The new 10-episode Spotify series shows Bruce Wayne in a different place than we usually see him. The director tells EW how psychological mystery particularly fit the audio format.

Batman Unburied is not like other Batman stories. For one thing, it's a narrative podcast by Spotify instead of a comic book, cartoon, or movie. For another, it begins with Bruce Wayne living a different life than the one we're used to.  

When this story begins, Bruce (voiced by Winston Duke) is not dressing up as a bat at night to punish superstitious and cowardly criminals. Instead, he's working as a forensic pathologist at a major Gotham hospital under the watchful eye of his esteemed father, Dr. Thomas Wayne (Lance Reddick). Wait, what? Yes, you read that right.

Everyone knows that the murder of Bruce Wayne's parents is the principal event in the creation of Batman (it's certainly been depicted on screen enough times by now). So it stands to reason that without that traumatizing event, Bruce may very well have followed in his parents' footsteps.

"When I was working with Chris [Nolan] on The Dark Knight movies, so much of that story was based on the shadow that Thomas Wayne cast and Bruce trying to live up to it," Batman Unburied writer and director David S. Goyer tells EW. "And so we thought, what's that relationship like if Thomas is still alive? The obvious thing you think of is if Thomas Wayne is still alive, then probably Bruce wouldn't be Batman because that was the formative experience that drove him to become Batman. We thought, would he go into the medical field? Maybe. So he's in forensics, where he straddles the line between solving crimes and doing medicine."

david goyer
David S. Goyer is the writer and director of Spotify's new 'Batman Unburied' narrative podcast
| Credit: Araya Doheny/WireImage; spotify/dc

Goyer certainly knows his way around Batman. As alluded to above, he co-wrote 2005's game-changing Batman Begins with director Christopher Nolan, has a story credit on the direct sequels The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, and returned to co-writer status for Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Outside of Gotham City, Goyer has also been a story consultant on Call of Duty games, showrunner of the AppleTV+ series Foundation, and executive producer on Netflix's upcoming adaptation of The Sandman. For such a prolific writer with plenty of experience writing Batman, the narrative podcast format allowed for new possibilities in storytelling.

"I like working at different mediums," Goyer says. "When I made the transition, for instance, to video games with Call of Duty, I had to learn some new tools. When I made the transition to VR for Vader Immortal, I also had to learn some new tools. So I was excited about picking up a few new tricks here as well. The most obvious one is that there aren't any visual cues, so you have active figure out how to deliver exposition and key plot points in a purely auditory way."

Goyer continues, "action scenes don't work very well in the purely audio space. Neither do car chases. These are things you take for granted in movies or TV. What does work really well in the auditory format is suspense, eeriness. So we leaned into that and I was excited about the possibility of delving into more of a psychological aspect for Batman and playing with some different villains."

That's always the question with a Batman story: Who's going to be the villain? The Dark Knight has perhaps the most impressive rogues' gallery in all of pop culture, but Batman Unburied begins by presenting a brand-new bad guy known as The Harvester (Sam Witwer). In addition to killing people, the Harvester also takes some of their organs, and forensic pathologist Bruce Wayne is driving himself a bit crazy trying to wrap his head around it.

Whenever the Harvester speaks in Batman Unburied, he sounds similarly nasally and desperate for attention as Paul Dano's version of the Riddler in the recent big-screen The Batman. But worry not, the Riddler is also a part of Batman Unburied in his own right, voiced by Hasan Minhaj.

"We approached the voice casting in a very non-traditional way," Goyer says. "Hasan is a huge fan of Batman comic books, but never in a million years did he think he would be asked to play the Riddler. That's why we went after him! Spotify and DC were very supportive from the beginning. Going with Winston Duke to play Bruce Wayne/Batman was incredibly exciting for me, I'm a huge fan of his. Hopefully we'll see that kind of casting crossover in the films one day."

But is the Harvester really a brand-new character, or someone we already know from the Batman mythos? At 10 episodes, Batman Unburied's longform format allowed Goyer to construct a real mystery. In other words: Expect some twists.

"Any good mystery has a series of cards that you turn over progressively," Goyer teases. "Usually one of the big tenets of a mystery is that you meet the principal bad guy early on, but you don't realize it. It will take both Bruce and the audience awhile to figure out who the real bad guy is."

The first two episodes of Batman Unburied are live now on Spotify, with subsequent installments of the 10-episode series arriving weekly.

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