animated universe, Batman, Batman Beyond, continuation, Court of Owls, film franchise, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Justice League, live action, Nightwing, Nolan-verse, reboot, Scott Snyder, The Dark Knight Rises, The New 52
By: Adam Basciano
We’ve all heard that saying; “All good things must come to an end.” For myself and many other Batman fans, this is true of Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale’s time with the film franchise. “The Dark Knight Rises” officially marks the end of the Nolan era of Bat – Films. Does that mean we’ll never see another Batman movie? Of course not. Warner Brothers loves making money and right now, Batman’s the only DC character bringing home the bacon. Hopefully, Superman will add to that next year though. Before I continue, be warned that what follows will contain spoilers regarding “The Dark Knight Rises.” So if you still haven’t seen it, go watch it and then read this article.
While the Christopher Nolan film has a finality to Bruce Wayne’s story, the ending is rather open, suggesting that Batman’s story will continue. At film’s end Joseph Gordon Levitt’s character John Blake a.k.a. “Robin”, inherits the bat-cave and presumably, all its wonderful toys. While John Blake isn’t a character from the comics, he pretty much fulfilled the role of Batman’s comic book crime fighting partner, sans costume. In fact, his character is an amalgamation of Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, and Tim Drake. Remember as great as Chris Nolan’s Batman trilogy is, he doesn’t own the character. Warner Brothers and DC Entertainment do. If they so choose, they could spin JGL’s character off into his own trilogy of films. Either as Nightwing, or taking up the mantle of Batman. Hell they could even throw a Nolan-ized twist at the audience and reveal that John Blake is indeed Dick Grayson. After all, aside from him being adopted not much is revealed about his past. I’m sure a good writer can figure out a way to accomplish it. A sequel in the Nolan-verse without Nolan and Bale is unlikely, but with the right talent on board it could work. I’m thinking Matt Reeves, Duncan Jones, or David Fincher in the director’s chair. With great reception, audience approval, and it being a money-making machine, I wouldn’t be surprised if WB is considering a spinoff in the Nolan-verse, however unlikely. I’d definitely get behind this idea. Besides, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to see Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman again!
Another scenario is a Justice League film. Having already hired a writer, if all goes well, word is that Warner Brothers are eyeing a 2015 release for Justice League. There’s no doubt that Batman would be a part of the ensemble. If he wasn’t, then that’s plain stupid. The smart thing to do in this scenario, would be to have the actor playing Batman in Justice League branch out into the solo film. This way the audience can get used to their new Batman, and the actor will already feel comfortable in the role. However, knowing the studio they’ll choose two different actors to play Batman concurrently. Ludicrous you say? That’s what was going to happen circa 2007 with Justice League Mortal. The Hollywood Reporter has a small update on the matter saying; “Warners will try to resuscitate Batman as a stand-alone franchise and/or as part of a planned Justice League ensemble that could connect to next
summer’s Man of Steel.”
When handling Batman in his next solo outing on film, the key piece of advice I can offer the studio is this, DON’T REDO THE ORIGIN STORY! Everyone, be it comic book fans, average film goers, and senior citizens know Bruce Wayne’s origin story. Take a cue from Scott Snyder’s run on Batman in the New 52 era comics. An already established Batman takes on the Court of Owls. In that story there were flashbacks to Bruce’s youth that have never been seen before. It’s honestly one of the best Batman stories I’ve read and would be a good fresh start to the film franchise, without doing a complete reboot. Besides, complete reboots are reserved for franchises whose last entries are pieces of shit, or are a plagiarized version of a 34-year-old film. See “Batman & Robin” and “Superman Returns” as examples.
The only way the studio could get away with an origin film, without having it being criticized for not measuring up to “Batman Begins” is by adapting the Batman Beyond Animated series and subsequent comic books, into a live action film. “Fueled by remorse and vengeance, a high schooler named Terry McGinnis revives the role of Batman. Under supervision of an elderly Bruce Wayne, he fights crime in a harsh futuristic Gotham.” For an animated series Batman Beyond was quite dark yet had its moments of levity, especially banter between Bruce and Terry. The series also delved into their mindset, specially regarding their philosophy’s of being Batman. The show had a fantastic balance of exploring new ground but also keeping in touch with the Batman mythology. I think that mix is ideal for the next take on the franchise. Ever since watching this series, I’ve always envisioned Clint Eastwood playing the elder Bruce Wayne.
There’s excitement moving forward because there are plenty of directions the next chapter of this franchise could go. There’s also plenty of worry! Quite frankly, I don’t trust Warner Brothers. The Dark Knight trilogy’s success can be largely attributed to Christopher Nolan and the creative team he made those movies with. Left to their own devices, Warner Brothers made two-hour toy commercials titled “Batman Forever” and “Batman & Robin.” Hopefully, success has taught them that a good creative team, compelling stories, and engaging characters are essential to a good Batman film. Everything else will follow.