BATMAN ON FILM, since June 1998!
O P I N I O N

A BATMAN/SUPERMAN FILM? NO!
DATE: 11/28/05
Author:
Jett

© Copyright 2005 William E. Ramey. All rights reserved.

A few years back, news broke that Warner Bros. had greenlighted a film titled BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN to be helmed by director Wolfgang Petersen. The script was penned by the scribe of SE7EN, Andrew Kevin Walker, and later given a “polish” - without credit - by Oscar winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman. As we all know, Mr. Goldsman is vilified by Bat-fans for a little screenplay he wrote called BATMAN AND ROBIN - but that’s another story and I shall digress.

I was absolutely thrilled when I heard this news. Finally, a new Batman film would be heading to theaters! Even though the character was going to be sharing the screen with The Man of Steel, we would finally see The Dark Knight on screen again. The project had a whole lot going for it as well. The script was pretty good (even with the Goldsman re-write) and The Batman was portrayed as the dark, brooding character we wanted. In fact, BvS was basically a Batman film guest-starring Superman.

Director Wolfgang Petersen spoke publicly of his new project and how excited he was to be begin working on it. Casting rumors had Jude Law playing the Last Son of Krypton and Irish thesp Colin Farrell nabbing the role of Bruce Wayne and his dark alter ego.

And then as quickly as the project had came, it went away. Petersen announced that he was going to do the film TROY as his next project, Warner Bros. said that they were putting BvS “on hold” - they wanted to do individual BATMAN and SUPERMAN films before they teamed the characters up on the silver screen. An internal power struggle within the studio had sent the project into turnaround and was now - for all intents and purposes - dead.

“What the HELL is going on,” I wrote back when this news was announced. Upset is putting it mildly when describing how I felt when I found out this film wasn’t going to happen. Since I started BATMAN ON FILM back in 1998, this was the closest we had been to getting a new BATMAN film and now it wasn’t going to happen.

But little did we know that this was actually good news. Not long after, director Christopher Nolan entered the Bat-picture and eventually, we got the great BATMAN BEGINS this past summer. And now, the BATMAN movie franchise has been given a very successful reboot and a sequel is currently in the works

Now that The Batman has been reborn - cinematically if you will - the same thing is being done for Superman. This coming summer, the Brian Singer-directed SUPERMAN RETURNS will arrive in theaters and do for Superman what BEGINS did for The Batman. Well, sort of. Where BEGINS is a total restart, SUPERMAN RETURNS is virtually a sequel to the first two Superman films starring the late, great Christopher Reeve.

Predictably, there has already been speculation about the potential team-up of Christian Bale’s Dark Knight and Brandon Routh’s Man of Steel. When I was at the BATMAN BEGINS press junket last summer, the question of such a film was posed to Christian Bale. Bale didn’t totally dispel the idea, but it was clear to me that he was being politically correct. Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that Warner Bros. chief Alan Horn has publicly stated that he likes the BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN script and such a project could show up on the Warner Bros. schedule in the future.

What do I say to this? No. Don’t do it, and don’t even consider it. Hang your super hero movie hat on those two franchises Warner Bros., but keep them separate.

Why my about face you may ask yourself. Wasn’t I fired up for this sort of film a few years ago? Yes I was - at the time. But in retrospect, I was more happy with the idea that Batman would be showing up on film again, than I was with the actual project. Hey, I can certainly see why Warner Bros. seriously considered it at the time. It was a vehicle to potentially jump-start each of the franchises. Having both of these characters in the same movie could be big, no doubt about it. Ultimately, the correct decision was made - shelve BvS and make individual films with each character.

Honestly, there isn’t any need for a team-up film any longer. And to be frank, It’s rather gimmicky. The Batman franchise has been revived and SUPERMAN RETURNS will surely do the same for that character. I’d rather see another BATMAN and SUPERMAN instead of just one DC Comics version of LEATHAL WEAPON. Wouldn’t you?

THE REAL WORLD, GOTHAM CITY

No, I’m not talking about MTV’s long-running - ahem - “reality” show here. There is a huge fundamental difference in these characters that may work against such a film. Batman basically exists in the “real world,” while Superman is total fantasy. Yeah, yeah I hear you - how real is it for a billionaire to dress up as a giant black bat, jump across the rooftops of a major metropolitan city, and fight crime? It isn’t. But what is so cool and appealing about the Batman character, and what was so great about BATMAN BEGINS, is the realness of each.

Remember when you were a kid. You loved Batman because you thought, "if I trained real hard, and I got me some gadgets, I coud BE Batman!" Remember that? Sure you do.

On the other hand, one is required to suspend belief much more with Superman, than one has to with The Batman - and that is certainly OK. Hey, I love Big Blue, but I never thought I could BE him. Did you?

But do you think an alien who looks human, wears blue tights with a red cape, and has fantastic powers would exist in the Chris Nolan-created Bat-universe? The Joker, Two-Face, Catwoman, Scarecrow, and The Batman himself existing is one thing, but an invincible guy who flies is something else entirely.

Guys, what works in the comics (*cough* World's Finest-on-Film *cough*), may not work on the big screen. Like Robin. But that's subject for another op-ed.

There are other problems with such a film as well. Who would direct? How much screen time would each of these iconic characters - and the actors portraying them - get? Which characters from the Batman and Superman universes should be included? Would the mainstream movie audience be interested in such a film?

Look, there is nothing wrong with having subtle nods to each character between franchises. SUPERMAN RETURNS allegedly will feature a DAILY PLANET headline about “a Bat-creature.” I think that is fantastic! I wouldn’t mind, say, if a reporter from the DAILY PLANET (not necessarily Mr. Kent) shows up at one of Harvey Dent’s or Commissioner Gordon’s press conferences. Perhaps the city of Metropolis is mentioned, ala BATMAN FOREVER in a future Bat-film. Maybe LexCorp is attempting to do business with Wayne Enterprises. I’m just brainstorming here - I’m sure more creative “Easter Eggs” for the fans could be delivered by someone more talented than moi.

So there you have it. There is no need to see The Dark Knight standing atop THE DAILY PLANET‘s huge globe, nor do we need to see The Man of Steel zipping across the sky of Gotham. Let them stay where they belong, as I’m positive that there is plenty of crime and bad guys for each of these great characters in their own cities - and their own movies.

"Jett" is the creator and editor-in-chief of BATMAN ON FILM.

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