It's now been just about a year since the world beheld the first major step that Warner Bros. would take toward a unified cinematic DC Comics-based universe on the silver screen with the release of Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Over the past year, this column has expressed several different ideas related to that film, chief among them being that it could've been better, but also wasn't exactly as much of a cinematic atrocity as some outspoken fans and critics have claimed.
For the problems that BvS had, there was still a significant amount of the final product upon which future filmmakers could build some very representative aspects of a new DC Universe. The makings of the Justice League, the rarity of Kryptonite, the entire Kryptonian culture, the hate and fear people feel toward the unknown, a 20-year career in Gotham City for Batman, the death of a Robin, the lineage of Lex Luthor, and the alienation of Themyscira are just some of the many elements that future films actively are building upon, as well as what others potentially could.
Of course, one of the biggest forthcoming DC Comics films to come is the solo film featuring Ben Affleck's Batman, and the first solo Batman film since 2012's The Dark Knight Rises. As is rumored right now based on a piece at Forbes by the venerable Mark Hughes, the solo Batman film is not only getting delayed but is also being entirely rewritten from the ground up to accommodate the film's new director, Matt Reeves. Of course, the internet is having a rather predictable nervous breakdown, so let's parse this out a little bit.
The Delay is Coming From Multiple Angles
Let's not forget that it was just a couple of months ago that we were still talking about the solo Batman film in terms of Affleck taking on both the acting and directing responsibilities for it, along with his name on the screenplay. As we detailed before, the incoming director Matt Reeves likely has a significant amount of work to do in order to make sure it's a film that he's happy with putting his name on, and his involvement in the early stages of pre-production likely require him to do some "course correcting" to put the film on a path closer to one that will accomplish the vision he has for it. Comics on Film has nothing but faith in Reeves and his collaborators to do Batman justice, especially considering that his film will likely set the tone for a significant amount of DC Comics-based films to follow.
Outside of the issues being sorted out by the exit of one director and the entrance of another, the film's most principal and visible personality has also had to undergo a deeply personal battle with his own demons. Posting from his official Facebook account, Ben Affleck revealed that he has completed a round of voluntary rehabilitation for alcohol abuse, and any sensible person outside of the internet superhero-movie scene will easily understand that this is a very serious issue for the talented actor-director that he rightfully prioritized over all other concerns. Comics on Film wishes Mr. Affleck nothing but the best in putting his health first, and anyone who has seen what Affleck is capable of knows that his is a talent worth nourishing and preserving as much as we can. As fans, that means supporting him as he gets through an undoubtedly difficult personal ordeal.
Knowing what we know now about everything happening with The Batman, a delay to a 2019 release window seems like a pretty positive outcome, as opposed to something that could've seen the film cast out altogether.
The Universe Can March On
While Batman is, of course, an extraordinarily important pillar to any DC Universe, there are still enough films in the pipeline that should let fans look forward to the many possibilities awaiting us. Aquaman, The Flash, Suicide Squad 2, Gotham City Sirens, and Nightwing are all movies that have been talked about to one degree or another, with some of them actively in production as we speak. A new solo adventure for Superman has recently made its way into the rumor mill again, and Henry Cavill himself has posted some interesting things on social media to hint at a future involving Krypton's Last Son, and a new version of Green Lantern.
Besides, in the actual DC Comics Universe that hits comic book shops every Wednesday, Batman appears in only a fraction of the full catalog of titles. He's there for the big events, sure, and he can show up in some pretty interesting places, but Batman's corner of the DCU is only one part of it. Hopefully this summer, the release of Wonder Woman will emphasize to people that the DCU is full of possibilities without the Dark Knight. That doesn't mean that Batman isn't one of, if not the best character(s) that DC has: nothing can change that. The truth is, though, there is a lot of untapped material out there just waiting to be introduced to wider audiences for the first time.
Similarly to how Guardians of the Galaxy and Doctor Strange opened up the worlds and realms of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, DC has a ton of concepts — like the Legion of Super-Heroes, the Challengers of the Unknown, the Birds of Prey, the Doom Patrol, Adam Strange...hell, what about Ambush Bug and Brother Power, the Geek? — that can help to blow the door off the way people think and approach the entire DC brand.
On the internet, comics fans and superhero fans tend to get a tad apocalyptic and reactionary when faced with news of delays. Our advice is to take a deep breath, let the solo Batman film unfold with all of its extenuating circumstances, and get excited over all of the comic book movies from all across the board that we have coming just this year. Logan was a hell of a way to kick off comics-based cinema in 2017 (and you can't discount The Lego Batman Movie, either), so let's enjoy the ride and see where it takes us.
Batman is most assuredly a very high priority for Warner Bros., and will be just fine.