‘The Batman’ Delay Means the DCEU Will Take Its Longest Break Since ‘Justice League’

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Hollywood isn’t just skipping new film releases for most of 2020. Many productions either already in progress or about to begin have also been delayed. One such project is The Batman, writer/director Matt Reeves’ upcoming reboot featuring Robert Pattinson as the DC Comics hero.

In response to the widespread shutdown of movie theaters, Warner Bros. has readjusted its DC Films slate through 2022. First, the studio pushed Wonder Woman 1984 from June 2020 to Aug. 14, 2020. Now, after that film, the DC Extended Universe will experience its longest gap between movies since 2017’s Justice League.

Robert Pattinson during Paris Fashion Week
Robert Pattinson during Paris Fashion Week | Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

The DC Extended Universe was off to a rough start

When Man of Steel was released in 2013, Warner Bros. was taking a very cautious approach to adopting a full-on shared universe. But its $668 million worldwide gross was enough for the studio to lean into the big-picture possibilities. Rather than taking it slow, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice immediately set the stage for an Avengers-style team-up.

That 2016 film and its immediate follow-up, Suicide Squad, were commercial hits but didn’t fire up the public like the studio hoped. In fact, it wasn’t until 2017’s Wonder Woman that the DCEU had its first undeniable slam dunk. The very next year, Aquaman crossed $1 billion worldwide, and the series began to feel unstoppable.

Even Shazam! and Birds of Prey — which did well but not up to the level of their predecessors — received positive reviews and became profitable. Plus, while not technically part of the DCEU, Joker‘s $1 billion, Oscar-winning performance certainly boosted DC’s brand.

Just as the DCEU was building steam, it’s facing an extended delay

So, while the delay would throw off any production, its timing is particularly undesirable for the DCEU. After spending its first few years getting its footing, the DCEU has just hit an unexpected roadblock. Because of its production delays, The Batman has moved from June 2021 to Oct. 1, 2021. But Reeves’ movie isn’t the only DC project with a new release date.

The Flash — which has faced delays in the past — will now arrive in theaters a month earlier on June 2, 2022. And Shazam! 2 was pushed a full seven months, from April 1, 2022 to Nov. 4, 2022. Much like the 13-month gap between Justice League and Aquaman, DC fans will now have nearly a year-long wait between movies.

‘The Suicide Squad’ leads a promising 2021 slate

After Wonder Woman 1984‘s Aug. 14, 2020 release, the next DCEU film on the schedule is James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad. That film — a sequel/reboot of David Ayer’s 2016 Suicide Squad — will hit theaters on Aug. 6, 2021. Then, The Batman comes in October, followed by Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam in December.

To be fair, the DCEU’s 2021 slate remains extremely solid. And if the break between Justice League and Aquaman is any indication, it might give the creative team behind DC Films the chance to plan out what comes next. After all, during its last year-long break, the DCEU went from arguably its biggest disappointment to its first billion-dollar movie.

Perhaps The Batman‘s delay is a blessing in disguise. DC Comics has such a rich tapestry of stories and characters who deserve movies that do justice — pun intended — to the source material. And Warner Bros. has proven recently it is heading steadily in that direction. So while the wait for The Batman is a short-term bummer, it could yield long-term rewards for fans.