As The Batman keeps filming, set photos may be hinting at the franchise using a similar concept that Black Lightning and The Dark Knight films used.
Set photos from The Batman have possibly given some clues about what kind of DC Universe the Robert Pattinson franchise is setting up and how it may be taking a page out of Black Lightning and The Dark Knight’s books. The British actor is the latest star to bring the Dark Knight to the big screen but will be set outside of the ongoing DCEU. While Pattinson’s Batman may not share the screen in any crossovers with Henry Cavill’s Superman or Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, the DC detective may meet new versions of the other trinity members. With production fully underway, The Batman‘s new set pictures have revealed a scene in which two extras were shown dressed up as the Man of Steel and the Amazonian warrior.
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While yet to be confirmed, the setting seems to be for a Halloween party, hence why they’re dressed up as those DC heroes. What is still a mystery though is whether or not heroes like Superman and Wonder Woman are actually real people in this universe or simply fictional characters published by DC Comics. Even The Flash has been hinted to exist somehow in Pattinson’s universe. Since The Batman is focusing on Bruce’s second year as a crime fighter, it’s uncertain if he’d even have any relationships with those characters at this point.
Until the questions get a proper answer, this isn’t the first time that a DC live-action property has dealt with the existence of other established characters differently. The first The Batman official trailer and from quotes by Matt Reeves, been hinted to be a very noir and dark universe for the latest take on the Caped Crusader. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it won’t have a new take on the DC Universe in mind. This is what The Batman might be borrowing from Black Lightning and The Dark Knight trilogy and what the new franchise should ultimately do as a separate DC film franchise.
How Black Lightning Tackled Other DC Heroes
When Black Lightning initially premiered on The CW, the creators and writers had made the call to set the series outside the ongoing Arrowverse. Despite being executive produced by Greg Berlanti, who helped create all the other Arrowverse dramas, Black Lightning was placed in its own continuity. A lot of it had to do with the creators wanting to establish Jefferson Pierce and his family properly before even considering including Black Lightning in a crossover with the other DC shows. However, it didn’t stop them from having fun with teasing a larger DC world within their Earth, but in their own fun ways.
In the first two seasons, the characters would intermittently reference other popular DC characters. Heroes like Supergirl and Vixen were referenced, but never really specified if they existed or not on Black Lightning’s Earth. And when Grace Choi was introduced, she was seen with an Outsiders comic, published by DC Comics, as the series eventually adapted the team into in the third season. Answers were finally given when Black Lightning took part in Crisis on Infinite Earths as Jefferson was transported to Earth-1 to help stop the Anti-Monitor. During his big guest spot, Black Lightning viewers were properly given an answer when Jefferson saw the two Supermen in front of him.
When he saw the Men of Steel in front of him, Jefferson said “So the Superman thing is real?! Oh damn. After all these years,” while completely gushing about what’s in front of him. Even during the winter premiere of Black Lightning, taking place right after the creation of Earth-Prime, Jefferson is telling a not-present Gambi that Superman is real. His moment in the crossover confirms that before his Earth was destroyed, characters like Superman, Supergirl, Vixen, and more were only fictional characters that people read about in comics. Now that the DC superheroes are all in the same universe, Black Lightning actually gets to engage with these heroes as real people as opposed to having to only see them in the pages of comics.
The Dark Knight Trilogy Made Batman The Only DC Hero
While that was Black Lightning’s approach to include the DC brand within their world, Christopher Nolan’s Batman films had a different setting. Throughout all three films, Nolan created a Batman universe that was completely set in reality, hence the grounded re-imaginations of certain elements from the comics. Despite using characters like Ra’s al Ghul and Bane, two villains that are more than street-level criminals, Nolan retooled them to act as if they could be real in this world. Elements like the supernatural Lazarus Pit or Bane’s super-steroid Venom were removed from those characters which are two big parts of those villains.
But the core of this franchise was to be able to tell a Batman story as realistically as possible. What would an actual playboy billionaire do in order to become a masked vigilante that strikes fear in everyone who lives in Gotham City? Aspects such as how to make a Batsuit that would actually work in the real world was a big arc in Batman Begins. But at no point did the idea of superheroes existing in Christian Bale’s universe ever seem a possibility at all. No references to other DC heroes are ever made in any of the three films.
That concept is further proved in The Dark Knight Rises during Bane’s invasion of Gotham City. Had someone as powerful as Superman existed, there’s no justifying why he wouldn’t simply fly over and help out in any way possible as Bane’s terrorism wasn’t exactly hidden from the rest of the world. At the start of Bruce’s run, the emergence of this vigilante never got compared to other figures like him by citizens or the media in that universe. The franchise always indicated that the creation of Batman was the first time the world had ever witnessed a superhero. The ending of The Dark Knight Rises supports that idea even more after Batman’s sacrifice gets massively recognized.
Why Batman Shouldn’t Be The Only Superhero In This Universe
Since The Dark Knight films already established that Batman was the only superhero in that world, this should push The Batman even further to not take that route. The latest reboot will be the launch of a new franchise that will follow Pattinson’s rookie Batman across multiple films. By limiting the character from the supernatural and sci-fi corners of the DC Universe, it shuts the door on a lot of potentials. Batman has and always will be best depicted when set in a gritty and intense world. However, many of the character’s strongest arcs and journeys have involved Bruce having to take on something like Killer Croc, a Ra’s al Ghul who has lived for over 600 years, or a Bane fueled by Venom.
Additionally, it isolates the character if he never has the opportunity to meet other heroes like Superman, The Flash, Wonder Woman, or Green Lantern. If Warner Bros. even wants to, they can use The Batman universe to introduce new versions of these iconic heroes that could fit in Pattinson’s world. It’s not a guarantee to happen, but given the studio’s biggest investment into the DC Multiverse as of late, it’s a possibility. The franchise isn’t dependent on having to do DC crossovers, but that doesn’t mean it benefits from doing it the way the Nolan films did it. It would otherwise just feel like repeating the same tone, but with different actors and directors.
Looking back at the Batman films from the ‘90s, that franchise never had their Dark Knight meet other DC heroes even though Schumacher’s films both referenced Superman in passing. Despite the death of the film series through Batman & Robin, it still highlights that the idea of singling Batman out as Gotham’s only protector and Superman’s approach being separate. For The Batman, this is a way to do something different for the next live-action interpretation of Bruce Wayne. With the set photos featuring those extras dressed up as Superman and Wonder Woman, it’s a perfect way for the franchise to tease their existences without Bruce having to lose the spotlight to Clark or Diana. Only time will tell how The Batman might create its own DC Universe, but ideally, it’ll be one that isn’t afraid to rely on supernatural and sci-fi elements, including the existence of other superheroes.
NEXT: Every DC & Justice League Character Teased By The Batman Set Photos
Key Release Dates
- The Batman (2022)Release date: Mar 04, 2022
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