What a week for the Gotham City news cycle! While reports circulated that Warner Bros. is working on two different films focusing on eternal Bat-nemesis the Joker, yesterday saw the resurfacing of an interview with solo Batman film director Matt Reeves. In the July interview, Reeves described the film as a “standalone…not part of the extended universe.”
As I noted yesterday, all of those terms are vague enough to mean anything. “Universe” is a vague term as applied to film franchises. A “cinematic universe” is generally meant to refer to a series with strong continuity – like how every Marvel property mentions the attack in New York from Avengers at least once. Conversely, projects like Deadpool or Logan nominally share a universe with the X-Men series, but are also clearly meant to be breakaway entries, with minimal overlap in terms of plot.
The latter appears to be what Reeves hopes for his Batman project. The War for the Planet of the Apes director made some minor clarifications Thursday on Twitter.
You could interpret some 👀 in Reeves’ note about “cameos servicing other stories.” (Translation, maybe: “I really didn’t want another superpowered character dropping in randomly every 20 minutes just so we could put that character on the movie poster twice.”) But Warner Bros. has always expressed hope that their superhero mega-franchise could allow individual filmmakers to explore different stylistic directions with those solo-hero spin-offs.
It remains unclear just how different the narrative directions will be, with some recent reports implying that projects like the Joker origin story will simply ignore other films with the characters. So you can interpret Reeves’ clarification as a kind of compromise. Yes, we will be in the same universe as Justice League; no, we will not see any other characters from Justice League. Hey, universes are supposed to be big.