Along with the news that Matt Reeves's Robert Pattinson & Zoë Kravitz-starring film The Batman will be returning for a sequel, fans have been keeping an eye on what's going on with the previously-announced spinoff streaming series. In March, we learned that Colin Farrell would be reprising his role as The Penguin in a spinoff penned by showrunner Lauren LeFranc (Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and executive produced by Reeves, Farrell, LeFranc, and Dylan Clark. But when it came to the Gotham City Polie Department (G.C.P.D.)-focused series, Reeves officially revealed on Josh Horowitz's Happy Sad Confused podcast that the focus had shifted to Arkham Asylum. Now, we're hearing from screenwriter Joe Barton (Giri/Haji), who was a writer on the G.C.P.D. series before the plug was pulled, discussing what it was like dealing with the news at the same time the promotional machine was already underway for the first film.
"I gave the script over in November and HBO called to say they loved it and they were really excited. And then in January my agent called to say I'd been fired," Barton revealed during an interview with The Telegraph. With "'The Wire' set in Gotham City" being the "lazy pitch" he used to describe it, Barton went on to share what it was like being surrounded by reminders of the franchise he was no longer a part of. "If you're going to get fired from a massive franchise, don't do it two months before the film comes out. I saw Batman everywhere," the screenwriter advised, before sharing an anecdote to make his point. Needing to take notes on a script he was working on over the phone during a rainstorm, Barton could only find cover "underneath a f***ing 'Batman' poster," adding "It was like being haunted by Fathers 4 Justice." Here's a look back at Reeves's spoiler-filled episode of the Happy Sad Confused podcast, followed by some previous thoughts from Reeves and others about The Batman universe expanding:
Speaking with SFX Magazine earlier this year, Clark explained that the Penguin spinoff's storyline is very much in line with a classic Brian De Palma & Al Pacino film. "We're doing one with Colin [Farrell aka Oswald Cobblepot], seeing Oz rise to power, almost like a 'Scarface' story. It's exciting to do something like that just as a standalone, but it speaks to the character and our movie so that you'll go back to the movie [and say], 'Oh, I see that backstory there, that line refers to this,'" he explained.
Previously, Farrell shared some perspectives on both the series and the character with Entertainment Tonight, where he implied that the series would be picking up threads from the end of Reeves' film. "We have to get into what made him the man he is. And also, it will pick up where this film finished off I think. I think it'll pick up a little short time after the last frame of this film," Farrell explained. "We'll get to go on a little kind of left turn off to the world of Oz and how he's beginning to kind of dream of filling a potential power vacuum that may exist." Though not able to offer many details this early on, Farell revealed why the character is ripe for a deeper dive into what makes him tick. "It's a lovely, lovely character, and explores vulnerabilities. His violence is apparent, his propensity for violence and his ability to use it as a tool is apparent, but [also] to see we all have soft spots. Every single person. And to be able to find that location, dig around it would be fun," he added.
Also earlier this year, Reeves offered his thoughts about expanding the film's universe, HBO Max's interest in exploring characters & aspects from the film, and if there could be more spinoffs on the way:
On How "The Batman" Standing On Its Own Helps with Spinoff Ideas: "What I really wanted this movie to do is create a Batverse. 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."
On How HBO Max's Interest in More "The Batman" Led to Penquin Spinoff: "I was thrilled by that. 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."
On What HBO Max Affords Him the Opportunity to Do with The Characters: "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 anyone story that was Tony Sopranos'. It was all one epic novel about his life. 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."