Friday, May 31, 2013

Toaster's Ramblings... Rebooting Batman Edition

With the release of Man of Steel only a couple of weeks away, there is increased talk of Warner Brothers and DC Comics making their Justice League movie AKA their answer to The Avengers. There has already been a lot of speculation about Batman’s involvement. Will it be Joseph Gordon Levitt under the cowl, seemingly reprising his role from the final shot of The Dark Knight Rises? Will Warner Brothers drive a dump truck full of money to the doors of Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale to get both involved in the super team movie? Will Warner Brothers just decide to start over the franchise and cast younger for the lead?

Jonny Prophet and I are honestly hoping for a reboot, which is sort of the purpose of this rambling session. Our next Live Action Casting for our (semi-plausible) fantasy Justice League movie will involve Batman. With that in mind, we realized that we needed to establish our reasoning for not just going with the default Nolan Batman franchise, hence this write-up.

Jonny and I loved the Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy but all good things must come to an end, less they become sad, limping, half-dead specimens of their former glory, or to put it a better way… Two and a Half Men. The Dark Knight trilogy was great… near perfect in many ways. The story came full circle and gave a very complete and fulfilling ending. Okay, many will disagree with those statements, but you have to admit that the way Nolan ended it, bringing back Bale as Batman would be problematic. Let’s examine why… SPOILER ALERT!

In The Dark Knight Rises Bruce Wayne loses his fortune because of manipulations by Talia and the League of Shadows. After essentially revealing his identity to Commissioner Gordon, Wayne goes on to fake his own death, seemingly sacrificing himself in a nuclear explosion. Wayne Manor gets donated to orphans. Alfred moves on with his life and we find Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle have settled down with a new life abroad. Lastly, “Robin” John Blake finds the Bat-Cave and one assumes carries on the fight.

Warner Brothers would have to reverse all of that for the Christian Bale Batman to plausibly join the Justice League. That’s a lot to consider. Wayne has to return to Gotham City, explain his absence to the media that will surely question him, try to get back his fortune and his company with the Research and Development division intact, kick out the orphans, convince Alfred to come back, hope things aren’t weird between him and Gordan and figure out what to do about Blake. Oh, and Wayne’s body is still falling apart from the toll of crime-fighting.

Maybe the Justice League movie takes place before The Dark Knight Rises? When? In that gap where Batman hung up the cape and cowl after Rachel and Harvey’s deaths and he was limping around with a cane? Maybe he found the time to join after escaping the underground prison but before rescuing Gotham City from Bane? Maybe it was in between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight? Okay, we’ll just ignore that Christian Bale looks older now than when he did during Begins (a decade will do that to you). But the problem is that’s just lame. I hate it when a movie takes place before or during an established continuity like that. Let’s use the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles as an example. While it’s doubtful they would kill the main character of the show, I like knowing the possibility that they could. But if Young Indy died, there would be no Indiana Jones movies (though in the case of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, that might not have been a bad thing). Would Batman die in a Justice League movie? Probably not, but did movie goers expect Spock to die in Wrath of Khan? It’s that possibility, however slight, that helps make these movies more exciting.

What about John Blake as Batman? I am a fan of Joseph Gordon Levitt; he’s a fantastic actor. But a Justice League big screen movie has never been done before. Do you really want to tarnish it right off the bat (no pun intended) by having a Batman that isn’t Bruce Wayne? To me, it would stick out like a sore thumb and I would actually have a hard time enjoying the film for that reason. It’s the same reason why music groups who replace a key member seldom do well. It just feels off.

And I am just going to come out and say it… Nolan’s Batman doesn’t fit into the Justice League very well. Where in his trilogy would you fit aliens, power rings and Amazonian warrior princesses? The Dark Knight movies were firmly grounded in the world of organized crime, whether it was the mob or the clandestine League of Shadows. There’s a reason why Ra’s Al Ghul didn’t have Lazarus Pits and Bane didn’t have super steroids to make him grow enormously muscular… its because those weren’t realistic. All of his adversaries fit into that realistic world, including the usually over-the-top Joker. The realism of The Dark Knight Trilogy is what set it apart from previous films and gave it an edge. But that realistic Batman, with his bodily wear and tear, wouldn’t fit in so well with the likes of Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash and Green Lantern.

Now here’s why a reboot could be great. You could have a fresh new perspective toward the franchise, possibly focused more on the feel of the current comics but with a nod to the past. I don’t mean the goofiness of the Joel Schumacher years. In the same way that Captain America and Iron Man can fit in the same comic/movie universe as Hulk and Thor, I would create a Batman that can fight crime in Gotham but also be a member of the Justice League. Nolan told Bruce Wayne’s story, what if this reboot focuses more on Dick Grayson becoming Robin under Batman’s tutelage? That could be great! Guess what? If you reboot the franchise, you can have the Joker again! Burton killed the Nicholson Joker and since Ledger sadly passed away, I doubt Nolan would have ever cast another in that role. Lets up the ante… add Harley Quinn! She’s a fan favorite who has never been in a movie. Plus, Batman has lots of other villains that could be used, many of whom have never been on film. Batman has a big universe that the films have only scratched the surface of. Why not blow the lid off it?

So continuing in our effort to not just bitch but actually explain what we would do, coming next week will be our Live Action Casting for our Batman reboot that can lead toward the Justice League movie. Until then, stay strange!

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