Ahhh… So, they’re going to do it, eh? Batman and Superman will appear, side by side(Or above and below, I suppose.) in 2015. On the surface this is “kind of” exciting, I guess. The idea of having Batman and Superman together in a movie is definitely an interesting, and possibly exciting idea. Well, on it’s face anyways, but the potential for a massive fuck up is definitely teetering on the “massive fuck up” precipice. Although, considering the tone of Man of Steel, it does seem like they engineered the universe for one that Batman could comfortably exist in. For some reason(s) this news isn’t blowing my mind though. There’s too many “unknowns” to really get a sense of how this is going to work. Which makes sense, because it was just announced yesterday, and they didn’t give any specifics. Which also makes sense, because they aren’t even going to be shooting this “showdown” until sometime in 2014, but that doesn’t mean we can’t unfairly speculate; does it?
So, there are a few things that we do know, at this point. Zack Snyder will be directing, David Goyer is writing, and Christopher Nolan will be producing. Hmmm… I didn’t exactly “love” Man of Steel, so, I don’t exactly find all this very comforting. A lot of that has to do with Goyer’s involvement more than the other two. Goyer worked on all the scripts for the most recent Batman films, but it was more of a collaborative effort. The final/shooting scripts were done by Nolan and his brother, and I’m not sure that was the case concerning Man of Steel. It seems like David Goyer was on, as the main writer, till the very end, and look how great that script turned out(Whether you like that movie or not, you have to admit that the script was pretty terrible.)… He seems like he’s a really great “big ideas” guy, and stumbles when it comes to little, incidental details like “good dialogue,” “characters with reasonable motivations and reactions to plot,” and ” basic story structure.” His entire career has been plagued with these problems, but, you know, “friends in high places,” and all that… There’s one more thing that is “known,” but we’ll save that for now.
Okay, here’s a few questions, and concerns I have concerning this flick. They’re in no particular order, and blah, blah, blah…
Question #1: If this is a “new” Batman, are they going to re-boot the character?
This is one of the bigger quandaries I have. During the SDCC 2013 panel, Zack Snyder used the word “new” concerning Batman. cSo, I guess we can assume that this isn’t connected to Nolan’s Batman universe. I mean, it totally could be. Like I said before, the tone of the most recent Superman flick could easily work with the Nolan version of Batman, but I have a feeling that it’s going to be unrelated. Nolan’s trilogy is a closed story(Or at least it should be…), and it would be weird to have that movie’s Bruce Wayne again pick up the cape and cowl, and don’t give me that John Blake bull shit. Whether they connect the franchises or not, it has to be Bruce Wayne. Having said that though, they did announce this “union” with a quote from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, which posits a more, at least at the start, adversarial dynamic between the two characters, and I could possibly see the Bruce Wayne of Nolan’s universe coming out of retirement to see what all the hullabaloo. Again, I really doubt it.
So, if this is a “new” Batman, are they going to have to do some type of origin story? I mean, obviously, they don’t, but will they “try,” I guess is a better way to put it. I really hope not. This movie is already going to have enough elements at play, this being in actuality the sequel to Man of Steel(More on that in a second, or two…), and will have it’s own story elements to contend with; there’s not going to be a ton of time to do anything more than a “half assed” version. The thing is, if this is a “new” Batman then there is not going to be any awareness in the movie’s universe, or in the audience’s perception, as to the type of character he is. What kind of Batman is he going to be? It has the potential to come off as too slight, and be nothing more than “cool.” It seems symptomatic of the way this franchise is going. They want us to bring in with us our knowledge of these characters while at the same time asking us to disregard the things that don’t support it’s thesis.
Question #2: Man of Steel 2?
Apparently, this superhero team up flick is going to be Man of Steel 2, which I find really unfortunate. Like I said, I didn’t really love the first one, but in the end, I had hopes for the sequel. They have a real opportunity to not only engage in some “course correction,” but also make a “real” Superman movie. Now, I don’t mean for that to sound snarky; that’s not my intention, but Man of Steel plays out more like a prologue to the character and the universe than a cohesive whole. Now that he, and the universe, is a known quantity, there is an opportunity to tell a more “classic” type Superman tale; bringing about a character that shares the ideology of the character we know and love. I’ll accept the weird characterization of the first film, and that he had to go through some “tough lessons” to become the character we know if it’s paid off in the sequel. It could retro-actively change my opinion of the first film(Only from a story stand point though. The messy storytelling, from a script perspective, will always be there, unfortunately.). Putting Batman in the movie is going to, maybe, gut this film, and stagnate the progress of Superman as a character. Yeah, seeing these two character duke it out would be “cool,” but I don’t want it to come at the cost of short changing Superman, or Batman, for that matter.
In my opinion, this team-up sounds like it would be better suited as the third film in the series, and act as a bridge to a Justice League movie. Like what Marvel is doing with Guardians of the Galaxy, as a build up to The Avengers 2. They “need’ to do a better job with setting up this universe as a place where this potential “super friends” scenario could take place. We “need” to see Lex Luthor, and have a better understanding of the dynamics of this world, and how other heros could exist in it. I understand that they don’t want to go headlong into another Batman franchise(Most likely for financial reasons, I suppose. Those films are expensive, and having two “huge” productions running simultaneously would most certainly be costly.) after just capping off the Dark Knight Trilogy, for fear of “franchise fatigue,” but this doesn’t seem like a good idea to me. Not yet anyways.
This movie seems reactionary to the box office of Man of Steel. Even though that movie made a a lot of money, it still under performed, and didn’t meet their gross expectations. Well, not yet at least. That’s the problem with the way major studios make financial decisions these days. It’s all about the first and second weekend grosses, and the fact that this announcement came a little over a month after the movie premiered, I suspect that this was definitely a motivating factor. For some reason, Batman just sells more tickets. It also helps that they are, generally, pretty good movies(Although, The Dark Knight Rises does not it any way hold up to scrutiny of, like, any kind.). Word of mouth didn’t do Man of Steel any favors, let me tell you.
I don’t know. I feel like this is a misstep, honestly. It has the potential to be really messy.
Question #3: Does this mean there isn’t going to be any new Batman movies in the foreseeable future?
Up front, Batman is my favorite DC character. Yeah, I know, “Typical!” He’s always struck me as the most interesting, probably, because I find him the most relate-able. No, not because he’s “bad ass,” and “dark,” but because he’s human. There isn’t anything “supernatural” about him. He’s a man, and deals with human limitations. The best Batman stories always deal with this aspect. Out of all the super heroes, this is probably the thing that sets him apart from most of his super hero peer group. There’s something about his determination, and righteous attitude, that I find interesting; from a psychological stand point.
Most Batman stories, the good ones anyways, are usually pretty small in scale when juxtaposed against the adventures of the larger DC character oeuvre. They are more often than not very personal stories, and force Batman to face some sort of “personal demon,” or something happens that challenges his preconceptions about justice. That’s what makes his journey special, and unique. Sure other heroes have had similar arcs, but they usually happen amidst some type of world changing event. Rarely, anything that dramatic is going down in Gotham. Batman is small scale, and when he saves the lives of a few, it packs just as much impact as Superman saving the world in one of his stories. The thing about all this is, he really needs his own movie to be able to explore any of this dynamic. He has to be a fully realized character, and not just a “prop.”
That’s really at the heart of my worries concerning this new flick. If you strip away the psychological complexity of his character, he’ll just come off as a terse ass hole, because, honestly, on the superficial plain, that’s what he is. A maniac, vigilante narcissist. Who’s more concerned with his own sense of justice than actually having a truly positive effect. Without context, his decisions, and how he goes about things, will come off as some type of fascist wet dream. That’s why it’s going to be weird to have this “adversarial” dynamic between Batman and Superman. Without actually making a characterization, how are we going to understand his motivations?
So, it would seem that this is how they are going to introduce Batman, and continue in subsequent films, in this new iteration. He’s going to be a side character. Especially considering the other DC film announcements they made. Not a whole lot of room for a Batman movie in there. This would be fine, if not for the above mentioned reasons. I’m not “frothing at the bit” for a new Batman movie, or anything, but if they are going to do the character I would rather he be done well. There’s a possibility that everyone loses.
Well, maybe they’ll go in a completely different direction. Something really out of left field….
At the end of the day, I don’t really know. In fact, no one really knows. Hell, they just announced this thing. So, who knows? No one really; that’s who. They haven’t even written it yet, so, even the creative forces behind it are still “figuring it out.” I really don’t want to be overly cynical about this. Honestly, it just gets mentally exhausting. I hope to have my fears laid to rest, and to be proven wrong. It’s a conceptually awesome idea, and I would love it if this thing turns out well. It would be a classic “win-win” scenario for fans and the studio alike. So, here’s hoping!