Matt Reeves Says ‘The Batman’ Is Standalone; Is DC Abandoning Its Extended Universe?

Director Matt Reeves says that his movie The Batman will not be a part of the DC Extended Universe. With this coming right after news that Warner Bros. is working on a Joker movie that’s not related to the other DC films and doesn’t have Jared Leto in it, there are now questions about whether DC is even interested in a cinematic universe anymore.

Batman-News on Wednesday picked up an interview in which Matt Reeves says that Warner Bros. told him The Batman will be standalone. The interview was actually conducted by KCRW in July, but it’s just now receiving attention.

“When they approached me, what they said was: ‘Look, it’s a standalone, this isn’t part of the extended universe,’” Reeves said.

Batman is seen briefly in the new ‘Justice League’ trailer. | Warner Bros.

There has been some debate about what Matt Reeves meant by this. It certainly sounds like he’s saying The Batman is not a part of the continuity of the DC Extended Universe, the franchise of films that so far has included Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman. But it’s also possible that Reeves misspoke. He could have simply meant that Warner Bros. promised him his movie would not have to tie in to the other DC films by having cameos and plot points meant to set up future movies.

But either way, Warner Bros. seems to be expressing more interest in standalone stories and a bit less interest in an intricate universe that operates like a television series, i.e. Marvel Studios. After all, this Reeves news comes shortly after Deadline reported that Warner Bros. is making a Joker movie that is completely unrelated to the DC Extended Universe; Jared Leto will not play the character. Deadline reports that this will be the first film under a new banner in which the studio will release movies that aren’t a part of any cinematic universe. Based on what Matt Reeves said, it sounds like The Batman could be another one of those standalone stories. It is expected to be the first in a new Batman trilogy.

Ben Affleck as Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Ben Affleck as Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice | Warner Bros.

What remains unclear is whether Ben Affleck will star in The Batman. Affleck stepped down from directing the movie earlier this year, and when Matt Reeves was hired, he completely rewrote the script that Affleck worked on. Since then, there have been rumors that Affleck will leave the movie altogether. Last month, The Hollywood Reporter suggested that “the studio is working on plans to usher out Affleck’s Batman — gracefully, addressing the change in some shape or form in one of the upcoming DC films.” The Hollywood Reporter also said that it’s a safe bet that Affleck will not be in The Batman. 

One theory about all of this is that DC will be splitting its movies up into different timelines after Flashpoint. The studio has already announced a Flashpoint movie, and the comic that this is based on involves alternate timelines. The Flashpoint movie could therefore create an in-universe explanation for why there are live action DC movies that aren’t connected to the Extended Universe: because they take place in different timelines.

Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Cyborg prepare for battle

Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Cyborg | Warner Bros

This summer, Warner Bros.’ Wonder Woman was as a massive success, outgrossing last year’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice domestically. While this film took place in the DC Extended Universe, it was mostly a standalone story, and so this may have suggested to Warner Bros. that they should focus on individual films rather than movies that are highly connected to a cinematic universe and set up future storylines as Marvel Studios successfully does.

For now, Warner Bros. has a string of movies on its schedule that will apparently take place in the same DC Extended Universe, including Aquaman, Shazam!, Wonder Woman 2, Cyborg, and Green Lantern Corps. But based on Matt Reeves’ quote and the news of a totally unrelated Joker movie, it sounds like DC is becoming more and more open to its movies being standalone stories.