Expect More Unconnected, Standalone DC Projects Following Success With The Batman

Ever since Marvel released the crossover extravaganza "The Avengers" to game-changing success in 2012, rival studios have fallen all over themselves attempting to recreate the (supposedly) guaranteed box office profits of diving headfirst into the shared universe business and raking in the cash that comes with audiences getting a chance to see multiple heroes on-screen at the same time. While the Marvel Cinematic Universe continued to thrive, the following years provided a few instances of notorious creative misfires and embarrassing flops: Sony's "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" in 2014 is pretty much a textbook example of putting the cart before the horse and WB/DC's theatrical cut of the 2017 "Justice League" tried so hard to please everybody that it ultimately ended up satisfying no one.

With Warner Bros. in particular, their slate of DC movies since the conclusion of Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" trilogy has encouraged the prevailing narrative among fans that they've essentially been trying to chase the coattails of Marvel. After the bumpy road that defined filmmaker Zack Snyder's tenure (though many fans viewed the HBO Max release of "Zack Snyder's Justice League" as some much-needed vindication), the DC Universe continues to expand the franchise — as most recently seen in the DC sizzle reel that has preceded many showings of "The Batman" – with the "Aquaman" sequel, the long in-development "Black Adam" movie, and even their own response to the multiverse crossover of "Spider-Man: No Way Home" with "The Flash."

"The Batman" stands alone from the rest by virtue of, well, standing alone. The Robert Pattinson-starring movie contains no indications of Superman flying around somewhere in Metropolis or Wonder Woman waiting to jump into the action to save the day at the last possible moment. By all accounts, the marching orders for the film when Matt Reeves was brought in was simply to make a good movie, first and foremost. As Warner Bros. CEO Toby Emmerich touted during a talk with Deadline, "When [Matt Reeves] pitched the first draft of the script, it harkened back to Batman as the world's greatest detective. He talked about the Warner Bros. gangster movies of old and capturing that gangster DNA."

So will "The Batman" mark the beginning of a new era of DC movies? Emmerich maybe isn't going quite that far, but his response is both obvious and rather telling at the same time. Check out his full comments below.

'Quality is the most important factor'

The Bat-signal isn't the only thing lighting things up — "The Batman" is currently flexing its muscles at the box office as we speak, proving that recruiting someone of Matt Reeves' caliber to direct the next iteration of DC's most popular (and profitable) hero was a sound creative and business decision to make. Never mind the relative risk of taking a major detour from the ongoing DC Universe storyline (which still has Ben Affleck in the cape and cowl for "The Flash," mind you) and opening up a wholly separate, disconnected world altogether. According to Warner Bros.' Toby Emmerich, we can expect to see more of that approach in the future. As he told Deadline:

"The secret of the movie business is quality. It's the best business strategy for both theatrical motion pictures and superhero movies. The movies don't have to all have the same tone, or interlock with other DC movies, or have an Easter egg that sets up another film. Quality is the most important factor for a studio, and the biggest thing you can do to influence quality is the filmmaker that you hire."

I can already hear all the "No, duh" reactions to the bold statement alleging that the secret to success in this industry happens to be ... making good movies. Who knew! But sift through the blatant corporate-speak terminology and it sure seems like, in addition to taking a (perhaps unintentional?) potshot at Marvel movies, Emmerich expresses a willingness to continue to bring in passionate, opinionated filmmakers with strong visions to play around in the DC sandbox as they see fit. Zack Snyder fans will inevitably wonder where this attitude was during recent years, but better late than never, I guess!

Part of the reason why "The Batman" feels so refreshing comes from how it never gets distracted by the kind of franchise-building that short-circuits so many other superhero movies. If we can get more films like that in the years to come, personally I'll never end up complaining about a lack of superhero cameos or crossovers. Now let's just hope these plans don't change once again if/when "The Flash" makes $1 billion at the box office after bringing Michael Keaton back.

"The Batman" is currently playing in theaters.