DC fans should savor Michael Keaton’s return as Batman in the upcoming “The Flash” movie, because it sounds like that could be the beginning and end of his reprisal. Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav teased future plans for DC Films on Tuesday under the tutelage of newly installed CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran, and reading between the lines, it sure sounds like the multiverse is not going to be key going forward.
“I think over the next few years, you’re going to see a lot of growth and opportunity around DC, there’s not going to be four Batmans,” Zaslav said. “And so part of our strategy is drive the hell out of DC, which James and Peter are going to do. I think they’ve thrilled the fans. I think they’re going to thrill you over a period of time.”
While at face value the notion of four different Batman actors at the same time would seem silly, that was kind of the direction DC was heading before Gunn and Safran came onboard to steer the ship.
Michael Keaton, who starred as Batman in Tim Burton’s two “Batman” films in 1989 and 1992, reprises the character in next year’s “The Flash” when Ezra Miller’s speedster travels to a different universe – the one in which Keaton is still Batman.
Keaton’s role in the current DC slate was originally intended to be larger, as he appeared in the now-scrapped “Batgirl” movie and could have potentially starred in further “Batman” sequels down the road. But Zaslav’s comments on Tuesday paired with the “Batgirl” cancellation seem to signal his desire to simplify the Caped Crusader for audiences.
Ben Affleck’s Batman has a cameo in “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom,” although rumors have swirled that his cameo replaces a cameo that was intended for Keaton. Affleck also appears in “The Flash” but has signaled that his time at Batman has come to an end, while Robert Pattinson’s Batman franchise is just getting started with a proper sequel greenlit and in the works.
Gunn and Safran, meanwhile, have said that they’re working on a grand 8 to 10-year plan for the DC Universe, and it very much sounds like it will more closely resemble the more unified Marvel Cinematic Universe rather than splitting off into multiple realities.
All of this to say, while “The Flash” was seemingly originally intended to open the DC universe up to the multiverse in a way that would allow for multiple Batman franchises to exist at the same time, Zaslav and Co. now seem keen on scaling that back.