This was never really in doubt, especially since The Batman is currently 2022’s highest-grossing movie, with Warner Bros. Pictures set to build an expanded media universe around it. The Batman won praise for establishing a familiar but fresh take on the Dark Knight and creating a city where every shadow bursts with the threat of vengeance. These are the Dark Knight’s early days when he’s earning the trust of the Gotham City Police Department and the fear of the city’s villains. Despite the journey undertaken by Bruce Wayne behind the cowl — from suspicious street stalker to the city’s hope — there are still plenty of empty rooms at Arkham.
The Batman was packed with references and Easter eggs that hint at storylines to come, taking the lead from eight decades of comic book story arcs. The Riddler’s devastation of Gotham left Batman’s city split and divided, ready to be carved up by a new class of criminals who fill in the void left by collapsing organized crime. It took inspiration from major comic events Zero Year and No Man’s Land. In the latter, a 7.6 earthquake decimated Gotham, providing new opportunities for many of his enemies.
The Batman director Matt Reeves has indicated that he wants to establish a universe on the screen with the same dysfunctional family of invaluable friends and dangerous enemies as the comics. But as Reeves has stressed, “I just feel drawn to finding the grounded version of everything.” So don’t expect Ten-Eyed Man, Crazy Quilt, or Killer Croc to pop up anytime soon.
We can expect more villains to arrive in Gotham, albeit with their comic backgrounds adjusted. Of course, Reeves’ interpretation leaves the possibility that famous villains will undergo gender reversals. So who could be lined up to take on the Dark Knight in the Batman sequel?
Colin Farrell’s charismatic turn as Oswald Cobblepot will be hard to keep off the screen. We know an HBO Max series is lined up to fill in the years waddling up to and beyond The Batman. It’s likely to arrive before the sequel film, and plot strands in the TV show could interlink as DC’s ambitions for a shared universe take shape.
The Batman showed Gotham City changing as organized crime gave way to costumes and masks, and it’ll be a surprise if Cobblepot’s Ice Lounge isn’t at its heart. His journey between old and new Gotham may be one of the universe’s most fascinating, and he certainly looked ready for the challenge at the end of the first film.
The Batman’s determined attempt to bring a more authentic Batman to the screen includes a growing gallery of opponents. Some or all of them are likely to escape from Arkham State Hospital, including one of its recent patients. If the Riddler isn’t a significant focus in the sequel, it’s unlikely that he’ll remain locked up for long. Paul Dano’s upcoming Riddler: Year One series will undoubtedly keep him alive in the minds of fans.
We have a strong female lead in Catwoman, but she’s unlikely to fall off the edge of a building, let alone into full villainy. The Batman’s universe should be looking at Gotham’s compelling female villains, and few felons are due big-screen redemption the way Poison Ivy is. Ironically, Dr. Pamela Isley is one of the more challenging foes to “ground” with her full comic book origins, but her ecological agenda is more relevant than ever.
Fans were surprised and thrilled at the number of references The Batman made to Hush. Despite his recent arrival, Hush is a comic book favorite you can see fitting in with his swaddled face, trench coat, and dual pistols. Then there are the extremes he’ll go to to exact vengeance on Bruce Wayne ⏤ the perfect step up from Riddler’s campaign, perhaps. Could the doomed investigative reporter Edward Elliot, mentioned in The Batman, be related to bandaged psychopath Tommy Elliot?
The flooded Gotham we left at the end of The Batman is the perfect environment for new villains to emerge and stake their claims to parts of the city. In the original No Man’s Land story arc, Mr. Freeze took control of the city power plant, holding the people of Gotham to ransom for electricity. Despite the more realistic Gotham he’s created, Reeves has expressed an interest in bringing the character to the streets. Mr. Freeze is due some redemption on the movie screen, although even Batman and Robin brought out the essential tragedy at the cold heart of his story.
The sequel will undoubtedly build on Riddler’s sprawling campaign against Gotham’s elite. Who better to join him in his mission than arch-strategist and powerhouse Bane? However, this grounded universe will likely shun the villain’s super-serum origins. He arrived in the comics fusing his tactical brain with superhuman strength thanks to the addictive Venom drug. Since then, he’s overcome his dependency while retaining his threat, even when more of an antihero.
The Batman didn’t leave the hint of this oncoming storm that some people thought. When Batman injected himself with chemicals to savagely take out the last of Riddler’s followers, it wasn’t a sign that venom exists in this universe. The Art of the Batman book revealed that it was a handy shot of adrenaline.
We saw a glimpse of the future in the curious exchange between Riddler and an unseen Arkham patient near the end of The Batman. Matt Reeves has denied the scene is sequel bait, but Barry Keoghan didn’t don the makeup for nothing. It’s clear that this version of the Joker isn’t the complete package. Although the famous foes already know each other, expect the rivalry between Joker and Batman to be a slow-burn. If The Batman’s heading for a trilogy as is expected, then we’ll expect the Clown Prince of Crime to hit his stride in the finale.
The Arkham series developed for HBO Max suggests the famous institution will hold an important place in this universe. Arkham State Hospital is the tinder box in the Batman Universe, but the first movie tied it intriguingly close to the Dark Knight. Taking the lead from the Batman: Earth One storyline, it revealed that Bruce Wayne’s mother came from the Arkham family. Could it play a more prominent role in this movie universe than previously?
A recent comic addition, the Arkham Knight originated in the hugely popular video game of the same name. In DC Comics continuity, they are a mysterious vigilante with a grudge against Batman who fights on behalf of the asylum’s inmates.
As we’re heading into Year Three of the Dark Knight’s career, we can expect the number of Batman’s allies to grow along with his enemies. We’ve already met Catwoman and Jim Gordon. A natural next step is the expansion of the Bat-Family, including ward Dick Grayson as Robin. But Batman mythology tells us there’s another friend who’ll come into play soon.
Early in Batman’s career, a pact between him, Gordon, and ambitious District Attorney Harvey Dent took Gotham’s untouchable crime lords to task. The Batman’s already seen off Carmine Falcone, but there are plenty of ways to watch Dent transform into conflicted villain Two Face. It already looks like the city’s new mayor is taking up part of Dent’s traditional role.
The Court of Owls
This secret organization was mentioned during The Batman’s promotional rounds, with Robert Pattinson and Paul Dano expressing interest in this relatively new but dangerous cabal. Introduced during DC Comics’ New 52 era, the Court of Owls has drawn together the most influential citizens of Gotham since the founding of the city — but so quietly, even the World’s Greatest Detective took years to discover them.
The Court might not sound like a significant threat, but its army of brainwashed and cryogenically frozen Talons is one of the Dark Knight’s greatest threats. The Batman did a good job of undermining Bruce Wayne’s family history and the heart of his mission, and there were big hints that there were major forces behind Carmine Falcone’s actions. As Batman becomes a greater force in the city and a beacon for its citizens, it would attract the attention of the Court if they hadn’t already had their eyes on him for decades. We can hear the sound of Talons defrosting already.