If Mariska jumps on board, all the better. Take my money, Warner Bros. Here! Just take it already, dammit!
Alas, I fear the days of a live action Batman show are no more, and the most realistic options remain another animated incarnation and the — dare I say dreaded? — franchise reboot. This was inevitable, right? Nolan gives much more than an inch, and the universe promptly requests a mile in return. I don’t think sticking the mask on Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the obvious choice here, though, and that’s for several reasons:
Let’s face it; the future of DC Comics on film doesn’t look so bright without Batman. Man of Steel is due out next summer and there’s that Green Lantern sequel (?) waiting in the wings. Other than that, though… With its half-assed Justice League announcement, Warner Bros. is obviously looking to exploit DC’s other comic properties before bringing out the caped crusader again. Creative could definitely make a filmic iteration work, too. For Aquaman you could play up the King of Atlantis stuff and th- pfft who am I kidding? This would never work. Remember how Twentieth Century Fox nixed Wolverine’s bright yellow spandex for Hugh Jackman? Well, Warner Bros. has like, seven Wolverines to deal with. On that note…
As in both financially and figuratively. Fortunately, the studio has little excuse not to slap that oh so pleasing 3D post-conversion stamp now that Mr. Nolan is moving on. That’s a good thing, yes? No? And despite The Dark Knight Rises‘ impressive first week showings, even hyped IMAX demand can’t compete with those damn 3D gla$$es. The Avengers are the box office overlords this summer, and they’ll probably stay on top for a while. DC and Warner Bros. are going need to do some serious thinking if they want to stay relevant in this superhero genre with more than two properties. And let’s not even consider the success of another Avengers movie in two years. By that point, if Stan Lee is still kicking, let’s just throw the man on the next presidential ballot and pledge national servitude.
Talk until you’re blue in the face about how Joker is Batman’s greatest enemy; for any comic book tent pole, the biggest baddie will always be Captain Closure. Despite that ending montage, it turns out The Dark Knight Rises ties everything up quite nicely. John Blake is there at the end, but he’s a thematic thread, not an excuse for a sequel. I read his character as more in service to the idea of a symbol’s power to inspire, to be “more than just a man.” The “Robin” wink was either cool or groan-inducing, depending on who you talked to. Personally, I wish they would’ve said his legal name was “Nightwing.”
More to the point, give me a story idea in this pre-constructed universe that wouldn’t feel derivative. Can you think of one? Can any member of this courtroom today think of one? The prosecution rests, your honor. *cues Gotham Central theme*
We’ll see another Batman movie before the end of this decade. That’s a fact. While those 3D price hikes put Marvel in first place this year, Batman remains the most popular hero. Sure, Tony Stark has his snark, and you can’t go wrong with your friendly neighborhood Spider-man, but Bats takes the cake. Hands down. Even my parents, grown adults in their mid-fifties, saw The Dark Knight in theaters. These are two people who normally think 100 minutes is “pushin it” for a 4 o’clock Sunday matinee. Joss Whedon’s great and all, but Avengers is no cultural phenomenon. A cultural phenomenon happens when a baseball podcast gets sidetracked talking about The Dark Knight Rises. Which it did.
Maybe Twins fans just need all the entertainment they can get this summer, or maybe my ears are just pressed to the wrong channels. I doubt it, though. Batman rules, so here are three obligatory possibilities:
Won’t happen. Hit me up on PayPal if you really want to test this. Still, I enjoy these self-indulgent blog posts oh so much, and I’ve spoken with others who have seen it and suggested this route, so it wouldn’t seem fair to breeze over such a huge possibility.
I like Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Judging from the buzz about Rian Johnson’s Looper, I think he would make a fine action lead. That said, I’ll repeat my previous question: What story is there left to tell in this universe?
I don’t think there is one, not one worth a $150 million investment. Judging from the hype/backlash machine Rises has spawned, Christopher Nolan was his own biggest threat to delivering on such high expectations. So really, what schmoe would have the balls to step into the Nolan-verse and add a fourth film to this much finality? Maybe Shyamalan. So like, we get Drew Barrymore for Poison Ivy right, but she’s actually Bruce’s mother because get this, his parents AREN’T dead. So when Mark Wahlberg comes back in the twist…
These last three films are neither conclusive nor are they final, but they are pretty damn definitive. If you’re trying to match Jordan’s threepeats, switch to tennis. Obligatory sports analogy.
Not “that” one. The actual Robin. Or an actual one, I guess. If Rises proved one thing, it’s that there are situations where Batman can’t win by himself. But start with the team already intact. No more origin stories for the love of Jeebus. Make Batman and Robin already a thing before credits even roll. Give me a cold open where they tag team Killer Croc in the Gotham Sewers.
This is also an easy way to not stray too far from Nolan’s films while still keeping the material fresh. Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely did just that and more. Not only did they put milquetoast Dick Grayson under the Batman cowl, but Robin was the badass little shit. They also upped the weird factor with their story arcs: one of Bruce’s ex-girlfriends survives a gaping gunshot wound to the head and seeks revenge on the Dynamic Duo; Jason Todd, the lamest, deadest Robin, returns from the grave as Red Hood to tarnish Batman’s standing in Gotham; Batman and Robin go up against Professor Pyg, a psychopath obsessed with body mutilation, and his Circus of the Strange, where Gothamites are controlled by psychic doll masks permanently glued to their faces. Awesome.
Morrison & Quitely even devised a “Batman VS. Robin” story arc where, well you get the idea. Batman and Robin doesn’t have to be this awkward, homoerotic codpiece thing either, especially if you were to mind the age gap between the two. But then maybe that would be too Greek.
Forget those other ideas. This is what Warner Bros. should do with the Batman property, because as far as I’m concerned, every board exec diligently follows me on Twitter. For an animated series, Batman Beyond is one dark and brooding meditation on its predecessor.
It’s hard to argue that the futuristic Matrix-steam punk thing wouldn’t visually set this apart from the Nolan-verse. But if Warner Bros. gets antsy about straying too far, Beyond has the built-in convenience of staying grim in tone. It also gives the studio a chance to inject more humor into the franchise. I laugh out loud plenty watching The Dark Knight, but it’s no Tony Stark Roasts The Avengers. Enter Terry McGinness, a smart ass punk who dons a futuristic upgrade of the Batsuit under the begrudging mentorship of, yup, bitter old Bruce Wayne. McGinness is much more Spidey with a cowl than he is Kevin Conroy’s gloomy take on Wayne. A wise-cracking Batman with a crotchety veteran’s limitless resources? I’m in.
You could even introduce all those villains that probably wouldn’t work as well before like Clayface or a Mr. Freeze that doesn’t blow ass. Not to mention the series has plenty of its own villains to mine ideas from. And for those clamoring for it, here’s a chance for a different take on The Joker, and one that wouldn’t be a slight on Ledger’s performance. Hell, throw in Harley Quinn while you’re at it. Give directorial control to District 9‘s Neil Blomkamp or Duncan Jones from Moon. Better yet, give it to Fincher and tell him to bring his Se7en sensibilities along.
When’s this movie supposed to be coming out?