Since the announcement of the Superman/Batman film for Man of Steel 2, I could not help but wonder about what this film needs in order to be successful and why it needs to be successful. Marvel’s The Avengers was a big hit with moviegoers, and I have to think that Warner Brothers and DC feel behind the eight ball with their lack of a Justice League film. But with the steps that Zack Snyder, DC and Warner Brothers are taking, I think they are on the right track. Simply rushing out to do a Justice League movie would likely prove to be a disaster. But what can they do with Superman and Batman to make it a success?
We do not know very much at all what this Superman and Batman movie will be about. At Comic-Con, we were merely shown a logo, and Harry Lennix reading an excerpt from the graphic novel The Dark Night Returns. You can read about the full reveal here:
Comic-Con 2013 Man of steel 2 Reveal: Batman
What will make Man of Steel 2 compelling considering the polarizing first film?
Zack Snyder prefaced the reading saying that this is just an excerpt to convey who will be in the movie. Does this mean that he will not be following The Dark Knight Returns graphic novel storyline? Superman and Batman have had a lot of run-ins throughout their comic history, but this is probably the most well-known crossover between the two characters. For those unfamiliar with The Dark Knight Returns graphic novel, the story revolves around Batman coming out of retirement, and trying to become a hero again. In the novel, he faces off with Superman, who has become an agent of the US Government. I will not spoil the ending, but it is a good read if you haven’t read it yet.
There have been a lot of rumors swirling regarding the new movie. Several websites have stated that David Goyer, the screenwriter for Man of Steel and now Man of Steel 2, let it slip that Batman and Superman will meet as enemies rather than partners. This certainly leads to some credibility to following The Dark Knight Returns storyline.
The Superman and Batman film certainly needs to address the destruction left in the wake of Superman’s fight. Clark cannot simply move on with his life, without acknowledging his part in the disaster. I am not angry about the destruction in the last film (I have explained my opinion of the destruction in our Man of Steel Review here), but not addressing it in the next film would be a huge mistake. Batman could be the perfect catalyst for this to happen. Perhaps from Gotham, we can see Bruce Wayne seeing the destruction caused by Superman, causing Batman to feel a need to stop the Man of Steel.
There were rumors of Lex Luthor being in the next Man of Steel film as well, which could be the wrench that eventually allies the two heroes. In fact, there have even been rumors that either Bryan Cranston or Mark Strong may play the part of Lex Luthor. Some friends and I have thought that Batman may ally himself with Lex Luthor in order to take Superman down. Unknowing of Luthor’s sinister nature until later in the film, Batman would eventually come to the realization that Lex is the enemy, thus bringing Superman and Batman together in the end.
The problem I foresee with the Superman/Batman movie is of course the huge discrepancy in abilities. Man of Steel has yet to introduce Kryptonite into the lore of the films, which I felt Zack Snyder intentionally did in order to avoid the “hokey” feeling Kryptonite can portray. In the Superman/Batman film, in order to equalize the playing field for Batman, and to make the conflict seem believable, something will have to be introduced to weaken Superman. The easiest solution for this is probably Kryptonite. Hopefully this can be done in a not “cheesy” way, so that audiences are not simply rolling their eyes as they see Henry Cavill terribly trying to portray the effects of Kryptonite as Superman.
Now the biggest question of all: Who is going to play Batman? We do not know the answer yet. Rumors initially swirled around Joseph Gordon Levitt. This was likely primarily due to events at the end of The Dark Knight Rises. Recently, more rumors have circulated that the studio is looking for a 35 to 40 year old to play an older Batman. Joseph Gordon Levitt is a bit on the young side, and especially young looking. If the rumors are true, Levitt might be out of the running (if he even wanted to be in it). Other rumors have Orlando Bloom playing Batman, which I personally feel would not work. Also, rumors of Christian Bale being offered $50 million to come back have been floating around. If that were true, how could he say no?
How to make Batman work.
I have decided to make my list of solutions I think that Warner Brothers/Zack Snyder have open in regards to how Batman should be handled in the new film. I have ranked highest to lowest based on my humble opinion:
1. Christian Bale realizes he is the RDJ of the DC Universe.
Christian Bale reprising his role as The Dark Knight would simply make me the happiest camper there ever was. Unfortunately, Christian Bale has said he will not return as Batman numerous times. There are some rumors being passed around of exorbitant amounts of money being thrown at Christian Bale returning as Batman, but these, so far, are unsubstantiated. I would be all for this however, as it would make the smoothest transition to the inevitable Justice League film. It would mean Christian Bale being the Batman for a very long time, however, which he so far doesn’t seem excited to do.
Robert Downey Jr., however, has made The Avengers and Iron Man what it is today. He has signed on for two more Avengers movies, and is likely one of the richest actors in Hollywood. Christian Bale has the same opportunity for Batman! Why not take it?
Some people I have talked to feel that Nolan’s Batman and Snyder’s Superman can’t exist in the same Universe, but I don’t think this is the case. Snyder has made it clear that Superman is the first extraterrestrial encounter for humanity, and as long as Snyder keeps the storylines grounded in reality, I think that it could work.
2. Joseph Gordon Levitt’s character Blake From The Dark Knight Rises coming in as Batman.
Ideally, if this were to be the case, I would like another Batman film before Superman and Batman being in the same film, in order to establish Gordon as the new Batman. Having Gordon playing a fresh Batman would be hard to swallow, as he hasn’t had nearly as much training as Batman should have to take on Superman. This option also doesn’t really “fit” with the general movie going audience though, as almost everyone knows Batman as Bruce Wayne (despite there being several instances where someone has taken the reigns for him for at least a brief amount of time). But this still stays in the same universe as Nolan’s films, and we have had quite a bit of “origin story” already hashed out for Blake.
3. A new actor, but the same Batman.
This certainly would make some people unhappy (a friend of mine especially), as a theme for The Dark Knight Rises is Bruce Wayne not needing to be Batman any longer. For Batman to come back again, I can see the contradictory feel this would provide. However, I also feel, having read The Dark Knight Returns and knowing Batman’s psychopathic tendencies, and his obsessive need to be Batman, it is something that is definitely believable. In fact, that is exactly what The Dark Knight Returns is about—his inability to stop being the Bat. While the film doesn’t have to explicitly state he is the same Batman, I do not want a completely different Batman persona. This would be similar to what Marvel did with The Avengers. There isn’t a whole lot mentioned combining the Hulk movies and The Avengers other than a couple post credit scenes in other films.
4. What I really do not want–A new Batman with rehashed Origin.
I really do not want to have to rehash Batman’s origin story yet again, especially when Christopher Nolan has already done such a terrific job with Batman Begins. The biggest benefit I can see to having a new Batman would be that The Dark Knight Returns themes played out in The Dark Knight Rises would not be rehashed again. This may provide too much déjà vu for audiences. But I feel going with a “new” Batman will make his character harder to relate to, and make filming the next movie much more difficult, having to manage so many plots–Batman’s origin story again, Superman’s story, and Batman and Superman’s conflict. It could be doable, but I worry it would feel too rushed, potentially hurting the ability to relate to either Batman or Superman.
Overall, I am very excited for the Superman and Batman film, regardless of what is done. What I really hope is that it is done right, as blowing this film could spell disaster for future DC films, particularly Justice League. All we can do for now is wait and see, and throw more money at Christian Bale so that he reprises his role as the Bat!