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Is The Batman Part Of The DCEU?

Warner Bros. Pictures and DC Films' cinematic depictions of DC comic book characters have grown complicated in recent history. Christopher Nolan's standalone 2005–2012 "Batman" trilogy brought the studio significant financial and critical success at a time when superhero movies started exploding in popularity in the United States and worldwide. While multiple films starring well-known DC characters were made at the beginning of the 2010s, like "Green Lantern" in 2011 and "The Dark Knight Rises" in 2012, the first actual entry in the DC Extended Universe is 2013's "Man of Steel," directed by Zack Snyder. The DC Cinematic Universe originally set out to make a series of films to rival Marvel Studios' Marvel Cinematic Universe by fast-tracking the path to the superhero team-up movie "Justice League" (via Entertainment Weekly).

There was no smooth sailing for the DCEU, though. Superman's (Henry Cavill) sequel movie, "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," bit off more than it could chew by rebooting Batman (Ben Affleck) and introducing Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) all at once, receiving abysmal reviews from critics and mixed reception from the public (via Rotten Tomatoes). While the "Wonder Woman" solo movie performed well, 2017's "Justice League" proved a tremendous financial loss for the studio (via Uproxx). Affleck was supposed to write, direct, and star in his own Batman standalone film, but by 2019, he had given up on the project, opting out of the Batman role and allowing Matt Reeves to take over for the new movie (via Variety).

Director Matt Reeves insisted The Batman not be part of the DCEU

Matt Reeves told Esquire that Warner Bros. first presented him with a "Batman" script that Affleck had worked on while Reeves was finishing post-production on "War for the Planet of the Apes." Reeves described the script he first saw as "a totally valid take on the movie" that was action-driven, "almost James Bond-ian," and lived heartily within the DCEU. However, it wasn't the type of "Batman" story Reeves felt comfortable working with — he wanted to divorce the character from the DCEU entirely. Fortunately for Reeves, Warner Bros. was interested, and once Affleck left the project in its entirety, he had a wide-open slate to do whatever he wanted with the character. Reeves said he landed on the idea of showing Bruce Wayne early in his crime-fighting career, struggling to truly make a difference in Gotham.

"He'd like to think that he is doing the right thing, that there's another part of him that's struggling right up against the limits," Reeves said about the character's place in "The Batman." "I think his biggest weakness is not realizing the extent to which the person that he's fighting is himself."

To that end, "The Batman" is not part of the DCEU due to Reeves' insistence on creative control over the story. Fans should not expect to see Robert Pattinson's Bruce Wayne appear in future DCEU films; presumably, any forthcoming media featuring this version of the character will be a Matt Reeves-helmed or guided project.

What's next for the DCEU?

While "The Batman" does not take place in the DCEU, DC Films' cinematic universe is forging ahead like nothing has changed. In a sense, it hasn't; Affleck is set to appear as Batman one more time in the upcoming 2022 film "The Flash," alongside Ezra Miller. Affleck recently told Variety that he feels "The Flash" features his best performance as the character. "I hope they maintain the integrity of what we did because I thought it was great and really interesting — different, but not in a way that is incongruent with the character," he said.

"The Flash" is also set to introduce Michael Keaton's version of Bruce Wayne from the films "Batman" and "Batman Returns." It seems that Keaton will continue on as the DCEU's caped crusader and is expected to appear in the upcoming "Batgirl" movie as well. Outside of "Batman" content, the DCEU is trudging ahead at full speed. James Gunn recently helmed successful entries in the franchise with his light reboot of 2016's "Suicide Squad" (2021's "The Suicide Squad") and a subsequent spin-off show, "Peacemaker," which received close to universal praise on Rotten Tomatoes.

Moving forward, DC fans can expect the DCEU to continue expanding, with several movies and television series on the way in the near future, including "Black Adam," "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom," and "Shazam! Fury of the Gods." Of course, it seems Matt Reeves' "Batman" universe will expand too, with television series supplementing the all-but-guaranteed eventual film sequel starring Robert Pattinson.