OPINION: "Let's Talk Sequel!"

Author: Jett
Wednesday, August 6, 2008

With THE DARK KNIGHT still kicking MAJOR box office ass right now, people everywhere are wanting to know about “The next one.”

Will there be another BATMAN? Who will be the villain? Will Chris Nolan even return for a third one? Those are among the many Bat-questions on everyone’s minds, so let talk a little about “BATMAN 3.”

When I had the honor of sitting down and visiting with director Chris Nolan during the TDK press junket back in June [CLICK HERE to read my interview with Chris. - Jett], I didn’t ask him about a sequel because I knew he was going to get hammered with that question during the roundtables.

And exactly as I anticipated, he did.

“I don’t know what I’d do with another [Batman movie], or what might happen next,” Chris told us. “I felt in doing THE DARK KNIGHT that it would be a big mistake on our part to hold anything back for future films. We put everything you can into this movie to make it as great as it can be.”

Nolan is notorious for playing things close to the vest when it comes to Batman sequels. He was coy and kept mum after BATMAN BEGINS and he’s doing it now in the wake of THE DARK KNIGHT.

I totally believe Chris when he says he doesn’t know if he’s going to do another one and you should as well. It takes nearly two years to produce a BATMAN film and I’m sure it takes a lot of out of the man. I’m positive that he needs time away from Gotham City to recharge his Bat-batteries.

When it’s all said and done, I personally believe (Hope?) that Chris Nolan will decide in favor of one more go around and will sign on for a third -- and probably final BATMAN. For this creative team at least.

Gary Oldman -- who plays Commissioner Gordon in these Bat-Films -- said it best I believe about a second sequel and the prospects of Nolan directing it. “I do think that there will be a third one, yeah. And I think that Chris will do a third," predicted Oldman. He continued, “I’m pretty much convinced -- it’s his baby, you know? He’s not going to give his baby up.”

While Chris Nolan may need a little time off and some convincing to return for a third BATMAN, that’s not necessarily the case with everyone else.

Batman himself, Christian Bale, has stated several times that he gladly put on the cape and cowl again. “I would -- knowing the story of THE DARK KNIGHT -- I would like very much to complete a trilogy,” Bale said about a potential sequel in April of ’08 at ShoWest. “THE DARK KNIGHTleaves you anticipating something that really can get very, very interesting for a third.”

And ain’t THAT the truth!

As we all now know, THE DARK KNIGHT ends with the death of Harvey Dent who has murdered five people after being scarred and becoming “Two Face.” The Batman tells Gordon that he’ll take the blame for Harvey’s crimes so the people of Gotham can continue to look up to the now deceased “White Knight.” As a result, The Dark Knight is essentially on the run from the police for crimes he didn’t commit; he also harbors a great deal of guilt for what happened to Harvey and due to the death of of his lifelong friend, Rachel Dawes.

So yeah, I agree with Christian that a third one can be very, very interesting.

But what will it take for Bale to see his wish of a third film to come to fruition? “It is completely in the hands of Chris Nolan,” he told me in June at the TDK press junket. “I can’t imagine doing [another BATMAN] without Chris. I don’t even want to consider that because he’s created this. All of this is his.”

When I had the chance to visit with David Goyer and Jonah Nolan earlier this Summer [CLICK HERE for the interview. - Jett], I got a strong impression that both of these folks would really like to give a sequel a go. Call it a gut feeling or whatever, that’s the vibe I got -- especially from Jonah Nolan.

Says Goyer, “I think Warner Bros would like to do another one.” I’m sure they do with TDK sitting at over $400 million at the box office since its release 3 weeks -- give or take -- ago. “It wasn’t until three or four months after the first one [BATMAN BEGINS] that Chris called and suggested we talk about another one. It was a scary proposition trying to do this one [THE DARK KNIGHT], and it’s a similar scary proposition to try to do another one.”

Regardless of how “scary” it is, Goyer is on record saying that at least some talk about a third has gone on. “We’ve only talked loosely about it, Chris and I,” Goyer told MTV recently. He continued “I have [a theme and villain], but I’m not going to tell you. Chris is very particular about that.”

But just like Christian Bale, Jonah Nolan told me that another BATMAN -- with THIS team -- is up to one person. “It’s all up to Chris.”

OK, let’s assume that Bale, Goyer, and Jonah Nolan convince C-Nol that there IS a fantastic story to be told that warrants a third BATMAN. Who is going to be the “Batman Villain?”

Well, I think you can rule out The Joker. I don’t not believe that we’ll see The Joker in any form or fashion in the next film. I am now of the belief that once they came up with the story that ultimately became TDK, the filmmakers never intended to bring him back. The Batman's battle with The Joker is never-ending anyway. As The Joker in TDK said, "I have a feeling we'll be doing this forever."

And frankly, I think after the performance that Heath Ledger gave, it’d be on the semi-disrespectful side to recast for the very next film.

Plus, who in the hell would want to follow Heath now?!

I’d also scratch Two Face off the list as well. For one thing, he’s dead and I don’t think that Nolan’s into zombie films.

Is the ending of TDK ambiguous enough to realistically bring back Two Face? Sorta. But doing so opens up a huge can of worms plot-wise in my opinion. Chris Nolan, David Goyer, and Jonah Nolan’s THE DARK KNIGHT has Two Face dying at the end. They've said as much and it's written as such in the script. I don’t see them “undying” him.

And listen to me here, OK? Eckhart's comments in which he said he'd love to come back mean NOTHING. He said that so that he wouldn't spoil anything for those who haven't seen it yet. Hell, Maggie Gyllenhaal has said the same thing -- you think she's coming back?!

According to David Goyer, don’t expect the expected. “You know the thing is with [BATMAN BEGINS], people would say ‘Who are you going to use? The Penguin, The Joker, The Riddler?” said Goyer. “These are the well known characters -- known principally from the TV show -- and guess what, we used Ra’s Al Ghul and The Scarecrow. Now they weren’t characters from the other films or the TV show but these were big characters from the comics. And there are a lot of big characters in the comics that haven’t been used -- comic book readers know who they are though.”

Will Nolan use one of these BIG Batman baddies? History says maybe not.

But they have to be realistic, right? Yes, says Goyer. “For us, it would be who could you take and depict in a realistic way and a realistic light.” Screenwriter Jonah Nolan added, “Yeah, this particular vision of Batman requires that and eliminates some of the choices -- you’re not going to see Clayface.”

The good thing is that Batman’s rogues gallery pretty much adheres to Nolan’s “realistic” mandate, so says Jonah Nolan. “Most [Batman villains] are very realistic. The rogues gallery is BIG and it’s DEEP -- that bench has a lot of depth. A lot of those characters feel as if they could fit into our ‘realistic’ world.”

As far as any of the rumors that have been making the rounds of late -- Johnny Depp as The Riddler/Philip Seymour Hoffman as The Penguin -- are BS. However, I will say that these two villains exist in the Nolanverse as "The Iceberg Lounge" and "Edward Nashton" were mentioned in THE GOTHAM TIMES.

Regardless, don't put much stock into any of these casting rumors right now. And I can guarantee it’s going to get NUTS! After TDK, every actor in Hollywood is going to want to be in the next Bat-film.

So there you have it, the current “status” -- if there even is one -- of BATMAN 3.

The key of course is getting Chris back for one more and if so, everything else will fall into place. Personally, my trust for this man and his team when it comes to Batman films is unequivocal. Hell, Warner Bros. could issue a press release saying that the villain for the next film is Crazy Quilt and I’d be down with it as long as Nolan’s directing.

When pray tell will we finally hear something official?

Well, going by what went down with THE DARK KNIGHT, I suspect that if Chris signs on for #3 sometime over the next year, the word will come down from Burbank during the Summer of 2009 -- probably around Comic Con in July.

Until then, just relax and enjoy all the rumors and hype because trust me, it’s going to be Bat-Crazy!

"Jett" is the founder of BATMAN-ON-FILM.COM.
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