Fans have been begging Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment for a live-action Batman Beyond movie for a long time. Will the studios finally deliver?
Think back to 1999. Batman Beyond, or Batman of the Future as it was known in some countries, had the weight of the world on its shoulders when the original series first ran. Namely because it had to follow the universally praised and four-time Emmy Award-winning Batman: The Animated Series, arguably the greatest animated show of all time. Furthermore, the story was ambitious, to say the least, as it would focus on a new protagonist and Batman (Terry McGinnis) and would only feature a handful of the classic characters from the original Caped Crusader’s folklore.
Yet, with Bruce Timm, Alan Burnett and Paul Dini – three of the masterminds behind BTAS – heavily involved, Batman Beyond proved to be another critical success and fan-favourite venture. While the cyberpunk styled show never quite reached BTAS levels of euphoria, it did become a lauded and cherished part of the DC universe – so much so that a live-action feature film was announced by Warner Bros. in August 2000.
However, the ghost of 1997’s Batman & Robin loomed over the Warner movie lot and the fear of another disastrous Batman project paralysed the studio execs’ cheque writing hands. In short, the project was canned by 2001, and the creative team opted for an animated film, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, instead.
In an interview with filmmaker Kevin Smith, Dini explained how far the live-action film was from being made. “It was fine…it wasn’t like [Return of the Joker]. It was set in Gotham future, but it didn’t quite have the fantastic, futuristic edge. It was sort of like an amalgam: there was a little bit of Dark Knight, there was a little bit of contemporary comics, and there was Terry and the suit and everything. It was old Bruce Wayne. So they were in it, but it was just a little bit…I dunno, for whatever reason, this [Return of the Joker] was a more successful film. The first draft went in and needed some work, and then basically everybody decided it was better…rather than spend a lot of time on this, and let’s just table it.”
The film might’ve been shelved, but a lot has happened since 2001. Most importantly, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy set the gold standard for superhero films, ensuring the world went absolutely comic book mad. Flash-forward to today and every comic book related project is being green-lit while studios cash in on the pandemonium – I mean, Sony even considered an Aunt May film for heaven’s sake! With many lesser characters and franchises receiving their own films, the question is begging to be asked:
Could a live-action Batman Beyond film finally be on its way this time?
It’s possible. Let’s look at the evidence: First, DC Comics’ Batman Beyond is thriving in the comic book world and Terry has played a central role in The New 52 storyline. Second, with Ben Affleck retiring from Batman in the DCEU, it would make perfect sense to have him hand over the mantle to a younger successor at some point (Matt Reeves’ The Batman is set in a different world). And finally, it just makes sense to explore new territories and new villains. There are many more incredible story arcs begging to be told and the cyberpunk world of Batman Beyond has epic sci-fi extravaganza written all over it.
In fact, even Michael Uslan, best known as a producer of all the modern Batman films to date, seems to be a fan of the idea. In a 2013 panel discussion, Uslan stated, “Now if I could put my ‘fanboy hat’ on, not my ‘producer hat’. How cool would it be to see a Batman Beyond movie? Bruce Wayne in his 80s training a young Batman. And how cool would it be to see Clint Eastwood as Bruce Wayne in his 80s?”
What would the story be?
Before we get ahead of ourselves, we also need to be aware of the biggest obstacle to a Batman Beyond film: the public itself. How do you convince the average cinema goer to watch a Batman film about a Batman he/she can’t relate to? How do you introduce a complex derivative of an already complex character to someone who isn’t familiar with the series?
Liberties can – and probably would – be taken; however, where would you draw the line? Would former Batman villains have to be included purely because of audience familiarity? Would Dick Grayson take up the mantle since he’s more well-known than Terry McGinnis? In order to keep the character as close to the source material as possible, risks would need to be taken – something that Hollywood isn’t too fond of doing.
Batman Beyond could be the key to taking superhero films to another plane and proving to the critics that there is much more substance to comic book films than meets the eye. The iron is hot and it’s time for Terry McGinnis and co to strike.
The only question left is: which actor would portray Batman Beyond?
Tyler Posey Wants To Play Terry McGinnis in A Batman Beyond Movie
Tyler Posey, probably best known for his portrayal of Scott McCall on Teen Wolf, is interested in suiting up as Batman Beyond’s Terry McGinnis. During an interview promoting Truth or Dare, Posey discussed his superhero aspirations with Screen Rant.
“I always got… Remember Batman Beyond? I loved Batman Beyond! That’d be fun, man, I don’t want, I don’t want to get too old before I got to pitch it.”
Perhaps Tyler Posey might be the right guy for the job. But who would pay the older Bruce Wayne?
George Clooney Should Redeem Himself By Playing Bruce Wayne In Batman Beyond
2019 was a very important year for Batman Beyond fans. It was the 20th anniversary of the animated series. The show, which answered the question about what would happen to Bruce Wayne once he got too old to be Batman, was a surprise hit and has been cemented in Batman history as one of the best.
Of course, with the celebrations came more talk about a live-action film or series. With Kevin Smith mentioning his interest in seeing a Batman Beyond film starring Michael Keaton, fans eagerly awaited more from DC. But nothing happened.
Also, while Keaton would be a great choice, we’re honestly hoping that George Clooney would get the role instead.
Yes, Batnipples hasn’t had the best reputation as Bruce Wayne/Batman since he appeared in 1997’s Joel Schumacher directed Batman & Robin, but that’s the perfect reason why he shouldn’t be overlooked. Both Schumacher and Clooney have apologised to fans for the film in recent years, with George even apologising to Adam West for his awful performance. Here is a chance for the Oceans actor to redeem himself as Bruce Wayne. Here is the chance for him to make right with the fans.
George Clooney is a great actor. It’s hard to deny it. His roles in Gravity, O Brother, Where Art Thou? and The Descendants have more than proved that. Plus, like Bruce, George Clooney has a certain charm. He is rich, famous, and good looking. In fact, when you really think about it, it’s clear to see why he was initially chosen for the role.
As the series has shown, Batman Beyond‘s Bruce Wayne is older, a little angrier but still able to kick ass. This isn’t the same cheesy Batman character Clooney played all those years ago. He has a lot more depth, which stems from all the hurt he has experienced as Gotham’s vigilante.
Failure can be a great teacher, even if you’re one of the world’s most famous movie stars. If Clooney were to don the cape and cowl again, he wouldn’t make the same mistakes.
“It’s really easy to pick: Batman & Robin,” Clooney said when asked which of his films had the biggest influence on his career. “That’s not a joke. Up until that moment, I was an actor only concerned with finding work. After the failure of that film creatively, I understood that I needed to take control of the films I made, not just the role.”
For those who don’t know, Bruce Wayne actually developed Terry McGinnis’ Batman suit while fighting The Banes, the successors to the original Venom-fueled criminal. During Batman’s last case, he realises that he is unable to defeat the superpowered beings and engineers the suit in order to help him defeat them. The fight against The Banes eventually leads to Bruce’s retirement. Wayne becomes a broken, tired and miserable old man.
George has the look. He has the acting ability. He knows the character. And he understands failure. Those are all traits of the perfect actor to play an ageing Bruce Wayne.
It’s time to forgive Clooney. It’s time to give him another chance. The acclaimed humanitarian might just be the retired Bruce Wayne we need and deserve.
But if George Clooney says no, we have a good backup.
— BossLogic (@Bosslogic) August 28, 2018
Michael Keaton’s Return Could Pave the Way for Tim Burton’s Batman Beyond
The news that Michael Keaton is returning as Bruce Wayne/Batman in the Flash movie sent shockwaves throughout the fandom. Undoubtedly, Keaton is one of the most beloved actors to portray the Caped Crusader, and his appearance would symbolise that the DCEU is made up of Multiverses where everything is canon.
While there is still debate about how large or small Keaton’s role will be in the DCEU, there has been speculation that he’d serve a Nick Fury-type of role where he’d mentor the younger heroes. Many have speculated that he could play a major role in the upcoming Batgirl film, which is being written by Christina Hodson, who also penned The Flash and Birds of Prey.
The potential for a new Batgirl origin is exciting, but a live-action Batman Beyond movie might be the one that truly hits the spot. For years, the fans have dreamt of seeing Keaton return as the elderly Bruce Wayne to mentor a young Terry McGinnis in a futuristic but strange new Gotham City. When Keaton joined the MCU as Adrian Toomes/Vulture, it seemed like that dream would never materialise.
Now, with Keaton back at DC, the ultimate fan-wish fulfilment is back on the table. Quite frankly, it would be stupid for the studio to not even have discussed Batman Beyond with him yet. It’s the most logical progression of Keaton’s Batman character, and with the Multiverse in full flow, it wouldn’t mess with any other future plans or interconnectedness. In fact, it’s the perfect time to pull the trigger on the idea.
Of course, it could also take place after Bruce Wayne’s death
In Batman: Urban Legends #7 (written by Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly and drawn by Max Dunbar), Terry discovers a dying Bruce Wayne on the floor of the Batcave below Wayne Manor. Bruce delivers his final words to the young man he entrusted with his mantle. Terry must dive deep into Neo-Gotham’s underworld to find his killer.
If Warner wanted to tell a tale without Keaton appearing too much, this is it. It could be a noir film that sees Batman of the Future hunting down Batman’s Rogues Gallery. He could also be struggling with the difficulty of continuing the Batman legacy. All he has left to guide him are the lessons Bruce taught him.
We could even have cameos from other characters Batman mentored. Like Leslie Grace, for example.
Who Should Direct a Live-Action Batman Beyond Movie?
If Keaton does agree to Batman Beyond, then there’s just one other person missing: director Tim Burton. There’s no disputing that the two had a synergy that reinvigorated the Dark Knight for a new generation. While Warner Bros. robbed the audience of a third film with the pair, there’s an opportunity to right a wrong from 25 years ago.
Burton brought something new to the Caped Crusader’s mythology. Even today, his dark influence and imagination continue to shape how people see the tone of Gotham City. It’d be fascinating to see how he’d envision a futuristic version of the world he built in the late eighties.
While most studios tend to look forward and never back, Warner Bros. could be rewriting the rule book here. Fans have long accused the studio of not listening to what they want, but recent decisions and changes in leadership indicate that something has changed.
A Batman Beyond film that reunites Michael Keaton and Tim Burton wouldn’t just be nostalgia. It’d be the natural evolution of a concept that began three decades ago. If the DCEU truly embraces the Multiverse and its infinite possibilities, this could be a comeback to rival Michael Jordan’s in 1995.
But who else could direct it?
Denis Villeneuve Could Direct
Just imagine what a Batman Beyond movie directed by Denis Villeneuve would look like.
With the total dominance of superhero films at the box office, it stands to reason that most filmmakers would want a piece of that pie. That said, some directors have a more defined visual style than others, making them less likely to jump into the superhero bandwagon.
One of those directors that we’d never thought we see attached to a superhero movie project is Canadian filmmaker Dennis Villeneuve. Known for his work in Sicario, Arrival, and more recently, Dune, Villeneuve has quickly become one of the most influential filmmakers of the 21st century.
But would he be interested?
While audiences flock in droves to see the newest Marvel or DC films, some old-school directors have been quick to voice their discontent with the genre. Martin Scorsese has famously compared Marvel films with theme park rides, saying that they bring nothing new to the medium.
Villeneuve has also mentioned his distaste for the whole “superhero flick” fad. While his words haven’t been as harsh as those of Scorsese’s, the Canadian director pointed out that most Marvel films look like they’re a “cut and paste” of each other. For a filmmaker whose trademark is constant innovation through visual storytelling and compelling plots, these are harsh words for the guys over at the MCU.
When it comes to superheroes, there’s one of them that’s been ruling the big screen for longer than the MCU has existed. We’re talking, of course, of the Cape Crusader himself, Batman.
While some superheroes wear colourful leotards and fight every week to save the world, Batman has a more grounded narrative. Despite some of its more “colourful” characters, the Batman mythos has some of the most iconic villains and storylines in comic book history.
Even someone like Denis Villeneuve has found a connection with the stories of Batman. The filmmaker has mentioned that the Dark Knight is one of the only comic book characters he feels a connection with. He even cited Batman: Arkham Asylum as one of his favourite comics. Just imagine how wonderfully trippy an Arkham Asylum film directed by Villeneuve would be.
However, we think that a live-action Batman Beyond movie would fit Denis Villeneuve’s talents better.
The sombre nature of Batman Beyond made it a hit with fans of the cyberpunk genre – and it just so happens that Villeneuve directed the best cyberpunk film in the last 20 years.
A Batman Beyond movie in the same style as Blade Runner 2049 would be a cinematic experience above most of what we’ve seen in the superhero movie genre. The adult themes in this incarnation of Batman and the overall look of Neo-Gotham would go fantastically well with the cyberpunk style of Blade Runner.
Now that the DCEU seems to be taking its timeline rather liberally, and that multiple versions of Batman are set to appear in 2022’s The Flash film, it seems like a great time for Villeneuve to step in and take the Batman franchise to the next level. Oh, and we could also get Ben Affleck back in the role of Gotham’s protector, as he would make an amazing father figure for whoever plays Terry McGinnis.
Casting a Batman Beyond Film
Matt McGinnis – Noah Schnapp
Terry’s younger brother would need to be a somewhat young actor, preferably one that has some experience playing dramatic characters. Noah Schnapp, the actor who played Will Byers in the Netflix smash hit Stranger Things, would be a great fit for the role, even if his age might not coincide with that of the original character.
Mary McGinnis – Courteney Cox
Terry and Matt’s mother, Mary, acts as the moral compass of the show; she’s always there to offer support to her two rebellious sons, not to mention that she’s also a renowned astronomer. For her role, someone like Courteney Cox would work great: we have an actress that can effortlessly perform sentimental roles with a hint of comedy in them, and that would work contrasted with Batman Beyond’s bleak setting.
Maxine Gibson – Vanessa Morgan
A computer genius that is also the new Batman’s trusty sidekick, Maxine Gibson would have to be played by an actress that adds a hint of angst and nerdiness to the character without going overboard with either of them. For this, Vanessa Morgan would work perfectly. The Canadian actress is better known for her role as Bird Castro in Finding Carter, and her performances in various entertainment shows like Lip Sync Battle have proved that she has what it takes to play someone like Maxine.
J-Man – Timothée Chalamet
The Joker’s successor is nothing like the old man. Whereas the Joker used to be a feared criminal, J-Man is mostly a small-time thug that depends on his gang to do the dirty work. Timothée Chalamet’s acting skills might be above what’s needed to play someone like J-Man, but there’s no denying that he fits the character’s physical features. He would be a great asset to a live-action Batman Beyond movie.
Dana Tan – Camila Mendes
Better known for her role as Veronica Lodge in the teen drama series Riverdale, Camila Mendes bears a striking resemblance to Dana Tan, Terry’s love interest. Additionally, her experience as an emotional yet strong character would result in an excellent rendition of Dana Tan.
Derek Powers – Jeremy Strong
Also known as the supervillain Blight, Derek Powers is Terry’s most bitter enemy throughout the series. Jeremy Strong, better known for his work in HBO’s Succession, would be an amazing choice to play the character, especially since it would come naturally for an actor who has demonstrated more than enough aptitude to play business-minded characters like Powers.
Commissioner Barbara Gordon – Alicia Silverstone
Even though most people agree that Batman & Robin should be erased from the Batman cinematographic canon, it is still the closest we’ve got to a live-action version of the Bat Family. A cool way to salvage the movie’s legacy would be to cast Alicia Silverstone as Barbara Gordon in Batman Beyond. After all, familiar faces will help the audience connect to the world.
She played the part in Batman & Robin, and it could be argued that her involvement in said film was the only good thing to come out of the entire project. Silverstone would be more than ideal to play a more mature and wiser version of Barbara in the film, serving as Terry’s loyal companion in the Gotham Police.
Terry McGinnis – Charles Melton
The successor to the Dark Knight, whoever plays Terry McGinnis must be ready to perform some physically demanding work. This version of Batman is much more agile than Bruce Wayne, which means that whoever plays Terry doesn’t have to be as bulky as someone who would play the original Batman.
Charles Melton would be a great pick for the leading role – especially considering he’d be reuniting with his real-life romantic partner, Camila Mendes. Melton’s chiselled facial features also resemble the appearance of 31 years old McGinnis, a look he sported in the Batman Beyond season two episode, “Epilogue.”
Other roles, like Nelson Nash and Warren McGinnis (Terry’s father), could be played by lesser-known actors.
Would An Animated Movie Work Instead?
It might’ve been too ambitious to pull off in 2001, but it’s doable nowadays. In fact, if you think about it, Denis Villeneuve imagined what you’d think Neo-Gotham would look like in Blade Runner 2049, so the template and technology is certainly there for a film of this nature.
The thing is, it remains a risky project for DC and Warner Bros. to this day. The average moviegoer knows that Bruce Wayne is Batman, but would they embrace a new person as the Dark Knight? Remember, a studio isn’t just making a movie for the core fanbase; it needs to consider the general audience as well.
Sony Pictures had a similar dilemma with Miles Morales. How do you explain to someone who isn’t familiar with the comics that there’s more than one Spider-Man? Comic book canon can become convoluted, but Sony did it in the simplest and best way possible: in the form of the smash-hit Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
Undoubtedly, Warner Bros. took note of this movie and has its own desire to emulate the critical and financial success with its own characters. Hence the reason a project like an animated Batman Beyond movie would be the perfect vehicle to do so. Heck, considering that even a live-action film would be mostly CGI, why doesn’t Warner Bros. and DC just fully commit to animation in the first place?
Think about it. You could have an all-new cast voicing the film, or even bring back the stars from the animated series (like Kevin Conroy). Whichever way you look at it, it would be a cheaper exercise than a live-action affair and test the waters for Neo-Gotham in future adaptations.
One thing’s for certain, though: Warner Bros. and DC won’t ignore Batman Beyond for too long. It’s likely that it’ll be revisited in some shape or form in the near future. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait until 2039 for it.
Terry McGinnis fans deserve it.
A Batman Beyond Video Game?
Maybe a video game could fill the void in our hearts in the meantime…
Releasing a futuristic, open-world Batman title in the same vein as the Arkham games would undoubtedly appease the fanbase and find justice for the horrendous Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker video game from 2000, released on PlayStation, Game Boy Color and Nintendo 64. The title is regarded as one of the worst superhero games ever created and the less we say about it the better.
Of course, fans have been able to play as the Batman Beyond skin in the Arkham series; however, it isn’t quite the same thing. Looking at a title like Cyberpunk 2077, it’s an example of what sort of world and mood we’d expect from Neo Gotham. It’s darker, grittier, futuristic and loaded with a host of new and advanced tech to play with and experience.
The call for a Batman Beyond video game isn’t an original idea and many fans and pundits have suggested it’s the perfect way to continue the established Arkham storyline. It makes sense since the Arkham series told Batman’s story in a pleasing and concludable manner. Where else do we go from there except for him to fight the same supervillains over and over again?
Hopefully, a Batman Beyond movie title is a consideration for everyone involved. It could huge success. As a Batman fan, I’m super keen. This could be a new path for the Batman franchise. We’ve seen enough of Bruce Wayne. It’s time for a new hero to step up and take on the mantle.