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Sunday
Aug052012

Is It Too Early To Start Talking Batman Reboot?

I was a little late to the party, but I managed to finally get my butt in a seat to see The Dark Knight Rises in IMAX and free of any spoilers. That last part required a herculean effort on my part to pretty much avoid almost all media for several days including teasers and trailers. Even NPR tried to hamper my experience of seeing the film untainted, let alone the minefield that is the internet, but I beat them all, and knew almost nothing about the film walking into the theater.

Now the deed is done. I loved it. It was difficult keeping my expectations in check, but I think Nolan has delivered an epicly worthy third act to the Batman saga.

And now it’s time to scrap it and start fresh.

See DC would have to be insanely oblivious not to follow up on the recent success of Marvel Studios’ The Avengers, combining individual character franchises into one mega crossover film. Seeing as how DC already has a similar property with Justice League, it would be criminally foolish of them to not start laying the groundwork to get all of their A-Team All Stars into one film together.

This is no small feat, as DC’s current properties are terrifically scattered, and exist in their own universes, the rules of each make very little sense for any crossover opportunities. For DC to pull off an Avengers success, each major player needs a fresh start.

Superman is already getting the reboot treatment with Man of Steel. It looks like they’ll be moving Supes to a more Batman-like world. No big surprise there with Nolan working on the film as a producer. It’s also rumored that Wonder Woman may make some kind of cameo in the film, which would be appropriate as WW and Superman are the two brawlers in JL. I can easily accept the existence of a super powered Amazonian warrior in a world where a humanoid alien can leap tall buildings in a single bound.

To that same token, I think we’re ready for a good Flash movie. Be it Barry Allen or Wally West, We’ll need at least one character in JL to help lighten the mood. In terms of overall tone the Flash and his super speed antics also fit into a world of other uber-individuals. He also benefits from being high profile (even non-comics fans can usually identify The Flash), but not overly burdened by other media like Superman. The only other Flash properties we have to reference are the early 90’s TV show (for the most part remembered fondly by fans) and his appearances in the animated Justice League animated series. In fact his lack of baggage might make him a near perfect subject to help acclimate audiences to the tone of a JL film, much like the Iron Man films did for Marvel.

On a selfish note, characters like Flash and WW are just plain due. It’s time to get these two right, and we finally have audiences ready to engage with characters like these, not to mention A-List talent in front of and behind the camera ready to bring visions of these characters to life.

Green Lantern might become the DC universe’s Hulk. A character which gets two completely unrelated films, but only makes sense when put into an ensemble of heros. You have to try to make a franchise out of GL, that’s just how Hollywood works now, but you probably shouldn’t use the Ryan Reynolds property to anchor the series.

And that brings us back to Batman.

See, Nolan’s urban gritty grandeur works against the fantastic sensibilities of these other comic properties. Nolan succeeds at not only humanizing a masked vigilante with incredible toys, but also in making his stories humongous. I’m not normally a fan of filmmakers “RAISING THE STAKES” in a series or franchise. It often feels like a pandering attempt to evoke drama by shoe-horning in ridiculous threats which far exceed the scope of the hero. The city-wide calamity of TDKR borders on this hysteria, but Nolan manages to keep the film somewhat grounded. Humans still react the way you would expect them to, and there’s just enough sci-fi to keep our suspension of disbelief in check.

However, Marvel enjoys one clear advantage over DC in terms of “realism”. Marvel superheroes fight in cities like New York, while DC heroes fight in Gotham or Metropolis. To a degree, Marvel characters were written into the same universe from their origin stories as it was always intended to be the world the readers lived in. DC characters don’t share this literary camaraderie. Gotham wasn’t designed to be on the same planet as Metropolis.

Nolan may have done TOO good a job grounding Batman in reality. Gotham has evolved over the three films, starting with some allusions to Detroit or Chicago and now borrowing most of the NYC skyline (the WTC Tower featured in some beautiful 70mm photography). The film’s President even refers to Gotham as America’s greatest city, another clear nod to Gotham now equaling NYC in this universe. Usually that honor is reserved for Metropolis, but Nolan built this franchise for Batman and Batman alone.

When it’s time to explain why Commissioner Gordon’s wife and children aren’t in the film, it’s because they’re in Cleveland. Not Metropolis, or Central City, or Coast City, or even Smallville. There wasn’t an attempt at fan service. Nolan doesn’t want to distract from the story with a shout out to another hero. The Gordon’s went somewhere boring (sorry Cleveland, it’s true).

Nolan’s near-perfect Batman microcosm is a problem for DC. Why? Because it means Superman has to be a colossally selfish prick.

I can not accept a world where Nolan’s Batman and Superman both exist. TDKR’s storyline is a terrific human struggle against a horrible foe, but would have been a non-issue for Superman. In the Superman universe, Bane becomes the kind of villain we throw at Superman in the first act to show how futile it is for ordinary human criminals to try fighting the Man of Steel. It’s why we’re also kinda bored with Lex Luther.

Superman’s myth has grown beyond the scope of a single city. He’s a hero for the planet. He fights for humanity. He’s too powerful for artificial borders or lines on a map.

It’s a curious quandary. I’m sure writers are working on a way to bridge the logic gulf and bring Batman and Superman together. They’re in a tight spot. Either there will be issues explaining how Superman sat idly by (god help us we could watch ANOTHER origin story for Supes I suppose), or you face the ire of fans who are tired of reboots and remakes.

Half the fun is watching this journey take place, but I really hope they get this world right.

References (1)

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  • Response
    Very good Web site, Stick to the good work. Thanks a lot!

Reader Comments (1)

I agree that I don't think it's too early to start thinking about a batman re-boot. I'd like to see a new angle taken considering how good Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy was. Thanks for the post.

April 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGB Posters

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