"Be Careful of What You Wish For" Posted by: Bill "Jett" Ramey (Follow @BATMANONFILM)
June, 17 2014
Well, Warner Bros. is finally going all out and is creating a full-blown, live-action DC Universe on film.
Virtual conga lines on fanboy message boards are taking place as we speak.
If you belong to the segment of DC’s fandom that has been clamoring for such a thing for years, then congrats, you’re finally getting what you’ve been wishing for. More on that in a bit.
Let me be clear, I’ve long supported more live-action DC on film. If you’re a longtime reader of BOF, you know this to be true. My track record as an advocate for DC on film speaks for itself. Last summer, BOF turned into “Superman On Film” as I backed, promoted, and sang the praises of MAN OF STEEL. Hell for years, I was one of the biggest backers of a Green Lantern film and they ultimately did make one – and we all know how that turned out, right? ANYWAY…
There’s this perception that I don’t like any other DC characters other than Batman and that via BOF, I actively lobby against any film based on a DC character other than Batman. Both of those claims are total and complete nonsense.
The fact of the matter is that I’d LOVE to see MANY DC-based films from my friends at Warner Bros. What I don’t like are contrived team-up DC superhero films like, well, the JUSTICE LEAGUE movie we’re definitely getting down the line. And now it seems that BATMAN v SUPERMAN is becoming nothing more than a setup vehicle – a two and a half hour commercial for JUSTICE LEAGUE. I hope not, but that's certainly a valid impression people - including me - are getting.
Think about it y'all, first they announced Batman would be in the MAN OF STEEL sequel. Then we found out that Wonder Woman would be included. Then it was announced that Cyborg was a character in the film. And now we learn that Aquaman is part of the story as well! What went from being a pretty cool thing – the first live-action film with both Batman and Superman – has seemingly turned into a pre-Justice League Justice League movie. Looking at it from the outside, BATMAN v SUPERMAN is starting to look rather bloated. As someone who regularly preaches patience when it comes judging comic book films before one actually sees it, I’ll frankly admit that I’m having a hard time practicing what I preach. Hypocritical? Yeah, probably a little bit...or maybe a lot.
I’ll admit that my personal Batman sensibilities strongly influence my opinion about BATMAN v SUPERMAN, JUSTICE LEAGUE, and any other films in the future that will include Batman and fantastical characters and events. Batman is popular – especially amongst the mainstream audience – because he doesn’t have superpowers. He doesn’t fly, crawl up walls, or have superhuman strength; and he certainly isn’t invulnerable. We love Batman because he’s one of us: a human. Thus, he’s relatable. Superman – and I love Superman – isn’t relatable. Neither is Spider-Man, Thor, The Flash, Green Lantern or the Hulk. Hell, none of these characters are truly relatable because they are, essentially, gods on Earth.
Frankly, I think the potential of Batman looking downright silly on the big screen alongside aliens and magic and monsters and superhuman beings is HUGE. Think about it…Batman – the urban crime fighter without any superpowers – is a member of a team that consists of an invincible flying alien, a direct decedent of the Greek gods, and a dude who lives underwater and talks to sea creatures. Yeah, there’s no way that can come off goofy!
And please, spare me the “Well, it works in the comics dammit!” argument. Films are not comics – they are two entirely different mediums. Secondly, ninety nine percent of a comic book movie’s audience doesn’t read comics (nor did they watch the animated JUSTICE LEAGUE TV series – so that argument doesn’t wash either). Therefore the things that comic book fans accept without blinking an eye, can look awfully ridiculous to those who don’t read them.
Call me a Chris Nolan butt-kisser all you want (I’ll personally wear that moniker as a badge of honor), but I think he was absolutely correct when he said that “these things” – i.e. comic book movies – work best when they allowed to be their own thing and exist in their own universe. If you want to make an Aquaman film starring Jason Momoa as the King of Atlantis, that's more than fine by me. How about hiring a filmmaker with a vision and a passion for the character and let him do his thing…WITHOUT having to account for the events and continuity of other movies. Same thing goes for Wonder Woman, Shazam, Sandman, and so forth and so on. Hell, make a B’wana Beast film for all I care…as long as the filmmaker selected to bring it to the big screen is allowed the freedom for it to be its own thing.
Another filmmaking belief of Chris Nolan that’s not only brilliant, but inspired, is his conviction that when making a movie, you put everything in it and hold nothing back. In other words, make the film you want and don’t worry about sequels – they’ll take care of themselves. This is exactly why I’m concerned about BATMAN v SUPERMAN being a commercial for what’s coming next. I mean really folks, no one is going to convince me that Cyborg (Ray Fisher), Aquaman, and even Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) aren’t being included in this film for any other reason than to set up a Justice League film? Come on!
Look, this op-ed is NOT intended to be a knock on Zack Snyder. I like and respect him a lot. I know he loves and has a tremendous passion for these characters (including Batman) just like all of us. I don’t doubt at all that this cat is going to do his best when it comes to respecting the history and mythos of all of them in his films. But that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t be concerned about the direction and future of Batman on film; because THAT my friends, is my bottom line.
Ultimately, for me and BOF, this is all about Batman. I’ve run this site for over sixteen years now with one goal and one goal only: To make sure the "powers that be" do right by the character of Batman when it comes to his cinematic adventures. Honestly, I’m not sure putting Batman on film alongside aliens and magic and monsters and superpowered beings is the right thing for the character. Chalking it all up as "It's just coo-well dood!" just isn't good enough for me.
A life-long Batman fan, Bill "Jett" Ramey
is the founder of BATMAN-ON-FILM.COM.
He likes Elvis, The University of Texas,
Dallas Cowboys Football, and of course...
He resides in the GREAT state of TEXAS (and sometimes in Minnesota) with his lovely wife, three kids, and two Boston Terriers.