‘The Batman’s Cop Show Spinoff Has Evolved Into an Arkham Asylum Show
Well before The Batman ever opened in movie theaters, Warner Bros. made it clear they had ambitious plans to create a multimedia universe out of the property. Besides any direct sequels that may or may not emerge from Matt Reeves’ movie, the company also began developing multiple TV spinoffs that could emerge from the film and continue on HBO Max. There was a show centered on the Gotham City Police Department that was initially being produced by The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire’s Terence Winter, and later we got word that Warners was also working on a separate show that would star Colin Farrell’s version of the Penguin.
Warners hasn’t given any updates on either of these projects recently, but The Batman director Matt Reeves revealed on the Happy Sad Confused podcast that one of them has quietly been shelved — or technically transformed into a very different concept. Instead, HBO Max is now working on a show set around Arkham Asylum, DC Comics’ home for all of Batman’s most mentally disturbed rogues.
According to Reeves, the concept for the Gotham PD show was loosely inspired by Sidney Lumet’s cop drama Prince of the City and focused on a the battle for a corrupt cop one year before the events of The Batman. HBO Max didn’t like the idea of a show based on such a dark character, which is why Winter left the project in November of 2020.
The new man in charge of the series is Joe Barton, and under his watch, it became this new Arkham thing. Here’s how Reeves described it:
It’s like a horror movie or a haunted house that is Arkham ... the idea, again the way that Gotham is a character in the movie, I really want Arkham to exist as a character. You go into this environment and encounter these characters in a way that feels really fresh. And so in our work on Gotham, that story started to evolve, and it started feeling [like], ‘Wait, we should really lean into this.’ And then that’s kinda where that’s gone.
Of course, Arkham is a place filled with way worse characters than a corrupt cop, so you have to wonder why that’s okay for an HBO Max show but not Winter’s idea for his Gotham PD show. Honestly, I remain skeptical that any of these shows will ever see the light of day — although I have to admit, after watching The Batman, I do want to see more of Colin Farrell’s Penguin. That character has a ton of potential.