The Batman’s box office triumph proves DC still has the power to take on Marvel

Zoe Kravitz and Robert Pattinson in The Batman
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Batman may bring audiences to a particularly grotty version of Gotham City, but there’s no raining on the parade of the movie’s performance at the global box office. 

Matt Reeves’ take on the Caped Crusader has stormed to the second-biggest opening weekend of the pandemic era (behind only Spider-Man: No Way Home), earning $128.5 million in the US and $248.5 million worldwide.

No Way Home scored an almighty global debut of $587.2 million on its way to becoming the fourth biggest movie of all time, but The Batman’s early commercial success marks a similarly impressive triumph given the turbulent reception endured by many DC movies in recent years.

It’s surprising, too, that Robert Pattinson’s Dark Knight is performing so well irrespective of those mixed reactions to previous DC features like Justice League and Wonder Woman 1984. Not only does a near three-hour runtime make The Batman the longest Batman movie ever made, but Reeves’ version of the screen legend is rain-soaked, leather-clad and wholly unlike any superhero flick before it.

If critical reception is anything to go by, that approach has proven to the movie’s credit – in our own review, we said The Batman achieves “unique blend of detective noir, horror, psychological thriller” – though its unconventional aesthetic was far from a guaranteed win for Warner Bros. studios (despite the similarity expectation-defying success of 2019’s Joker). 

In fact, The Batman often plays more like a Hitchcockian horror movie than crowd-pleasing comic book adventure – a deliberate choice, director Reeves told TechRadar, and one evident in the film’s extensive marketing material prior to release – which makes its box office credentials all the more surprising. 

So, could The Batman finally be the DC movie to kick-start a new era for the DCEU?

The (real) dawn of justice?

It certainly looks that way. Reeves’ detective epic is, at the very least, guaranteed to kick off a new Batman franchise – while the movie’s ending doesn’t necessarily hint at the events of future Pattinson-led instalments, the director himself had already expressed an interest in shooting a follow-up movie before The Batman had registered its impressive box office debut. 

Speaking to reporters at The Batman’s LA premiere (via the Bat_Source Twitter fan account), Reeves admitted that he and studio Warner Bros. “have started talking about another [Batman] movie.”

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But we know that other projects set in Reeves’ Batman universe are in development, too. Colin Farrell has confirmed he’ll be returning in a serialized Penguin spin-off on HBO Max, while a further Gotham-based series (from Giri/Haji creator Joe Barton) is also headed to Warner’s streamer.

It’s not yet clear how The Batman will play into wider DCEU projects – we know that the movie doesn’t exist in the same timeline as those featuring the Justice League heroes – though we’ve seen Marvel successfully pull off some franchise-hopping hijinks of late (a trend set to continue with Doctor Strange 2).

With former Batman star Michael Keaton confirmed to appear in the upcoming The Flash movie, too, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility to imagine that Robert Pattinson and co. could traverse DC universes in some form or another (though don't expect R-Batz to face Joaquin Phoenix's Joker any time soon).

What’s more, after the surprising success of James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad and its sister show, Peacemaker, the next few years mark an ideal time for DC to make critical gains towards reclaiming its comic book crown from Marvel (a battle just as likely to be fought on HBO Max and Disney Plus as it is in theaters).

Axel Metz
Senior Staff Writer

Axel is a London-based Senior Staff Writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from the latest Apple developments to newest movies as part of the site's daily news output. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion. 

Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned an NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme.