Warner Bros’ DCEU Reboot Plan Already Has A Batman & Joker Problem

Warner Bros' plan to reboot the DC Extended Universe needs to face some problems when it comes to Joker and The Batman. After the 2022 merger of Discovery Inc. and WarnerMedia, it was announced that Warner Bros Discovery will be overseeing changes in the DCEU and formulating a new plan for the film franchise, akin to what Marvel Studios have done with the MCU. While this development could be great for the franchise, especially considering the lackluster response to many DCEU projects, there are some hurdles that Warner Bros needs to overcome when creating their new series of shared universe films.


Beginning officially in 2013 with Man of Steel, the DCEU has always tried to keep up with the massive success of the MCU, but the janky process has often produced rushed, effects-driven films that bear very little continuity between them. The president of the new Warner Bros. Discovery, David Zaslav, has revealed that he believes that DC films have "[lacked] coherent creative and brand strategy," which implies that a major overhaul is coming. What shape this will take has yet to be revealed. With Warner Bros' new plan to revitalize and prioritize top-tier DC superheroes such as Superman, it seems the shape of the DCEU will soon be changing.

Related: Copying Marvel? The DCEU Made This Mistake Already

If the plan is to completely reboot DCEU films, effectively starting from scratch, then popular films such as 2019's Joker and 2022's The Batman pose a serious problem for the new budding franchise. Originally billed as standalone films separate to the more family-friendly DCEU, Joker and The Batman both rely on their darker tones to provide more grounded and realistic stories. Considering this, it may not be feasible to reconcile these films into the new main DCEU franchise unless Warner Bros. Discovery decide to take the new film series in a vastly different direction.

Joker Is Successful, But Can’t Happen Again

DC Joaquin Phoenix Joker Continuity

The Clown Prince of Crime is likely to be a large part of any new franchise created under the supervision of Warner Bros. Discovery since the character is the archenemy of Batman, who will certainly be a priority character. Before the merger, three different versions of the Joker were in play in separate DC projects, played by Jared Leto in the DCEU, Barry Keoghan in The Batman, and Joaquin Phoenix in Joker, with the latter being the most highly acclaimed adaptation. Despite the success of 2019's Joker, it seems unlikely that this film will be tied into a new shared universe like the DCEU.

Joker was consciously produced as a completely standalone project, which is counter-logical to Marvel Studios' approach that DC may be about to emulate. Even though a sequel, Joker: Folie à Deux, is in production, Joker was never designed to be a franchise film. If Warner Bros. Discovery choose to take their new DCEU down a darker path, Joker could work as the kick-starter of the franchise, especially with the connections to Bruce Wayne in the film and the introduction of new character such as Lady Gaga's Harley Quinn in Folie à Deux. However, it's more likely that Joker and its sequel will still be seen as side projects to the grander DCEU, and audiences could see the debut of a new Joker in the revitalized Warner Bros. Discovery shared universe.

Can Robert Pattinson’s Batman Be The Main DCEU Dark Knight?

DC Robert Pattinson Batman Continuity

It's no secret that Ben Affleck, the DCEU's current Batman, has had his issues with various DC productions, especially Justice League, so it stands to reason that someone else could take up the mantle of the Dark Knight in Warner Bros. Discovery's DCEU. With the success of Matt Reeves' The Batman, it's possible that Robert Pattinson could fill this position, becoming DC's version of what Robert Downey Jr. was to the MCU, with continuity for the new shared franchise being built out from The Batman and its upcoming sequels. However, this poses its own problems for the future of the DCEU.

Related: The DCEU Just Can't Catch A Break, Huh?

Marvel Studios have become a well-oiled machine when it comes to producing family-friendly films and TV series' that all connect to each other, but the dark and gritty tones of The Batman doesn't lend itself to this kind of all ages entertainment. The beginnings of the MCU were well-received because there was a clear plan in place to eventually crossover projects into The Avengers, which a proper DC shared universe will surely try to emulate with a Justice League film, while this plan could certainly work, albeit with greater thought and effort placed into each specific project, Warner Bros. Discovery would need to ignore the family market to produce films with a darker nature if The Batman is going to be the stepping stone to the new series. Focusing on a more adult audience has proven to be successful with both Joker and The Batman, whereas the current state of the more watered-down DCEU hasn't been well received, so it would make sense for Warner Bros. Discovery to take DC projects in this new direction.

The merger between Warner Bros. and Discovery has certainly thrown the future of the DCEU into disarray, but it could be the best move for the franchise as new projects being released might share more continuity with each other and could potentially take on a darker, more adult tone that goes hand-in-hand with many DC characters. There are still a collection of movies in development for the current DCEU, some with release dates leading into 2023, so it's yet to be seen what shape the new DCEU will take. With sequels to both Joker and The Batman in production as separate films to the shared universe, it seems that Warner Bros. Discovery has some serious work to do to bring together their fragmented franchise.

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