The only industry with more executive turnover than the NFL’s perpetually dysfunctional New York Jets is Hollywood. On Tuesday morning, it was reported that Terence Winter (Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos) had stepped down as writer, executive producer and showrunner of HBO Max’s upcoming prequel spinoff set in the world of Matt Reeves and Robert Pattinson’s The Batman.
Over the summer, HBO Max continued its high-profile IP-driven content strategy by doling out a full series commitment to the show, which is being developed by Reeves and producer Dylan Clark through Warner Bros. Television. The series will cover the corruption in Gotham City with a focus on the Gotham police department from the point of view of a crooked cop. It takes place in the first year of Batman’s vigilante career whereas the upcoming film is set in Year Two.
“The story is actually a battle for his soul,” Reeves said in August.
So who should replace Winter on board this runaway train that is sure to be an object of continual speculation and attention? We have six suggestions with the caveat that it is unknown if any of these talented showrunners would be A) interested in setting up shop in Gotham City and B) if their current overall deals would allow them to do so.
The veteran writer and producer has had a hand in a number of quality TV series over the years. She is currently busy with Netflix’s Warrior Nun, which was renewed for a second season in August, but would be a fascinating choice for The Batman prequel spinoff.
Berg served as a writer and producer on J.K. Simmons’ Counterpart, one of the most underrated dramas of the last half decade. That show revolved around low-level agent Howard Silk, who discovered that his organization is keeping a gateway to a parallel dimension a secret. In it, Berg explored the depths of corrupt bureaucracy, the thrills of espionage, and the fringes of science-fiction. All of these translate well to what is shaping up to be a ground-level comic book adjacent tale that runs over similar territory.
Ronald D. Moore
Famous for Battlestar Galactica and his work in the Star Trek franchise, Moore may be too ingrained in the world of sci-fi for what is meant to be a very baseline human look at systemic misconduct. He’s also busy working on the second season of Apple TV+’s For All Mankind. But Moore does possess the great ability to layer character development and key messaging on top of a flashy central hook.
Battlestar Galactica managed to avoid becoming a champion of the military industrial complex while also examining the nature of power transfers in society under Moore’s watchful eye. For All Mankind is far more interested in the mental and emotional states of its characters than it is in the space race. He could capably marry the show’s Batman connections to its central story.
Speaking of Battlestar Galactica, Mr. Robot creator and Homecoming director Sam Esmail was meant to be developing a reboot for NBCU’s Peacock. However, news that Dark Phoenix director Simon Kinberg is writing and producing a Battlestar Galactica feature adaptation for Universal doesn’t bode well for that project.
Esmail, who works under an overall deal with Universal Content Productions, is easily one of the most visually creative and daring creators working in television at the moment. It’s doubtful that Reeves is looking for such flare for his grounded cop tale, but it would certainly set The Batman spinoff apart from the deluge of superhero schlock we’ve become accustomed to. C’mon, HBO Max. Live a little.
The Fargo and Legion creator is a favorite of ours here at Observer thanks to his unique storytelling motifs, creative boldness, and knack for coming up with compelling narratives. No one thought an anthology TV series inspired by the Coen Brothers’ iconic 1996 film was a good idea. Four seasons later and Fargo is one of the best shows to grace the small screen in the last six years. Hawley knows how to take cues from source material while creating a wholly unique experience all its own, skills that will translate well to the world of The Batman.
With plans for his new Star Trek film put on the back burner at Paramount and Fargo S4 wrapping up soon, Hawley—who is working under an overall deal with FX Productions—may have the free time to slot right into HBO Max.
If Reeves and WarnerMedia are looking for a replacement for Winter, they might not need to look very far. In house already is Lovecraft Country showrunner Misha Green, who recently wrapped the first season of her new HBO series.
The October finale drew a series high 1.5 million live multiplatform viewers. More HBO Max subscribers viewed the finale in its first day of availability than any other new episode of an original series on HBO Max, per HBO. As of last month, the show ranked as the #1 original series on HBO Max with the premiere surpassing 10 million viewers overall.
That’s a recent homegrown hit staring Warner Bros. Television right in the face.
Corrupt cops, institutional failures, vigilante justice—it sounds as if The Batman prequel is squarely within the wheelhouse of Taylor Sheridan. The actor and writer has traversed similar ground in his critically acclaimed film and TV script work which includes Sicario, Hell or High Water, and Paramount TV’s massively popular Yellowstone.
While it’s doubtful that Sheridan, who signed an overall deal with ViacomCBS earlier this year, would or could walk away from his surging small screen hit, the allure of Batman and a deep-pocketed streamer is powerful. There’s little doubt that Sheridan has the necessary grit and grind to further develop Reeves’ off-kilter world.