New 'The Batman' Rumors Reveal Period Setting, Could Adapt These Comics

The Batman Matt Reeves Zero Year

Batman is going bat in time. New rumors emerging online report that The Batman — the upcoming Matt Reeves’ stand-alone Batman film — will be a period piece set in the 1990s that explores Batman earlier years as a caped crusader.

On Saturday, DiscussingFilm reported that The Batman will be set in the ‘90s as it stars a younger Batman who relies on his detective skills instead of the Wayne fortune to fight crime. An actor has not yet been cast to play the role. (This is the same movie that was originally going to star Ben Affleck.)

“Matt Reeves is currently polishing up the screenplay and is almost fully complete,” reports DiscussingFilm. “Reeves did more rewrites to include more action into the film with a focus set to be more on Batman’s skills as a detective as the film will centred [sic] around a mystery that Batman will have to solve, the film will also be set in the ’90s.”

Whether or not the rumor is true, it does support what has been previously made known about the film. Back in June 2018, it was reported by The Hollywood Reporter that Warner Bros. was seeking a younger actor to play Batman, to stand in contrast to Ben Affleck’s older, grizzled, Frank Miller-inspired character as seen in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League.

DiscussingFilm reports the film is looking for name actors, and not unknowns, between the ages of 25 and 33. Ben Affleck, now 46, was 40 when he was cast as Batman in 2013. The site also reports that the Penguin is said to be one of the film’s main antagonists, although Reeves told The Hollywood Reporter in January 2019 that there could be multiple villains.

“There will be a rogues gallery,” he said.

Beyond the age of Batman, the ‘90s period setting presents some interesting creative opportunities. Right now, period-piece superhero movies appear to be in vogue, with Captain Marvel starring Brie Larson having just paid a visit to the same era, and Todd Phillips’ crime drama Joker will be set in the 1980s.

Some comic book storylines, such as Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli, Batman: Year One and Scott Snyder’s Zero Year all explore Batman’s earlier years as a vigilante and could be big points of references to understand Reeves’ movie. While director Christopher Nolan tapped into Year One for his 2005 epic Batman Begins, it’s still a rich resource to explore Batman as a human being before he grows into the iconic, larger-than-life crime-fighter.

Zero Year, another origin story told in the pages of DC’s New 52 Batman by Scott Synder and James Tynion IV (with artists Greg Capullo, Danny Miki, and Rafael Albuquerque), also redefines Batman’s origins as he battles the Riddler, who has taken over all of Gotham City.

The storyline introduces Duke Thomas, a Gotham City youth who eventually becomes the superhero known as Signal and a member of the Bat-Family.

Batman Zero Year
From 'Batman' #24, which served as "Part 4" of Scott Snyder's 'Batman: Zero Year' origin reboot.

As for the film’s depiction of the ‘90s, that remains to be seen, but it will be interesting how the film stands in contrast to the Batman films released between 1989 and 1997. In a span of less than ten years, Warner Bros. went hard with the Batman film franchise, beginning with Tim Burton’s gothic-inspired Batman and Batman Returns starring Michael Keaton.

Val Kilmer would replace Keaton in 1995’s Batman Forever, a stylish, lavish adaptation helmed by Joel Schumacher. He would be replaced by George Clooney in 1997’s maligned Batman & Robin, which was essentially a ‘90s version of the 1966 TV series.

The Batman is slated to be released in theaters on June 25, 2021.

Media via DC Comics