Director Matt Reeves births a Batverse with The Batman, but it might be a world without a Superman. Grounded in the gritty realism of '70s neo-noir cop movies like Chinatown and The French Connection, Reeves' The Batman is not part of the DC Extended Universe that pit Batman (Ben Affleck) versus the Kryptonian Superman (Henry Cavill) in Zack Snyder's Dawn of Justice. The reboot — set in year two of a young Bruce Wayne's (Robert Pattinson) crusade as a costumed crime-fighter — is a street-level murder mystery putting the Dark Knight detective on the trail of a serial killer (Paul Dano's Riddler).
"It's a high wire act to do a Batman movie, right? Because the character's been around for 80 years, everyone has their own version in their head and there have been great movies. The last thing I wanted to do was come in there and feel like I had to do something with the highest degree of difficulty and then also find the ways that it connects to everything else," Reeves told Collider of his standalone Bat-movie. "My thing was, from the beginning, I said, 'Look, I think it's enough to try and just do a Batverse, to do a Batman movie,' and that that's where this begins."
Asked if other DC Comics superheroes exist in this Batverse expanding on HBO Max with spinoffs for Penguin (Colin Farrell) and the Gotham PD, Reeves said, "I suppose it's not impossible to believe that somewhere down the line they could connect to something else, but that was not my interest in this, and it's not my interest in what we would do in follow-ups at the moment, either."
"I feel like the whole point in us working with this incredible cast and this incredible crew to realize this movie that sort of, I really believe, is a fresh and different version of these characters is to pursue every ... There are a lot of great characters in the Gotham world and so the idea of leaning into that, that's really my interest right now," he added.
Set photos captured in 2020 showed what appeared to be a Halloween partygoer dressed as Superman, suggesting the Man of Steel exists in some form in the Batverse. Reeves says — at least for now — the focus is on Batman.
"I did this in the [Planet of the] Apes films too, and even Cloverfield, this idea of taking the one fantastical element and then have everything around it, so it'll be as grounded as possible, so that it could feel [real]. I want it to feel emotionally real and to make everything feel very believable," Reeves said. "In this movie, even further I think than what I did in those films, I tried to find the practical, believable version. If suddenly in the Batman world, you discovered that there was an alien that was Superman, there'd be a lot of shock. I mean, people would have to say, oh my God, and maybe that would be the one fantastical element."
"But to be honest with you, that is not the intention at this point, to figure out how to make that come," Reeves continued. "Look, we should be so lucky that this is a world that people embrace and that they say, oh my God, we want to see what would happen when those things collide. I think if that challenge ever presents itself, it would be an exciting one to explore, but I'd have to try and do it through this lens. You know what I mean? And that is absolutely right, that at the moment, to me, this world is the place that I want to focus."
Starring Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Paul Dano as Edward Nashton/the Riddler, Jeffrey Wright as GCPD's James Gordon, John Turturro as Carmine Falcone, Peter Sarsgaard as Gotham D.A. Gil Colson, Jayme Lawson as mayoral candidate Bella Reál, Andy Serkis as Alfred, and Colin Farrell as Oswald "Penguin" Cobblepot, The Batman opens exclusively in theaters on March 4.