The Brave and The Bold: Why the DCU’s Batman May Not Be Bruce Wayne


Last week, DC fans got the news that they had long been waiting for when James Gunn and Peter Safran revealed the first projects that will make up DC Studios new DC Universe. Dubbed “Chapter One: Gods and Monsters”, the initial slate will include ten projects spread over five television series and five films and among those films is the Batman-centric The Brave and The Bold. According to Gunn, the project is taking its inspiration from Grant Morrison‘s comic book run and is the story of Damian Wayne — though Gunn’s comments also made it clear that there would be other notable characters in the story as well, including extended members of the Bat family and clarified that yes, Bruce Wayne is a part of this, too.

Since the announcement, there has been no shortage of speculation about exactly how The Brave and The Bold will shape up and what specific aspects of Morrison’s run fans could see come to life on screen. Many assume we’ll be getting an origin or introduction story for Damian Wayne pulled from the Batman & Son arc from Batman #655-658 and #663-666. Others think the story will incorporate the introduction of Dick Grayson’s Nightwing on the big screen as well, but there’s another possibility that arguably fits into what Gunn and Safran have said about the project, brings the extended Bat-family into prominence, and sets up for the next chapter of the DC Universe: Batman may not be Bruce Wayne.

What has Gunn and Safran said about The Brave and The Bold?

To start, let’s look at what Gunn and Safran have actually said about The Brave and The Bold. At the press event announcing the slate, Gunn described the film as the introduction of the DCU’s Batman as well as being the story of Damian Wayne.

“This is the introduction of the DCU’s Batman,” Gunn explained. “This is the story of Damian Wayne, who is Batman’s actual son who he didn’t know existed for the first eight to 10 years of his life. He was raised as a little murderer and assassin. He’s a little son of a bitch. He’s my favorite Robin. It’s based on the Grant Morrison comic book run, which is one of my favorite Batman runs, and we’re putting that all together right now.”

“And this is obviously a feature film, and it’s going to feature other members of the extended Bat family, just because we feel like they’ve been left out of the Batman stories in the theater for far too long,” Safran added.

Later, when asked specifically about Bruce Wayne, they did clarify that Bruce Wayne is in fact Batman in this new take.

“No, no, no. It’s Bruce Wayne,” Gunn said with Safran adding “It’s Bruce Wayne.”

“It’s a father-son story between Bruce and Damian.”

Doesn’t Gunn’s comments make it pretty clear that Batman = Bruce Wayne?

While those comments seem pretty direct, the reality is that Gunn and Safran aren’t exactly showing all of their cards here. All their comments do is confirm that Bruce Wayne is Batman at some point in their story, Damian is Bruce’s son, the overall story is a father-son story between the two, and that additional Bat-family characters will be in play. All of this on top of the confirmation of the Morrison influence, of course. And it’s within this direct, but still not entirely detailed answer where we can find space for this theory to work. It comes down to what’s in Morrison’s Batman run and where exactly The Brave and The Bold starts, narratively.

Okay, so what is In Morrison’s Batman?

There is a lot in Morrison’s Batman run — and when copies of it make their way back to store shelves, it’s something you should absolutely check out. In many ways, Morrison’s run on Batman and the associated titles around it are the gateway to the contemporary, “modern” Batman comics fans are most familiar with now. It’s at times both dark and gritty, but there’s also a great deal of emotional heft and we see a genuine evolution of all of the characters involved over the full breadth of the run. There’s also plenty of weird so it’s never a dull moment or read.

The major highlights of the run, however, are the introduction of Damian Wayne and the complicated dynamic between Damian and not just his father, Bruce, but the rest of the family as well. We see Batman trying to relate to and work with a son who he barely knows and who has a very different ideology than he does while also dealing with the challenges and darkness of Gotham City. The run also sees Batman essentially dying and leaving Dick and Damian to suit up as Batman and Robin respectively while Batman makes his way back to present day Gotham City. There’s honestly not a good way to fully summarize the epic run so you’ll definitely want to read it for yourself, but these are the major points — and it’s within this whole general circuit of things (Damian showing up, Bruce dying, Dick and Damian teaming up, and Bruce coming back) where a Dick-as-Batman story works while still preserving the father-son aspect of it all.

So, how could it work?

It’s actually very easy, it just hinges on where the story starts. For this to work, The Brave and The Bold needs to start in media res — in the middle of things. We don’t need a lot of establishing of the Bruce/Damian relationship directly. When we enter this story, we could already see the father and son working together and having a strained and complicated dynamic with Bruce/Batman trying to guide Damian/Robin and teach him his way of dealing with crime and justice in Gotham City. It could be during this difficult and fractious time that tragedy befalls the family, leaving Dick in a place where he has to step up as Batman as well as step up as a mentor to his “brother”. Simultaneously, you could have elements of Bruce making his way back to them, motivated not just by his duty to Gotham, but to this son he’s only just begun to know. You have Damian trying to be the son trying to fill the shoes of a father he barely knows, Bruce trying to get back to be a father to said son, and Dick functioning as a son who is trying to be a father in the absence of one himself — a complicated father-son story that serves to be Damian Wayne’s true origin as he fully becomes Robin and a member of the Bat family.

The film could easily then culminate in the three of them reuniting to face an overarching threat that could be tied to the inciting event that took Bruce away in the first place. This sort of final showdown would allow for Damian to learn something about his new place in the world and his relationship with his father, thus cementing his path for future stories, while it would also show Bruce learning key lessons about being both human and Batman — all while establishing the expanded Bat family in play for future chapters of the DC Universe to boot. It works within the Morrison framework, fits Gunn and Safran’s comments, and allows for Bruce Wayne to technically be Batman, but also for Batman to not be Bruce Wayne.

Let’s say they go this route. What comes next?

There are a lot of directions DC Studios could go if this is the path they take with The Brave and The Bold, but one particularly tantalizing one is that it could be a set up for a Super Sons story. One of the other major questions about the Chapter One: Gods and Monsters slate is how Superman: Legacy is going to bring Morrison’s All-Star Superman to life. Gunn has previously said that Superman: Legacy won’t be an origin story but will instead explore Clark Kent coming to modern-day Metropolis and starting up as Superman there. While there are several ideas about how exactly the film could approach this, one of those approaches culminates in the revelation of Superman and Lois Lane’s son, Jonathan Kent. If Superman: Legacy were to set up for Jon Kent in the DCU and with The Brave and The Bold potentially leaving Damian in a position for his own adventures and stories, it feels like a natural next step to bring the two together for adventure in the next chapter.


Outside of a direct Super Sons team up being on the horizon, the sort of storytelling theorized here about The Brave and The Bold would also organically do what DC Comics does better than anyone: legacy. DC Comics has a long history of incorporating their legacy characters alongside their main characters, so much so that it’s not unusual to see “sidekicks” stepping up as needed in major moments. The Brave and The Bold — and Superman: Legacy to a greater extent — sets up the idea of functioning legacy characters that already operate within continuity alongside the main heroes. If the DCU is headed to a larger crisis-level event in Chapter Two or beyond, setting up these legacy heroes early on will allow for them to be well-established and make the storytelling much more seamless, something that would be a major point of distinction from the Marvel Cinematic Universe who hasn’t quite as organically incorporated its legacy characters narratively multiple phases in.

Ultimately, any discussion of what is coming with The Brave and The Bold or any other film or television series in the first chapter of the DC Studios slate is purely theory and speculation and we are several years out from seeing any of it actually come to life. Superman: Legacy is currently dated for July 11, 2025, and The Brave and The Bold doesn’t yet have an announced date — though with the announced expectation being two movies and two shows per year, it may also have a 2025 date. There’s still a lot of time for the story to be decided and written. Still, it’s worth considering that this next take on the world of Batman may be unlike anything we’ve seen before, and it is important that we not entirely rule out the idea that it may be someone other than Bruce Wayne who ends up being — at least for part of the time —under the DCU’s cape and cowl.

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