With this Summer’s THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
bringing an end to director Chris Nolan’s run as the cinematic Batman’s custodian, I’ve been racking my brain over the already announced Bat-reboot.
Here’s the deal in my opinion: What the hell can they do next with Batman on film that we haven’t already seen? The last thing Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment needs to do is make another Batman movie just for the sake of, well, making another Batman movie. You know what I mean?
Team Nolan’s take on Batman following the Burton/Schumacher quadrilogy was inspired and nothing like what had came before. He took the most “realistic” comic book superhero and placed him in a universe that was familiar to the audience. No gothic, macabre netherworlds; no campy, neon-saturated surroundings this time around. No, Chris Nolan and co. gave us a Batman that was not only more loyal to the source material, but a Dark Knight that existed in our world.
But I’m not here today to sing the praises of Team Nolan. No, I’m here to suggest a route that Warner Bros. could possibly take when it comes to the next incarnation of Batman on film. So here you go…
What about BATMAN BEYOND?
BLADE RUNNER set in Gotham City! And you know how much Chris Nolan loves BLADE RUNNER and he's going to be producing!
Look, I know that there is a segment of Bat-Fans who don’t necessarily dig BEYOND. I do think, however, that many of the folks who “hated it” when the series first premiered, eventually came around to it as time went by. So I absolutely get that suggesting such a film will get a “If it ain’t Bruce Wayne, it ain’t Batman!” response from many. Quite frankly, I 100% agree. I'm the one who raised ten kinds of hell when Bruce got "Omega Sanctioned" to the Stone Age in the comics and Dick Grayson took over as Batman!
But here’s the deal with my live-action BEYOND pitch: It’s got to focus on Bruce Wayne. Bruce, not Terry McGinnis, MUST be the main character.
Still with me? Good! Here’s how I’d do it…
Like the animated series, Bruce Wayne is old, let’s say in his 70s, and hasn’t prowled the nights in Gotham City as The Dark Knight for over 30 years. I’ll leave it to potential screenwriters to come up with the reason why The Batman retired, but it could have been for many reasons. Namely, he got too old to do it.
When it comes to how Terry becoming the "New Batman," I think the way it was done in the animated series works, as it gives Bruce and McGinnis something in common: The murder of a parent. Maybe Terry, like in the show, accidentally stumbles upon Bruce Wayne and discovers his secret? On the other hand, perhaps Terry is actually recruited by Bruce? Regardless, it’s Bruce that’s calling the shots and in actuality, still THE BATMAN.
Now here is my suggestion of how you make this work and it totally jibes with my mandate that Bruce Wayne has to be the main character: You make it a “flashback movie.”
What I mean is that half the film would feature Old Bruce and Terry as Batman, and the other half would have Bruce in the Bat-Suit. You make the narrative non-linear over the course of the film -- going back and forth between time periods -- which, in my opinion, gives us both something new, but a Bruce Wayne Batman as well.
Now, you’d have to cast two actors as Bruce Wayne in this scenario. If it were me, I’d avoid the “Bring back Michael Keaton!” impulse and cast, I don’t know, a Clint Eastwood as the old Bruce Wayne. How about a Ryan Gosling for the young/in-his-prime Bruce Batman? (If Gosling can play a young James Garner, he can also play a young Clint, don’t you think?)
How about Ryan Gosling as The Batman?
The young version of Eastwood's Old Bruce Wayne?
Before you get your knickers in a twist my ’ol chaps and chapettes, there’s no “Burton Bat-Hate” at hand here, trust me. You simply want to create a new continuity and Bat-Universe and definitely NOT harken back to the days of yesteryear.
The same goes for suggesting Adam West, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, or Christian Bale, OK? And for gosh sakes DO NOT bring up the name of Kevin Conroy! Anyway…
What do you think BOF’ers? Am I off base here, or could a BEYOND-based premise ultimately work as a viable live-action Batman on film?
I say yes indeedy it could! The idea of having our Bat-cake and eating it too -- Old Bruce, young Bruce-Batman, Terry-Batman, two movies in one -- is rather growing on me. Maybe it's just me, but I'm thinking the possibilities are there for great director and creative team to some some really cool stuff over the course of a trilogy, or more, of Bat-Films.