard to imagine his take on the Dark Knight being as overly self-serious as past incarnations. In his discussion of the DCU slate, Gunn said of Damian Wayne that (via Empire), "He was raised as a little murderer and assassin. He's my favorite Robin." That kind of balance — recognizing what is kind of funny and intriguing about a character while also treating them with respect — could yield a great, new kind of "Batman" movie.

With The Batman - Part 2 still coming, there's room for some variety

At a different point in time, the idea of a lighter, more cartoonish "Batman" film might be a dangerous risk for DC and Warner Bros. For better or worse, the character has developed a reputation and massive fan base in recent years as the patron saint of grimdark genre stories. If fans were waiting years without a single morsel of Gotham City to tide them over, going more lighthearted could spark major backlash. Fortunately, in today's world, we're never at risk of running low on "Batman" content.

"The Batman — Part II" is still on the way, despite all the new DCU plans, and happily existing in its own Elseworlds universe. It even has an official release date of October 3, 2025 (per Esquire). With it, Matt Reeves and Robert Pattinson are sure to bring all the noir stylings and angsty montages you could ask for. And since the first film did so well, there's no real reason to try to duplicate it in the new DCU canon.

Why not let "The Batman" be "The Batman," and also allow "The Brave and the Bold" to be something new? It's the perfect opportunity to branch out with the character, because the grimdark version is still alive and well. The chance of major backlash is at an all-time low, and the potential is massive to bring in even more viewers who haven't clicked with past adaptations. Now is the time to let Batman be just a little bit lighter once again.