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The Most Promising Batman Spinoff Just Got Axed

Matt Reeves’ Arkham Asylum series is no longer moving forward at DC Studios.

Jeffrey Wright and Robert Pattinson in The Batman
Warner Bros. Pictures

Matt Reeves’ The Batman might have been the best thing to come out of DC’s Extended Universe, and Warner Bros. rightly didn’t waste any time trying to build on its foundation. But what began with a few promising spinoffs has turned into some wasted opportunities, especially in the face of a messy, franchise-wide reboot.

With James Gunn and Peter Safran attempting to rebuild the DCU (almost) from the ground up, many elements of the “old” DCEU are falling through the cracks. The duo are fashioning the DC universe in the image of Marvel and its own interconnected franchise, and that means that DC’s standalone projects could be in jeopardy.

That’s true even for The Batman and its planned spinoffs: while Reeves was always meant to build out his Batverse independently, Gunn and Safran still have something of an influence on the projects he pitches. Last year, Gunn claimed that Reeves would be “producing stories both within his The Batman universe and within the DCU.” He and Safran apparently bought a pitch from Reeves shortly after their appointment at DC Studios, an arrangement that seemed promising (if a bit confusing) at first glance. Now, though, that very project — a series set in Gotham’s own Arkham Asylum — has officially been abandoned.

Reeves was developing an Arkham series for Gunn’s DCU, but the project is no longer moving forward.

Warner Bros. Pictures

Reeves’ Arkham series underwent a few permutations before getting the axe. The project began as a procedural that would focus on the inner workings of Gotham PD, with Jeffrey Wright (who played officer James Gordon in The Batman) likely to reprise his role. It later “started to evolve” into a series about Arkham, according to Reeves — and once Gunn and Safran became the new creative co-chairs of DC Studios, the project evolved once more. Rather than a story for Reeves’ Batverse, the Arkham series would be part of the new DCU continuity, which will have its own Batman. That felt confusing enough in itself, especially with a real demand for more stories set in the world of The Batman. Now it seems that Gunn and Safran’s efforts were in vain: Variety reports that the Arkham series is no longer moving forward at all, a frustrating development for anyone following DC’s efforts behind the scenes.

The DCU reboot is still in its early stages, so a few growing pains are certainly par the course. But Gunn and Safran’s strategy seems a bit more complicated than it actually needs to be: Gunn himself has been cherrypicking which elements of the old guard will carry into the new regime, and his DCU already feels muddled as a result. Only a handful of established actors will reprise their roles in the new DCU, while key heroes — think Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and even Harley Quinn — will be played by new actors. Whether that will matter in the grand scheme remains to be seen, but at the moment that choice feels misguided.

The Batman was always meant to stand alone, and it should probably stay that way.

Warner Bros. Pictures

The same could be said for the way the DCU is handling its “Elseworlds” projects. Again, The Batman was always meant to stand apart from the larger DC universe, and that made sense before the studio announced its massive overhaul. Now, it’d make a lot more sense to either leave Reeves out of the new continuity, or just bring the filmmaker and his take on Batman into the DCU proper. This tug-of-war between timelines won’t help anyone in the long run, and it’s already resulted in a big wasted opportunity.

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