While new leadership at Warner Bros. Discovery has made headlines lately for cutting much of their programming slate and film projects — including the long-awaited Batgirl film — one big piece of good news arrived this week. Filmmaker Matt Reeves and screenwriter Mattson Tomlin are about to begin writing the sequel to 2022’s blockbuster reboot The Batman for WBD. Robert Pattinson will return in the title role.
The Batman grossed $770 million in its theatrical run after it’s release in March of this year, and is currently the fifth-highest grossing film of 2022, behind Top Gun: Maverick ($1.4 billion), Jurassic World Dominion ($984.7 million), Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ($955 million), and Minions: The Rise of Gru (835.8 million). The Dark Detective’s reboot was also critically acclaimed, enjoying an 85% “fresh” rating at Rotten Tomatoes and a Cinemascore audience grade of A-. You can read my own review here.
A sequel seemed inevitable, and the studio quickly set up spinoff streaming series at HBO Max including The Penguin and Gotham City PD, the latter of which evolved into plans for an Arkham Asylum series.
But the Warner Bros. merger with Discovery and subsequent cancellations and announcements (including that the new WBD would not develop big branded IPs — including DC properties — for streaming, reserving them for theatrical releases) suddenly cast doubt on the whole future of Reeves’ plans for Batman. And just this week came word that the animated series Batman: Caped Crusader, executive produced by Matt Reeves, Bruce Timm, and J.J. Abrams — would no longer be released on HBO Max. The studio plans to sell it to some other streaming service.
So fans and entertainment press have been anxiously awaiting confirmation of Reeves’ status and whether his bat-plans are still getting the green light. Which is why there was great relief when news of The Batman 2 being scripted was quickly followed by confirmation that Reeves has signed a first-look deal with WBD and is also continuing his deal with WB Television Group. This is the first of such exclusivity deals with any filmmaker for WBD, and the details of the announcement made it clear The Penguin and other Batman tie-in projects are still good to go and won’t face the corporate axe.
Mattison Tomlin worked on the script for The Batman, but the final script was credit to Reeves and Peter Craig. This time around, Tomlin will be cowriting the script for The Batman 2 with Reeves. You can get a look at Tomlin’s writing for the character in his exceptional comic book limited series Batman: The Imposter.
The Batman sequel scripting will begin soon, but so far it’s too early to say when it will be finished or what it will be about. And any word of production start dates will be a while in coming, too, so fans will have to be patient. Reeves likes to take his time and make sure he gets everything right, and we should be glad of that.
Word that Reeves has the studio’s full support and will be able to proceed with his Batman plans unhindered is music to the ears of those who feel Reeves is perfectly suited to oversee the entire Batman franchise and larger bat-world for a long while.
I’ve banged the drum for Reeves to be Warner’s Batman guy since before Affleck even officially left as writer-director on the solo Batman films, and it’s no secret my own biggest concern about the future of DC movies was whether Reeves would get to pursue his vision and stick around on Batman. So for me and others who share my enthusiasm, knowing Reeves will be here for a long while, and that his Batman world will continue to expand, takes some of the sting out of the bad news about other DC projects being cancelled or diverted.
Now that we know a sequel is on the way, we can start debating possible villains in earnest. I’ve written before about which villains I think are on the table for The Batman 2 (which will surely have a different title by the time a script is done), with Mr. Freeze being a potential top candidates since he was one name singled out by Matt Reeves himself when I attended a special early screening of The Batman. So stay tuned for plenty more speculation and analysis about this over the next few months while we wait to see which of the rogues gallery will arrive to challenge the Dark Detective next.
I hope the plans for streaming series The Penguin and (for lack of a better reference title at this point) Arkham Asylum remain as Reeves wants and plans them. But part of me wonders if WBD executives will try to convince Reeves to merge his plans into a film project or two, instead of streaming them as series. Or perhaps they will ask if he would be willing to meld the two concepts into a single feature film focused on the villains of Gotham City, some on the streets and some at Arkham.
Again, it sounds like the streaming series plans remain in place — although perhaps instead of debuting on HBO Max (or whatever amalgamation service exists when Discovery+ and HBO Max are folded together) the studio might sell these shows to other streamers the same way they’re handing off Batman: Caped Crusader. So my speculation above is inspired by lingering concerns about studio meddling and seeming incongruity between WBD leadership’s intention to pivot away from debuting DC live-action content on streaming instead of theatrical on one hand, and the idea of live-action streaming shows set in The Batman’s cinematic world on the other hand.
Stay tuned and check back soon for more updates as The Batman 2 enters development and as we learn more about plans for the spinoff streaming series, and for more word on Matt Reeves’ other projects under the new first-look deal between WBD and Reeves’ production company 6th and Idaho.