Back At Bat
—by Nathan on September 10, 2012—
Hey, look, ANOTHER Batman blog! What, you thought that, just because Christopher Nolan's tremendous trilogy wrapped up, I'd be done? Heck, no! We still got a whole future ahead of us. Seeing as how Batman is one of DC's flagship characters, you know they'll probably start him off again in a few years, especially if they ever want to challenge Marvel's The Avengers with their very own Justice League (of which I have little hope, but it may grow...give it time). While it may be too early to be thinking of possible Batman reboots, this is just for the fun of it. I gotta blog about something, don't I? And isn't this what a blog is for? Getting my ideas down? Back to the topic at hand. Sooner or later (three or four years is my guess) DC will be bringing the Dark Knight back onto the big screen. Now, I don't think another Batman franchise has the potential to beat Christopher Nolan's trilogy. Not even Marvel, in my opinion, can beat the second movie, but you know all about that. What could a new Batman trilogy do, though? What could it have? How could it distinguish itself from Nolan's masterpiece? Maybe I can give an answer here.
ORIGIN: Maybe one of the biggest questions to tackle will be this: Would a new franchise tell Batman's origin? It would be silly not to, but Batman Begins was my least favorite of the three movies, mostly because it took a while to get to the Batman action. Granted, Nolan tried really hard at telling Bruce Wayne's story as well as Batman's, but I think a lot of fans are more interested in Batman rather than Bruce Wayne. Hence a reason why no franchise could be better than Nolan's. I've found out that it's better, when writing a story, to focus more upon the characters rather than the plot or concept of the story. Bruce Wayne IS Batman. While I'd rather see Batman over Bruce any day, they can't be separated. Any movie that tries to show Batman and Bruce Wayne as two different characters will ultimately fail. And that's why the origin story is needed. The origin is HOW Bruce became Batman. Maybe I sound like I'm contradicting myself, so let me get two things straight: 1. People may not be fond of an origin story, but...2. It's necessary. Maybe a new movie wouldn't have to go into as much detail as Nolan's BB. Maybe even a few flashbacks would be all the movie would need. Yet, I cannot stress how important both Bruce Wayne and Batman are. Forget Bruce Wayne and you forget the heart of Batman. That's why an origin is needed.
VILLAIN: And this may be the second most important question to ask: Who will Batman fight? Batman has a whole Rogue's Gallery to delve into. I'm gonna list a few of them in a moment, but I want to mention one little thing: One aspect of Nolan's trilogy that was really cool was its realism. I've mentioned this before, but he didn't use Batman's more superpowered foes, like Man-Bat or Clayface. He used human opponents. Joel Schumacher's "Batman and Robin" used both Poison Ivy and Mr. Freeze and look how awful that went! So, stick with more human enemies. Okay, I promised a list of potential foes. For your viewing pleasure:
Riddler: Edward Nygma, aka the Riddler, would be my first choice as a villain. We haven't see him since Jim Carrey made an absolute fool of the character in Schumacher's "Batman Forever." Amusingly, he was more of a Joker character, while Heath Ledger's Joker gave Batman more of a Riddler-styled contest in TDK (he even told Batman to reveal his identity, which is the one question Riddler has been attempting to puzzle out for years). So what would make Riddler so great? Like the Joker, he could challenge Batman to a battle of wits. Of course, it would have to vary greatly from the Joker's game. Maybe he could give Batman riddles, like he does in the comics. That sounds a little childish, but maybe film-makers could up the ante or connect the clues in some clever way. Or plot twists. With the Riddler, there could be plot twists aplenty. And maybe he COULD figure out Batman's secret identity. Bane knew who he was, but that was because he was a part of the League of Shadows for a time. Nolan didn't have anyone (except John Blake) piece together the fact that Bruce Wayne was Batman. Why not have the Riddler do that?
The Joker: Using the Clown Prince of Crime as an arch-enemy is as inevitable as rebooting Batman, despite the fact that seeing anyone do as good a job, if not better, than Heath Ledger is close to impossible. So, then, how do you manage the impossible? An easy answer would be "you don't." But we're being serious here (and if you asked "Why so serious?" after reading that, you're as obsessed as I am). How do you change up the Joker so he can be as awesome as he is different than Ledger? Ledger portrayed an absolutely ruthless character. Inverse him and you get a joke. So flipping him upside down might not work. One thing TDK and TDKR did was make the villains start off as pawns of other people. They managed to become top dog eventually, but they used a lower position to gain higher ground. Why not start the Joker off at the top? Let him be the leader from minute number one. Show him have absolute control from the second he pops onto the screen. Maybe the degree of darkness and brutality could be lessened, or...make him a total contradiction. Okay, Ledger's Joker was a contradiction, but do this even more so. Make him funny one minute, dark the next. Violent one moment, kind the next. Make his emotions go all over the place, cause that's insanity for you. A Joker with alternating states of emotion would be chilling. Having a brutal villain act calm, sincere, or even nice may be even more terrifying than when he's wild, disloyal, or cruel. Honestly, the Joker's freakiest moment is when he's talking to a Batman-wannabe. He teases and mocks him, then rubs his cheek and mutters "oh, shush, shush, shush" soothingly. Bane does the same when he comments on the loveliness of a kid's singing voice...before blowing up a stadium. Making someone so cruel be kind as well is absolutely freaky. A perfect way to portray Batman's greatest foe.
Killer Croc: Maybe we're heading too much into the supervillain zone, but I don't think Croc's TOO much of a stray from realism. Waylon Jones does become Croc thanks to some disease, so he's doesn't get irradiated or anything. I think a new franchise could pull him off successfully, making him like a Bane-type foe. Batman needs a physical opponent. He can't fight every enemy with his brains. Let him flex his muscles. The only problem I see using Killer Croc is that too many people could see it as a Amazing Spider-Man Lizard rip-off. Lizard actually looks more like Killer Croc than he does his comic counterpart. But I still think the guy is usable, just so long as you make him somewhat reasonable. No irradiation or mutation. Maybe make him bitter at the world for shunning him because of his oddity, kinda like Burton did with the Penguin in Batman Returns. Croc could be more brutal, fighting Batman with a relentlessness only Bane achieved. Heck, maybe Croc would be seen as a Bane duplicate, but I still think it could be pulled off. While I'd prefer the Riddler or the Joker, Killer Croc is still a very possible villain to use in a reboot.
SUPPORTING CAST: Batman's allies are as necessary as his villains. There are some allies that are just inevitable for filmmakers to use. Alfred, first of all, is totally necessary. He's Bruce's Uncle Ben, he teaches him good lessons and encourages him to keep on going even when the chips are down. He's the crutch Bruce leans on, a guiding light of sorts. Then there's Commissioner Gordon, one of Gotham's "good cops." He's a valuable ally who always believes in Batman even if the rest of the city views him as a menace. And if you redo the origin, you'll need to show the killer. Other minor characters could include Harvey Dent, Selina Kyle, and Vicky Vale (who's a reporter). I didn't mention Harvey and Selina above (who are Two-Face and Catwoman respectively) because Nolan just used them. The Joker's a mainstay; he's Batman's arch-baddie. But with both the 90's and Nolan franchises using Two-Face and Catwoman, having them appear again would seem like going to the well one too many times. So maybe you wouldn't include them or you could just throw in a reference. Alfred and Gordon are the major two I'd use. Fill in the blank areas with nameless cops, criminals and the occassional mugged citizen. Nolan relied heavily on the supporting cast, showing us even the background, stuck-in-the-shadows characters are still important. Cause they are.
WHO TO PLAY BATMAN: We've seen a couple different Batmen over the years, the latest being Christian Bale. While people will probably always make fun of his gruff voice, I still thought he did a pretty good job. But who could take over the mantle of the Bat? SPOILER WARNING! At the end of TDKR, Nolan left off with Joseph-Gordon Levitt's character John Blake entering the Batcave. Would a new franchise pick up were Nolan left off? I wouldn't really like that. Maybe you could still have Gordon-Levitt be Batman (though his voice does get squeaky when he yells, making him more like Ratman), but, even if the story was disconnected from Nolan's universe, I think viewers would still find some remnants of a tether to his trilogy if he was used. My dad mentioned that Mr. Reese from Person of Interest, played by Jim Caviezel, has a good Batman voice (interestingly enough, the show was created by Christopher's brother, Jonathan), and the character does share some Bat-like qualities. I think it'd be neat to see him as Batman. I have really no idea who could be Batman. We'll have to see what DC comes up with on that one.
ROBIN: So, do you have a Robin or not? Last time we saw him, he was played by Chris O'Donnell in Joel Schumacher's Batman Forever and Batman and Robin, which most people have discarded as laughable. While it may be true, does that mean having a Robin is a bad idea? I'd lean more towards the "yes" side of the argument. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Nolan's Batman didn't have a sidekick. He didn't NEED a sidekick. In the comics, it may work. In movies, I don't think so. You can only divide the attention between characters so much. If having too many bad guys in a movie is generally a bad thing, the same should apply for the good guys. A Robin just means someone to train, someone to watch out for, someone to chide and berate when he screws up...and if he doesn't need any of that, that just means he's-boom-suddenly in there, as good as Batman, and the audience is going "Wha-? Where'd HE come from?" Any way you (sorry, I) look at it, it's a no-win situation. I really don't want a Robin. I don't think Batman needs a Robin. Or a Nightwing, a grown-up Robin. Sidekicks don't usually work in movies. Partners? Yes, but that's a different topic all-together. Again, Batman doesn't need a partner. He can be the solo guy, which I like better.
JUSTICE LEAGUE: With the release of Marvel's The Avengers this year, you just know DC will want to give them a run for their money with a Justice League film. A new Superman reboot is coming out next year in the guise of The Man of Steel. Green Lantern made his big-screen debut. So we're still missing some key players, Batman one of them. Maybe The Man of Steal will have some Marvelesque post-credit scene alluding to a JL movie, but who knows how long it'll take to get there? I waited for the Avengers for four years; DC will need that much, if not more, to get their team movie rolling. Still, Batman is integral to the League, even if he's the only one without superpowers. I mean, he's one of DC's main heroes. Couple that with his soaring popularty he's received after getting the Nolan-treatment, he seems to be a prime canidate for DC's staple super-team. He's got the smarts the team needs. Maybe he doesn't have the raw power everyone else has, but he's by far the most intelligent. Besides, he's got the cash to fund the team, like Tony Stark funds the Avengers. You NEED Batman on the Justice League! I honestly have no idea when/if a JL movie is coming out, but Batman should definitely be on the roster.
Batman's probably my second-favorite superhero, being just beaten out by Spider-Man. I actually wasn't a huge Batman fan until Nolan came along and that was only after his masterpiece (you all know what THAT is) hit theatres. It probably can be assumed no other Batman movie will be as good as any of Nolan's, but DC isn't gonna dump the franchise or try to do a bad job. When they put out a new Batman, I'll be there to see it.