It’s a dicey – and very important – period of time when it comes to the future of Batman on film. Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight Trilogy” has come and gone and will not be continued via additional sequels. Warner Bros. is hell-bent on making a Justice League film as well as creating a cinematic DC Universe – Batman included. With THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
being both the end of Nolan’s Batman on film and the “Nolanverse,” the movie incarnation of the character is going to be rebooted again.
Before we go any further, I must say something to the people who think that continuing the “Nolanverse” ( i.e. using characters from and the continuity of “The Dark Knight Trilogy) is a good idea: It’s NOT.
Christian Bale isn’t going to return and Joseph Gordon-Levitt isn’t going to pay John “Batman” Blake in JUSTICE LEAUGE either. If you’re one of those thinking, “Well, it might happen…it could happen,” let it go. The “Nolanverse” unequivocally ended with THE DARK KNIGHT RISES and isn’t going to be hijacked for JUSTICE LEAGUE or a Nolanverse sequel either.
Yes, I KNOW Warner Bros. owns the character of Batman and can do whatever they want with him on the big screen. However, I can’t imagine them continuing the Nolanverse since the studio was OK with the director explicitly ending it with THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. Unless Chris Nolan signs off on it – and I highly doubt that will ever happen – even discussing Nolanverse sequels and/or shoehorning its continuity into a unified DC Universe on film is a moot point.
Now that we are all (hopefully) on the same page and realize the extension of the Nolanverse is off the table, let’s talk about the next chapter of Batman on film realistically. And yes, that’s going to require some compromising from yours truly.
Much to my chagrin, a Justice League movie is going to happen – that is now an indisputable fact which I am no longer going to challenge (even though I still believe it to be a bad idea right now and such a film will have a negative affect on the solo Batman on film). Therefore, we need to take that into account when discussing what’s best for the cinematic future of The Dark Knight.
What also needs to be acknowledged is that it is going to be one HELL of an act to follow for both the actor who is cast as the next movie Batman, as well as the filmmakers given the task of helming JUSTICE LEAGUE and the next solo Batman film. Would you want to be the actor or director that has to follow Christian Bale and Chris Nolan? Regardless of the tremendous challenge, it’s going to happen – and it’s going to happen sooner rather than later.
Based on the hand that’s being dealt, here’s what I recommend for Batman on film to my good friends over in Burbank…
The Batman that appears in JUSTICE LEAGUE should be a fully formed/ in the prime Caped Crusader. This Batman should also be the same Batman that ends up in the new solo films post-JUSTICE LEAGUE. While this Batman will be introduced in JL, the filmmaker hired for BATMAN REBOOTED should be the one to provide this Batman’s backstory as well as the overall tone of the solo movies. And speaking of the solo movies…
They need to go the BATMAN BEYOND route. Why? Because the next solo Batman film trilogy – and yes, these things need to be done as trilogies from now on – MUST be totally different from what we’ve had previously. I’m talking different from BOTH the Burton/Schumacher “Quadrilogy” and the three Nolan films.
I say make the aged Bruce Wayne of the BEYOND trilogy the “same” Bruce Wayne that’s in the JUSTICE LEAGUE film(s). In JL, we should only see Batman’s dealings with Superman, Wonder Woman and the rest of the cinematic DCU. In the BEYOND trilogy, the “new” Batman’s world can be explored in a non-linear fashion that features both the young/in-his-prime Batman, as well as his elderly incarnation. And of course, you’d use the same actor that plays Batman in JL in the BEYOND trilogy.
Now, I’d completely leave the “DCU Batman” in JUSTICE LEAGUE. If you’re jonesing for a Batman that is able to fly into space to fight aliens and gods; a Batman that can stand toe-to-toe with any super-powered being; a Batman who can travel through time; or, a Batman that routinely engages monsters, magic, and the supernatural (*sigh*), you’ll find him in the JUSTICE LEAGUE films. BUT...
When it comes to the solo Batman films, that sort of garbage…err… "characterization" ...needs to be left OUT.
Speaking specifically about the solo Batman films, we’d be getting something completely different with a BATMAN BEYOND adaptation. By using the non-linear story approach, the new DCU Batman’s origin, battles with classic villains and relationships with the “Batman Family” can still be told. All the while, we’re also treated to the exploits of the future Batman (Terry McGinnis) and his relationship to the original.
Aesthetically, think “Batman meets BLADE RUNNER. Also, BEYOND as a live-action film trilogy should not be beholden to the source material – the movies need only to use the animated series as inspiration. Yes, the core premise of the original BEYOND – an ageing Bruce Wayne passing the Mantle of the Bat to a young protégé – should remain intact, but that certainly doesn’t mean that the filmmakers can’t do their own thing with it.
So there you have it BOF readers, my take on how Warner Bros. should precede with Batman on film in the future. What do you think? Is a non-linear, BATMAN BEYOND-based trilogy the right way to go when it comes to the next solo Batman trilogy? Can the JL Batman and the solo movie Batman be the same (continuity), but different (tone/aesthetic)? Let us know what you think on the BOF FACEBOOK PAGE and/or SHOOT ME AN EMAIL!
Of course, if Warner Bros. decides to s**t-can the entire Justice League film project, they certainly ain't going to get any complaints from me! - Bill "Jett" Ramey