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How The Batman Sets Up the Gotham PD Prequel Series

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After a years-long wait, The Batman has finally arrived in theaters, and it has established a whole new corner of the live-action DC multiverse along with it. Even before the Matt Reeves-helmed project was released, it became clear that Warner Bros. had high hopes for the saga, with multiple spinoff series in development for the HBO Max streaming service. The first, which has been in development since 2020, is a spinoff surrounding the Gotham City Police Department, which is believed to be a prequel to the events of the film. While the show has shuffled its behind-the-scenes team in the years since, and does not have any concrete details regarding its cast or premiere date, there’s a chance that The Batman could have hinted at what’s to come in the series. Major spoilers for The Batman lurk below! Only look if you want to know!

For starters, the film’s central plot involves Bruce Wayne / Batman (Robert Pattinson) investigating a series of traps placed by Edward Nashton / The Riddler (Paul Dano), which begin to reveal a conspiracy at the heart of Gotham City. In particular, a number of high-ranking officials — including the mayor, the police commissioner, and the district attorney — were personally pocketing the money from the Gotham Renewal fund, which Thomas Wayne set up shortly before his untimely death in hopes of using it to better the city. Riddler’s plan, in part, was to expose that corruption, and also kill the relevant guilty parties. It certainly stands to reason that the GCPD series could showcase some of the earlier instances of that, with appearances from the likes of Commissioner Pete Savage (Alex Ferns) and District Attorney Gil Colson (Peter Sarsgaard) prior to their murders, and possibly more context into the fake drug bust they orchestrated surrounding Salvatore Maroni. Jim Gordon actor Jeffrey Wright has also played coy about his involvement in the series, although it definitely feels like a possibility.

Beyond that, the series is kind of an open book in terms of which characters to follow, especially as it is not following the established lore of the Gotham Central comic series. That being said, there is one thread from later on in the film that could still factor into the series — the appearance of the “Unseen Arkham Prisoner” (Barry Keoghan), who is heavily implied to be that universe’s version of The Joker. Keoghan was originally announced to be cast in the project as Officer Stanley Merkel, a somewhat-recurring GCPD officer who originated in Batman: The Animated Series. Reeves has recently revealed that that casting announcement was to throw people off of the possibility of him playing The Joker, even going so far as filming fake scenes of Keoghan as Merkel.

At this point, The Batman‘s version of The Joker is a beautifully ambiguous blank slate — so if the series did want to surprise fans, it could showcase some of Keoghan’s character’s descent into madness, whether starting out as Merkel or another established Joker alias entirely. This could allow for a Joker “origin story” to be told in a wildly different format and context from the 2019 Joker solo film, and also provide some interesting context for when Keoghan’s take on the character pops up next. It also would help justify Reeves’ recent comments about Arkham Asylum (conveniently, where Joker is when we meet him in The Batman) factoring into a spinoff series.

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The Batman is now playing exclusively in theaters.

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