The Batman may be on its own. That’s the implication given by Matt Reeves, according to an interview with the War of the Planet of the Apes director. “Look, it’s a standalone. It’s not part of the extended universe,” DC apparently said. This, of course, is confusing to some people. Ben Affleck is still attached to the role, after all. And given DC’s inability to determine how they really want this to go, confusion is justified. Just the other day they even announced a standalone Joker origin movie that’s presumably taking place in a separate canon. No one asked for that, but they’re doing it. And this all comes on the heels of the Joker & Harley Quinn spin-off movie that is presumably in the DCEU canon, as Jared Leto and Margot Robbie are reprising their roles. Point is, DC’s all over the place. It’s enough to drive a person mad.
But there are numerous ways this can be interpreted, actually. Reeves’s statement doesn’t expressly mention that the movie will be taking place in a separate canon. Only that it will be a standalone. This could mean the events of the movie will simply happen “in a vacuum.” People watching it won’t have to watch the other movies in the other franchises in order to understand it. Much like this summer’s Wonder Woman. The first lineup of Marvel movies operated on this, as did a handful of the Phase 2 movies. There may have been references, but a person needn’t watch the other movies to get key elements.
Iron Man 3 very much required some working knowledge of Marvel’s Phase 1. Captain America: Civil War required it to an even greater degree, though did recap enough that it wasn’t as necessary. The Batman could be aiming to do something similar. It could simply be focusing on telling its own story, and not focusing so heavily on crossover.
One major criticism lingers over most of these shared-universe films. They spend so much time trying to set up the shared universe, that they don’t really spend enough time trying to be their own movies. This is the very problem that killed Sony’s attempt at a Spider-Man movie universe. It’s one of the biggest perceived problems with this year’s reboot of The Mummy. So maybe DC’s sitting back and learning from the mistakes of these other endeavors. With luck, it’ll lead to a great movie.
The Batman has yet to receive an official release date but is aiming for 2019. In the meantime, Justice League hits theaters November 17.