Can Warner Bros Just Make a Batman Live-Action TV Show?

With Ruby Rose out as the lead of Batwoman and Bruce Wayne having already been cast in the [...]

With Ruby Rose out as the lead of Batwoman and Bruce Wayne having already been cast in the Arrowverse, it isnt' hard to head over to Twitter and find people urging The CW and Warner Bros. Television to take this opportunity to explore the Dark Knight. But it seems pretty unlikely that Batman will headline his own TV show anytime soon, for a number of reasons. Of course, even if they were interested in doing so, it's pretty unlikely we would see Warner Bros. TV and The CW replace Batwoman with it,since the two shows aren't the same thing at all.

First, and most obvious, Batwoman is a series that features an LGBTQ+ lead, and replacing her with a straight, white man would be a hard sell in terms of optics. If they were going to make a Batman show at all, they would likely want to distinguish it from Batwoman as much as they could.

On a more practical note, you may or may not have heard that there's a movie coming out soon. While it is not a hard and fast rule that charcters appearing in the movies cannot have their own shows -- Henry Cavill recently signed on to do more Superman work, and Tyler Hoechlin's Man of Steel will headline Superman & Lois next season -- it is pretty rare. When Suicide Squad was getting off the ground on the feature film side of things, a planned Arrow spinoff centering on the property was cancelled and most of the characters were disappeared from the Arrowverse, almost certainly at the request of Warner Bros. management.

And then there's the Fox angle.

Since nobody involved has ever wanted to talk about the specifics of the deal publicly, there's a lot of conjecture out there as to exactly what rights to a Batman TV series would look like, without the involvement of Fox (and now Disney). Since the original 1960s TV show, Fox had controlled the production and distribution rights for Batman on the small screen, while Warner Bros. -- who owns DC -- control the movies and basically every other TV property. Obviously whatever Fox's deal is does not extend especially far, with The CW shows able to reference and use Bruce Wayne, while DC Universe's Titans featured the Dick Grayson version of Robin.

For years, the Adam West Batman series was not available on home video. There were a number of conflicting reasons given, among them conflicts between Greenway (one of the production studios behind the series), ABC (which aired it),and Fox (the other producers, and distributors). Warner Bros. becoming involved later as the new owners of DC likely only complicated those conflicts. By about 2010, ABC's and Greenway's shares of interest in the show had been turned over to Fox, but with music clearance issues, home video deals not hammered out for all of the cameos, and a contentious relationship between Fox and DC, it looked like the show owuld never be released.

Than changed in 2014 when, just as Gotham was getting started on Fox, some kind of deal was brokered that allowed Warner Bros. Home Entertainment to release the series on home video, as well as making a pair of animated spinoff movies. A comic book series based on the Batman '66 versions of the characters was greenlit and ran for a few years, plus crossovers and tie-ins.

At the time, the assumption was that Gotham -- which was not "technically" a Batman series and which had a lot of networks interested in it -- had gone to Fox in exchange for getting the Batman TV rights back. Beyond just the '66 series, reports over the years had said Fox had the rights more or less in perpetuity, although they could not launch any new properties without DC and WB signing off on it.

Whether that was true or not is unclear, as is whether the Gotham deal nullified it. But there are still a lot of fans who believe Warner cannot make a live-action Batman TV series without Fox (now Disney) involvement, and Fox/Disney cannot make one without WB.

True or not, it's unlikely that DC would entrust their biggest cash cow to the small screen just as a new big-screen franchise is getting started, with a lot of excitement and anticipation behind it. While it seems pretty clear that the current regime at WarnerMedia is perhaps not as committed as their forebears to creating a wall between TV and film, it's unlikely that Batman, who always has at least one movie in development at any given time, would be one of the first heroes to test that new boundary.