The news that a reported Batman Beyond film starring Michael Keaton had received the axe from Warner Bros. Discovery lit up the headlines recently. It’s yet another self-inflicted blow that the studio and DC seemingly throws at itself, as the future of the DC Universe continues to attract more controversy than excitement for its questionable decision-making. More importantly, it shows a fundamental problem at boardroom level that is easily fixable if executives truly want it.
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A Michael Keaton-led Batman Beyond film would have been a slam-dunk
While there’s still chatter about who would be a better Batman for the main universe, there’s something indisputable among the fans: Michael Keaton’s Batman is a fan-favourite iteration of the character. He might not be the right choice to continue in the cape and cowl for a prolonged period of time, but he is still the best possible choice for an older Bruce Wayne in a once-off film.
Right now, most fans are asking what’s the point of Keaton’s Batman returning for The Flash if there’s no payoff in the end. At first, there were rumours he’d serve a Nick Fury type of role in the then-DCEU. Then, he was meant to appear in Batgirl. Well, neither of those two options are looking probable anymore, so that would have left only one option: a Batman Beyond film.
For years, fans have clamoured for a live-action adaptation of the Batman of the Future. In the early 2000s, the studio showed serious interest in pursuing the project before pulling the plug. Since then, no one has heard a peep about a potential film…until now.
In the land of dream castings, Batman Beyond fans backed the idea that Keaton is the right person to return to the role as the elder Wayne, who mentors the young Terry McGinnis and passes on the mantle. If DC and WBD were smart enough to secure the services of Keaton once again, surely, they’d be aware of the interest in seeing him in this futuristic Batman story, right? Well, it appears not.
Why cancelling a Batman Beyond film doesn’t make sense
Now, there’s undoubtedly a chorus of people screaming, “WBD CEO David Zaslav doesn’t want four Batmen running around, so this wouldn’t make any sense.” That’s true, since Zaslav mentioned how he wants to create one shared cohesive universe with singular versions of characters. However, he’s already contradicted himself with the greenlight for The Batman 2 and Joker: Folie à Deux.
These projects have been confirmed to be standalones and not tied to the DCU. So, again, why couldn’t a Michael Keaton Batman Beyond film fall in the same category? If WBD and DC are saying it’s okay to have a few universe-exempt films, then there’s no reason to pursue it. It’s simply a double standard.
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What the DCU needs to do
Undoubtedly, DC Studios co-CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran have a tough journey ahead of them. Not only do they need to steady the course of the DCU, but they also need to make some hard choices about what to do moving forward. Gunn mentioned on Twitter that not all of the decisions will go down well, but they need to service the characters and the story. And he’s right.
What is worrying, though, is how the studio cannot escape the perpetual chaos it finds itself in. Within two months of Henry Cavill announcing his return as Superman, there are rumours he may not really be back at all. The future of Wonder Woman 3 also looks to be on the brink. And no one knows if Jason Momoa is set to be Aquaman or Lobo in two years’ time.
Truth be told, this is a mess that Warner Bros. Discovery and its previous regimes created for themselves. Instead of listening to the fans and finding what does and doesn’t work, they bombed ahead in questionable directions. Then, when they try to rectify or remedy something, corporate politics takes over and they end up two steps behind.
A Batman Beyond film starring Michael Keaton may be an impossibility now, but it is yet another reminder of how the studio failed the fans by not listening. Perhaps the solution to the DCU’s problems isn’t trying to figure out how to get out of the corner it has painted itself into. Maybe the only choice is to hit the reset button and start everything from scratch.
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Tell us, are you disappointed by the cancellation of Michael Keaton’s Batman Beyond movie?