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Why be in the DC Extended Universe when you can create your own 'verse?

That's essentially the approach director Matt Reeves has taken to The Batman, starring Robert Pattinson as the Dark Knight. Set in the masked vigilante's second year, the film is a murder mystery involving familiar faces from the canon: the Riddler (Paul Dano), here a serial killer targeting Gotham's corrupt elite; Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz), who has yet to become Catwoman; and the Penguin (Colin Farrell), a.k.a. Oswald Cobblepot, who is only a mid-level mob lieutenant in the movie and hasn't achieved crime boss status yet.

While The Batman was conceived as a self-contained story and takes place outside Warner Bros.'s DCEU continuity, Reeves has already started dreaming of ways to expand this new world beyond the big screen. As previously announced, the Cloverfield director is executive producing two spin-offs in development at HBO Max: a drama about the Gotham City Police Department, which was announced in July 2020; and a series about the Penguin's rise to power.

"What I really wanted this movie to do is create a Batverse," Reeves tells EW in our latest digital cover story. "You don't do a story and go, 'This is Chapter 1' because you might not get to do Chapter 2. So, the story had to stand on its own. But the thing about it is that the Bat world is so rich with character that as you're starting to come to an end, you can already start thinking about the next thing. Because the idea, of course, is that Gotham's story never ends." 

The Batman
(L-R) Robert Pattinson and Matt Reeves on 'The Batman' set.
| Credit: Jonathan Olley/DC Comics/Warner Bros.

According to Reeves, the Penguin show came out of discussions with HBO Max, which not only wanted shows about off-shoot characters but main ones, too, from the movie.

"I was thrilled by that," says Reeves, who co-created Felicity with J. J. Abrams and created the recent NBC drama Ordinary Joe. "I said [to HBO Max], 'To be honest with you, the thing that was going to be the seeds of what I thought the next story could be in terms of the Penguin is that I saw there being this kind of 'American dream in Gotham' sort of story, almost like Scarface; the rise of this character who we all know will achieve mythic status.' He is underestimated and he's like a time bomb... They were like, 'Oh my God, we're in!' And that was really exciting because, by that point, Colin had already given life to this character."

While Reeves can't reveal which other characters they're thinking about doing shows about, he's looking forward to these projects because they'll be "more character-focused than you can even do in a feature," he says.

"I love the idea of doing a story where you're really telling chapters of a character's life the way that The Sopranos did, right? There wasn't any one story that was Tony Sopranos'. It was all one epic novel about his life," says Reeves. "I think that to me is what's thrilling about long-form and the idea of being able to have created this version of the world [in The Batman] and then pull pieces off of that to do this kind of expansive storytelling."

The Batman opens in theaters March 4.

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