Matt Reeves has KO’d a multi-film arc full of DC heroes, and changed the course of the multiverse.
The film’s success is the final knock-out to the original vision of the DC Extended Universe and to Warner Brothers' dreams of duplicating Disney’s never-ending serialized cross-over franchise MCU model. And thank goodness.
The Batman has grossed $672.8 million, passing Justice League’s $657 million.
The Zach Snyder multi-hero 2016 film is still a little ahead if you adjust for inflation, but The Batman has had a very impressive run given the weaker post-Covid theater realities. It’s the biggest earner of 2022.
Zack Snyder’s grand plan for the MCU-ificiation of DC properties wasn’t a total bust. His first big crossover/shared universe film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice grossed a very respectable $873.6 million.
But stand-alone hero films, whether putatively in the DCEU like Aquaman ($1.14 billion) and Wonder Woman ($822 million) or completely outside of continuity like The Joker ($1.07 billion) and The Dark Knight Rises ($1.08 billion) did just as well or better.
Stand-alone films are also easier to coordinate, as Warner Brothers has found to its sorrow. Snyder’s daughter tragically died during the filming of Justice League, forcing him to step aside as director.
The resulting chaos—compounded by reportedly abusive behavior by Snyder’s replacement Joss Whedon—affected not only Justice League, but a whole slate of future films, including two Justice League sequels, a Cyborg film, and many more.