It's official: The Batman is a massive box office hit and thoughts are naturally turning to the sequel. Nothing has been confirmed yet, although director Matt Reeves is said to be talking to Warner Bros about The Batman 2.
The closing sequences of The Batman certainly leave the narrative wide open as we speculate as to the ongoing emotional journey of Robert Pattinson's Bruce Wayne, his allies and enemies.
With spoilers, here's what we would like to see in The Batman 2.
THE BATMAN SPOILERS AHEAD
1. Bruce Wayne continues to come to terms with his Batman legend
At the end of The Batman, Bruce Wayne reconciles the need for vigilante justice with the need for redemption. His moment of awakening comes during a humbling, poignant moment (accentuated by hardboiled voiceover) as he helps an injured person be airlifted to hospital. At that exact moment, Batman learns that, in addition to doling out vengeful, vigilante justice, he must also help those in need. This mirrors the opening of the movie in which Bruce saves a man from a group of thugs but finds himself incapable of consoling the terrified individual, despite the fact that he saved his life.
The Batman, therefore, is transfigured into a symbol for hope and healing, as well as fear and retribution. By being put to the ultimate test and foiling The Riddler (Paul Dano), Batman visibly cements his status as a crimefighter who can do good for the ordinary people of Gotham Cty. Bruce's journey towards this moment is also aided by coming to terms with the death of his parents. He addresses the wound that exists in his past and learns to move forward, which makes us anticipate his emotional arc in The Batman 2. We imagine this will have an impact on the relationship with his closest ally, Jim Gordon (Jeffrey Wright), whose belief in The Batman is now vindicated.
Robert Pattinson's take on Batman is almost certainly the most introverted and haunted out of all the live-action portrayals. This is his signature, so how will Pattinson and Matt Reeves maintain this edge while also signalling that Bruce Wayne has matured via his battle with The Riddler? However it transpires, it will surely allow Robert Pattinson to dig even further into the sort of acting complexity demonstrated in The Lighthouse, High Life and other films.
2. Catwoman learns from her experiences outside of Gotham City
Despite their shared attraction, Batman and Catwoman/Selina Kyle (Zoe Kravitz) know that they are on separate paths. Bruce Wayne's destiny is intrinsically tied to Gotham City, and although Selina Kyle assists him during the final battle with the surrogate Riddlers, she cannot stay. Instead, she takes off on her bike and leaves the city limits, Batman watching pensively in his own rear-view mirror.
Given that The Batman marks the start of Catwoman's journey, we imagine she has a lot to learn outside the parameters of Gotham. We imagine that this is where she will truly hone her skills and grow into her own legend. Whether The Batman 2 opts to show this, intercutting between events in Gotham and events relating to Catwoman outside of it, remains to be seen.
She's already come to terms with Carmine Falcone (John Turturro) being her father, so unless there's more family history to be mined, we imagine that the minutiae of her story will be occupied with her gaining more practical skills and artistry in the realm of cat-burgling. Perhaps there's a case to be made for Selina defiantly turning her back on a city in need, and then ultimately returning to Gotham to complete her own act of redemption?
3. The Penguin consolidates his influence
There are small-screen plans for The Penguin, played by an unrecognisable Colin Farrell. Putting all that aside, what will happen to the character if he returns to the big screen? He surely will – one of the final shots of The Batman is Oswald Cobblepot glaring out of the window at a Gotham City that is poised to become his.
With his so-called 'master' or employer Carmine Falcone out of the way, executed by The Riddler, Cobblepot could easily fill the void and plot to take his revenge against Batman. And where better to marshal this influence than the secretive underground mob nightclub, Iceberg Lounge? We'd love to return here seeing as it provided plenty of opportunity for visually arresting set-pieces, including Selina's clandestine mission to spy on the Gotham underworld.
4. Alfred recovers and becomes more receptive to the idea of The Batman
There wasn't much of Alfred in The Batman, so we'd welcome the opportunity for Andy Serkis to feature more prominently in the sequel. Having been blown up by one of The Riddler's traps, and having subsequently reconciled with Bruce Wayne as to the circumstances over his parents' death, one imagines that Alfred is now on a more even keel.
Maybe this is the moment where Alfred, upon recovering, starts to willingly reconfigure Wayne Manor and serve his master in the art of maintaining the Batman legend?
5. The Riddler teams up with The Joker
Now, this is the part we're really curious about. There's already plenty of speculation as to whether Barry Keoghan's Joker will be the primary villain in The Batman 2. But what can't be denied is that the first film's main antagonist, The Riddler, is still alive by the time the end credits roll, incarcerated within Arkham Asylum. The Riddler is understandably distraught that his attempt at anarchistic chaos, engulfing Gotham City in floodwater, was thwarted by Batman.
This will surely make him even more desperate if he re-appears in the sequel, which, in turn, may well make him dependent on the Joker's 'charity', so to speak. What if The Joker feeds him sweet nothings and manipulative ideas from the cell next door? Maybe the two will engineer an Arkham jailbreak from within, subsequently putting Batman through a dangerous new test?
We'd love to see The Batman 2 adapt the events of the classic graphic novel Arkham Asylum, in which Bruce Wayne fights an insurrection of super-villains within Gotham's most notorious building. Grant Morrison's groundbreaking comic features an especially demonic Joker as well as an assortment of other memorable DC figures. Maybe this is the jumping-off point for The Batman 2?
The notion of a lone Batman trapped inside a forbidding edifice, fighting a host of villains both familiar and unfamiliar, all the while building to a climactic Joker confrontation, could be very exciting indeed. It would certainly fit with the moody and murky aesthetic of Reeves' initial Batman movie, and throwing a returning Riddler into the mix, plus his inscrutable puzzles, would add extra spice.