Today in But Why Though? news, Walter Hamada, the president of DC Films, told The New York Times that the new game plan for DC Films going forward will include TWO Batman franchises featuring two different Batmen. One will be Robert Pattinson, existing on one alternate Earth, and the other, yet to be cast, will be taking over for Ben Affleck in the DC Extended Universe that features Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Flash, et cetera. Two Batmen? At the same time? In this economy?!
I can actually see Hamada’s logic here. We already knew they would be introducing a multiverse concept to the DC universe, and that Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck will be returning as their respective Batmen in the upcoming Flash movie. And we know that they TECHNICALLY had two Jokers at the same time when Joaquin Phoenix won an Oscar for Joker while Jared Leto is still technically on the hook for the Suicide Squad-era Joker. And Hamada is right that “audiences are sophisticated”, as he says, and will be able to sort it all out. But where this breaks down is in the simultaneous franchises. Keaton and Affleck and TBD Batman running around in The Flash will be a one-off, just like all the Spider-Men reuniting for Spider-Man 3 (version 2). But in the case of the Spider-Men, when that specific movie is over, Marvel will be left with one Spider-Man. The others won’t continue forward. Sony does have an animated Spider-verse, too, but that features Miles Morales, a whole separate character with different issues and style than Peter Parker. What Hamada is talking about is just straight up two of the same guy running around at the same time.
And yes, audiences are sophisticated enough to work it all out. After all, they kept track of the ever-expanding MCU, plus all the characters and conflicts in Game of Thrones—audiences aren’t stupid. The problem facing DC is not one of confusion, it’s one of caring. Audiences just aren’t going to CARE about two Batmen. They will pick one they prefer, and the other will be stuck in the preferred Batman’s shadow. It’s already happened with the Joker. Ask anyone and they will definitely have a preference between Leto and Phoenix, and probably also an opinion on which one they would like to see more of. Besides the risk of running Batman completely into the ground through overexposure, Hamada is risking audiences simply tuning out one of his two Batmen. Why split the vote of instead of throwing all resources and support into making sure RBattz works?
I honestly think this is a reaction to a vocal minority of toxic fans who reacted badly to Goth Bruce Wayne in the first trailer for Matt Reeves’ The Batman. The impression I keep getting from DC Films is that they do not trust any single vision for the future of their superheroes, and if there is anything less than unanimous enthusiasm for what they’re doing, they just abandon it immediately. That SOME people whined about Bruce Wayne coming across as a mopey weirdo apparently sent them into another tailspin which has now prompted this idea of just doing every possible take on Batman all at the same time. The only other explanation is that though he believes audiences sophisticated enough to follow a multiverse, Hamada does not think audiences are sophisticated enough to care about second, third, and fourth tier DC heroes. There are literally thousands of DC characters they could make movies about, but they keep going back to the Batman well like they don’t think people will care about anyone else. I would like to remind everyone that Marvel is currently working on their third Ant-Man movie.
One other interesting thing Hamada said in this interview is that the executives at DC Films consider Zack Snyder’s director’s cut of Justice League to be a “storytelling cul-de-sac”, meaning Snyder’s vision for this universe won’t continue on past the release of Justice League 2.0 next March. So there’s that.