The Batman’s portrayal of Gotham is akin to another more modern version of DC’s most well-known city: that depicted as Joker in Joaquim Phoenix’s Joker. However, despite their stark similarities, it’s an accident.
Speaking to IGN, The Batman director Matt Reeves said “I had already written the script before Joker was released, and that’s why when I first saw Joker I thought ‘oh fascinating’. I noticed that there were certain threads that they’d been able to pull from.”
The threads which connect The Batman and Gotham are founded in social-political issues. Both depict a city in which workers’ support for the government is in a state of turmoil and can cause a violent group of people to join forces with the idea of the villain. Both deal with corruption in the upper echelons of the city. They also in the end, both expose a darker part of Thomas Wayne.
Reeves “was not aware” of of these threads that were common until he saw Joker. Warner Bros. had given the actor no warning that both he as well as Joker Director Todd Phillips were exploring similar terrain. “But I felt that our perspective was different, and therefore it was fine,” he explained.
“What was thrilling was that the audience was really enthralled by the possibility of being able to use Gotham and turn it into something relevant the present,” he continued. “I believe the way we handled the Riddler using social media to communicate and the idea of corruption, and how high it gets in the same Watergate manner, was akin with what was happening in the world at the time we wrote.”
“The political context of the socio-political was very crucial because it had to feel relatable, in order for the audience to claim that, even though it was an area of Gotham that they’d never visited the city, it was a part like their own world and they could identify with the experience,” he said.