If you had asked me last week about the validity of the rumors that Warner Brothers was preparing a slate of Batman-related films for 2019 to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the character’s first appearance, I would have dismissed them as ridiculous. The thought that a studio would put out multiple blockbuster movies featuring the same character in a twelve month stretch seems ludicrous and, even more importantly in Hollywood, financially risky.
But that was last week. This week, I’m not so sure. This is the week where we received the conflicting news that Matt Reeves’ The Batman film starring Ben Affleck may or may not be part of Warners’ ongoing DC Comics Extended Universe, the news that Crazy, Stupid Love co-writers and directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa had been signed to write and direct a Joker/Harley Quinn film that would be part of the DCEU and that a Joker origin film was going to be produced by Martin Scorsese that would not be part of the shared universe.
On top of those films, Warners also has a sequel to last summer’s Suicide Squad, in which Affleck’s Batman appeared, as well as a second film that would feature Suicide Squad anti-heroine Harley Quinn, Gotham City Sirens. Additionally, the studio also has Joss Whedon developing a Batgirl film and writer Bill Dubuque and director Chris McKay are working on a Nightwing film, which would feature the adventures of Batman’s former sidekick Dick Grayson after he graduates from the Robin codename.
All total, that’s seven Batman-related films that Warner Brothers is looking at making over the next couple of years. Even with the probability that not all of them make it through development and get in front of cameras, that’s still a lot of Batman-related films coming out over the next couple of years. But is it possible that the studio could have enough ready to release three or perhaps even four in the space of the twelve months of 2019?
While none of these mooted projects have announced release dates, it is conceivable that at least two of them will be ready for 2019. Warners is aiming to have Suicide Squad 2 in front of cameras by the middle of next year with the proposed Joker/Harley Quinn film shooting immediately afterwards. The expiration of holding options in both Robbie’s and Leto’s contracts have been cited as the reason why the studio would need to get those films into production in that time frame. And it would certainly position them as being releasable in the second half of 2019.
So if it is probable that we could have both Suicide Squad 2 and the Joker/Harley Quinn film ready for the second half of the year, what does Warners do in the first half of 2019? One would think that they would want to kick off a year celebrating Batman with a Batman film. But there are some complications with that.
Director Reeves has only recently come onto the Batman film project and when he did, it was announced that they were starting from scratch with the screenplay. Could he have it ready to start shooting in early in 2018? Possibly, though that may depend on when he started working on that new script. Up until the middle of last month, Reeves was finishing off and doing the promotion for War For The Planet Of The Apes. In all likelihood he has probably only been really concentrating on the project for the last month or so. Reeves could have the film shooting in perhaps six months if his pre-production parallels the screenwriting process, but depending on the complexity of the production, that would still have to scramble fast to have it ready for an early 2019 premier.
And what are the chances that any of the other projects could be good to go for a 2019 release? Whedon has been working on finishing off Justice League for Warners after Zack Snyder’s departure earlier this year. This will most likely keep him occupied right up to the film’s premier in November. Unless he has already started work on his Batgirl script while overseeing Justice League, there’s no way we’ll see that film before 2020. If Ayer’s Gotham City Sirens was ready to go, it could shoot in the early part of 2018. The only drawback there is that Robbie would be playing Harley Quinn in three films shot essentially back-to-back. And I would imagine that could be potentially straining on the actress. As for the Nightwing film, we have had no indication as to where Dubuque and Miller are in the development process. Of course, there’s always the chance that Warner Brothers has another Batman project secretly in development that could be ready to fill a potential fourth film spot. Perhaps something from their animated division?
So will Warners be releasing a number of Batman-related films in 2019 to honor the character’s 80th anniversary? The evidence suggests there is a strong possibility that they may be planning to do so. There are at least two films – Suicide Squad 2 and the untitled Joker/Harley Quinn movie – that could definitely be ready to release in that year. The absence of a clear Batman-centric film to start off the year is the only thing that is giving me pause. We’ll just have to keep watching the for further clues as to what the studio may be doing.