On Friday, I dropped the latest episode of the El Fanboy Podcast. Part of the episode centered on what I’ve been hearing from inside sources over at Warner Bros., and what it all means for The Batman and the cinematic DC Universe as we know it.
Today, I’m going to explore that topic again for those of you who don’t do the whole podcast thing and who prefer these kinds of stories in written form.
Though, if you do listen to podcasts, and you enjoyed this week’s El Fanboy Podcast, please take a moment to head over to Apple Podcasts to leave me a review. The reaction to this episode (#51!) has been tremendous, and the outpouring of raving responses has been almost overwhelming. I’d love to see some of that love get translated into the form of 5 Star reviews so that the show can continue to grow and climb the charts!
But okay, let’s roll up our sleeves and look at this whole The Batman/DCU situation…
Over the course of the last couple of weeks, there’s been lots of rumors, murmurs, and “controversy” surrounding the status of The Batman. Many would have you believe that director Matt Reeves is about to exit the batcave, and the situation came to a head in the middle of last week when an online pundit named John Campea teased that he’d heard some crazy DCU news that was bound to negatively impact your feelings about the franchise’s future.
Many assumed he was referring to the potential exit of Reeves, while others thought he could be referring to some sort of large-scale reboot that would toss out everything we’ve seen so far.
So, being the devoted DC fan and reporter I am, I decided to do some digging. I reached out to people who work at Warner Bros., and I reached out to fellow journalists with proven track records, and I kept my ear to the ground trying to figure out what on earth Campea was talking about.
While digging, I came across the one interesting thing that seems to be happening behind-the-scenes at DC Entertainment and it does- indeed- involve Mr. Reeves and his future as the director of The Batman. But what I found out was more of a nuanced piece of intel; Not some sort of earth-shattering smoking gun, or something that would lead to the kind of tumult that Campea was teasing.
To date, he has yet to reveal what his doom-filled tease was in reference to. But I’ll circle back to that in a bit.
What I learned while speaking to people in-the-know is that WB/DC and Reeves have been discussing ways to get The Batman going. You see, Reeves has had the job for just over a year now and he has very little to show for it. In the time since he’s had the gig, which he inherited once Ben Affleck vacated the director’s chair, Wonder Woman came out and was a smash hit, Justice League arrived with a bit of a thud, and the power structure at DC Entertainment has been totally re-thought.
— Ben Affleck (@BenAffleck) February 24, 2017
So a lot’s happened, and yet there’s still no clear timetable for when The Batman will enter production. That’s something that Walter Hamada and the rest of the new DC Entertainment leadership would like to remedy. According to my sources, films like Nightwing and Batgirl are all in a holding pattern until they know exactly what’s up with The Batman. They want that film to come out first, since it doesn’t make sense to produce off-shoots of the Bat-universe without the Dark Knight’s place in the DCU being firmly established.
With Affleck’s future as the Caped Crusader still heavily in doubt, and with the DCU in a state of course-correction, the studio needs some clarity from Reeves about what his plans are and when they can put those plans into action.
As I reported exclusively for The Splash Report last year when I was a freelancer, Reeves was given full creative control of The Batman. He entered negotiations at a time when the studio was vulnerable, with Academy Award-winner Affleck bowing out and amidst the deafening whispers that the studio had been too forceful and impatient with Affleck, and so he was able to walk away with a deal that granted him the freedom to make the movie without the studio breathing down his neck.
That was all well and good in February of 2017, but it’s now March of 2018, a ton has happened, and the studio has been trying to get some concrete plans from Reeves.
While Batgirl was never necessarily a priority, and Nightwing is still in the very early stages of development, I’m told even films like Suicide Squad 2 and one of the kicked-around Harley Quinn movies are somewhat reliant on knowing what’s going on with The Batman. So they want to move forward faster, and this delay is starting to interfere with their plans- since the DCU is still very much a shared universe.
None of this would be an issue if the rumors were true regarding Reeves setting the film off in its own world. But since that’s not the case, these are matters that have to be resolved. And, while he’s still locked in to direct the picture, I’m told this could be the issue that one day leads to his exit from the project. It sounds like someone heard that the studio was applying some pressure, and that somehow morphed into all of these clickbait headlines you’ve been seeing about his “shocking departure from the DCU.”
For now, though, I’m not hearing anything all that dramatic. It sounds like the two sides have just been trying to iron out the logistics for the film, and that DC Entertainment has voiced to the War For The Planet of The Apes director that The Batman is a top priority for them.
Circling back to Campea now…
While he hasn’t come out and said what his smugly negative tease was in reference to, he did pop up in my twitter mentions over the weekend. What was he chiming in about, you ask? Well, he went ahead and validated what I mentioned on the podcast on Friday:
MR is absolutely holding them up. Perhaps for good reasons, but he is holding other projects up.
— John Campea (@johncampea) March 4, 2018
“MR [Matt Reeves] is absolutely holding them [WB/DC] up,” he said amidst an ongoing discussion about Reeves taking too long to get The Batman going. “Perhaps for good reasons, but he is holding other projects up.”
So it sounds like he’s hearing the same whispers I am.
As for that “bombshell” he refuses to share with the world, I’ve continued to follow up with people at WB, and the latest I can offer is this quote from my anonymous insider:
“I don’t know what it could be. I think he is fishing. Nobody knows what he’s talking about.”
While that comment could definitely lead to folks pointing and laughing at Mr. Campea, I’d like to call for clemency and patience.
This person I spoke to works for WB, but there’s always a possibility that Campea heard something from someone even closer to the situation. It’s a huge company, after all, so there’s a chance Campea has a direct line to someone higher up the food chain than I do. He’s been at this way longer than I have, and much of what he’s had to say in the past lines up with things I’ve reported, so I’ve got to give respect and credit where it’s due.
Therefore I won’t discount his doom message entirely, but- personally- I’m feeling pretty comfortable that it’s really not a big deal, whatever it is.
And, to reiterate something I said on twitter:
I’m hereby offering you an invitation to come on the El Fanboy Podcast to clear the air on this ugly dust cloud you kicked up last week. Let’s compare notes. Let’s discuss what you’ve heard, what I’ve heard, and let’s get to the bottom of this.
What you did last week was very unfair to people who are incredibly emotionally invested in these characters and this universe. Let’s put their minds at ease (or put them out of their misery) with something clear and direct, instead of vague teases.
I was a little hard on you on Friday’s show, but I’m willing to be an understanding audience to your version of things, and I’m man enough to apologize if I spoke out of turn and you really do end up having something of value to share with DCU fans.
Mario-Francisco Robles (@I_AM_MFR)