Monday, 22 July 2013

Batman / Superman Movie: Is it too soon? And how to do it right.

After watching Man of Steel, I couldn’t help but ask myself “How are they going to top that?” With full on super human fights, half a city being destroyed and an alien invasion that almost consumed the earth, it seemed pretty impossible to better in terms of scale. It turns out the answer is simple…

Add Batman.

Yes, this weekend at the San Diego Comic-Con, Warner Bros announced that the follow up to Man of Steel will be a Superman / Batman cross over. The extent to how much Batman will be in the film is yet to be revealed, it could essentially be Man of Steel 2 Featuring Batman but all indications are pointing towards a full blown Batman Vs Superman movie.

Now, as much as I want to see a Batman / Superman movie, part of me is slightly concerned this is being rushed into production so Warner Bros can get some Avenger sized box office for a superhero movie. Don’t get me wrong a Batman / Superman movie stands to make huge money, but it needs to be done right not quickly. Also bear in mind that the script isn’t finished yet, with a release scheduled for summer 2015, that’s less than 2 years away. That may sound like a lot of time, but in terms of a big summer blockbuster it’s not really, Man of Steel was in production for over 3 years.

The other potential problem is this film is going to have a new Batman, so part of film will have to re-introduce him, I don’t think they’ll go retelling the origin but an introduction to who Batman is in this world will be required. Remember, this movie is going to be released only 3 years after The Dark Knight Rises, so general audience are going to expect this to be linked to the Nolan Trilogy version of Batman. Warner Bros has said it won’t be linked, but mainstream audiences won’t necessarily know that so re-establishing Batman will be important.

Now, if this film was to feature Christian Bale’s version of Batman then I’d be less concerned, as we’d be dealing with two versions of the lead superheroes that are already established. I also think if they want to have box office returns the size of The Avenger they need Bale, otherwise we’re dealing with an unknown quantity for a new Batman which could go either way and audience won’t have any previous connections to that version of the character. I’d be paying Christian Bale whatever he wants to get him in this movie, the additional money the film stands to make would be worth it.

Part of me is also sad we won’t get a standalone Man of Steel 2, I really enjoyed the first film and was looking forward to a second film which establishes the Clark Kent we know working for the Daily Planet and (I assume) the introduction of Lex Luthor. I’m sure we will get elements of this in the new film, but you can guarantee if Batman is included he’ll be getting the limelight.

I think Man of Steel 2 should have been done as a standalone, a reboot of Batman if a new version is definitely required and then the Batman/Superman cross over to follow. Yes, we’d have to wait a few more years but I think it’d pay off in the long run, not only commercially but as a quality film in general. However, if Christian Bale somehow gets announced for this and they decide to tie it in with the Nolan films then I’m all in for it now!

Now before you scream that’s never going to happen, allow me to explain how I think it could… (I’ve already discussed why I think Bale is required in general).

Nolan, Bale and Warner Bros have consistently said the Dark Knight trilogy is a standalone series and will not be linked to any future DC universe films. But I can still see this working, firstly I think the tone of both Man of Steel and The Dark Knight trilogy is similar enough that they won’t feel out of place together. Secondly, although the The Dark Knight trilogy was set in the “real” world, Man of Steel is also set in the “real” world and plays on the fact of what would happen if someone from outer space arrived on Earth so the Batman films up to that point could have been in the same universe. Finally, and this is where the real ties can come in, the film is supposed to be based loosely on Frank Millar’s The Dark Knight Returns. In this story Batman is retired and comes back for one last time in the cowl. Based on how The Dark Knight Rises ended, this puts Bruce Wayne / Batman basically in the same place (however a lot younger than he was in the comics). Bruce Wayne see the destruction of Metropolis on a news report, doesn’t trust Superman and decides he needs to return as Batman to protect Gotham/the World one last time. I’ll leave the rest of the story up to the filmmakers but that’s how it could happen.

Alternatively you rush this, get a new Batman that nobody cares about and don't give Superman a Man of Steel sequel he deserves. Sure you'll make a load of money opening weekend, but in the end it may not be a satisfying movie and therefore could ruin both character reboots. I hope I'm wrong, but only time will tell...


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