July 31, 2012

What's next for the Batman film franchise?

With Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy behind us, what's next for the franchise? There's lots of possibilities but only a few that we wouldn't mind seeing.

If you haven't seen The Dark Knight Rises, STOP READING NOW. 


Last chance. SPOILERS AHEAD.

It's fair to say that there isn't going to be a fourth installment in Nolan's Batman legend. We could talk all day about how an 'X' amount of money could change Nolan's mind, but the saga was without a doubt put to sleep with the ending set in The Dark Knight Rises. But with the current popularity of comic book movies and their almost guaranteed box office success, the heads at Warner Brothers would be completely crazy to put the Batman franchise itself to sleep.

Reboot, but don't retell!
Shaken, not stirred.

Although a reboot is obviously all but official, another origin movie isn't at all necessary. The legend of Batman and his beginnings have been told and retold so many times in the past 70 years on print and on film that its more or less general common knowledge. Yes, Batman's origin is an extremely important story to tell, but Bruce Wayne in the Batman franchise is similar to James Bond in the 007 franchise. The role of 007 has been passed down from actor to actor numerous times, but its the character and actions of 007 that audiences want to see. There's been as many actors portraying 007 as there have been actors playing Batman, but Bond's origins have only been retold and rebooted in the Daniel Craig era.

With this in mind, audiences don't necessarily need to be told why James Bond is Agent 007 and how he came to be, but just that he's damn good at what he does. Who wants to see a young Batman or even a rookie 007 anyway? Changing Batman's origin is also completely out of the question. Although it worked for Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man, Batman's origin is too concrete for even the subtlest of changes of the smallest details. 

The Justice League

Warner Brothers could also simply go straight to work on a Justice League movie. While the Marvel formula of initially releasing separate superhero films worked for The Avengers, the exact opposite could just in fact work for the Justice League. The characters of DC are so incredibly strong on their own that individual films aren't really necessary. While this could arguably be true for Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and the Hulk, SUPERMAN, BATMAN, and WONDER WOMAN are hands down much more recognizable "household" names. 

Honestly now, did John or Jane Moviegoer really know who the Avengers were before Iron Man was released? Hawkeye and Black Widow were virtual unknowns in pop culture but are now suddenly capable of starring in their own spin-off sequels. Going back to the James Bond analogy - audiences mostly care of what these characters are capable of, not necessarily where they came from. 

John Blake?

John Blake rhymes with Tim Drake. :)
This next idea is definitely a bit more far-fetched (and I actually hope it doesn't happen) but there's also the possibility of Joseph Gordon-Levitt returning as John Blake in a new movie or even an all-new trilogy. At the end of TDKR, Officer Blake's full name was revealed to be Robin John Blake, a somewhat tongue-in-cheek nod to his heroics throughout TDKR. After Batman saves Gotham City (again) and leaves for good, the film finishes with an open ending, as "Robin" finds the hidden entrance to the Batcave and the credits roll. Blake's back story was also a mixed bag of past comic book Robins; he was orphaned at an early age and discovered the true identity of Batman as a boy when he first met Bruce Wayne. A new Robin/Nightwing movie would be a step in a different but welcome direction, but having John Blake return as the new Batman would be too risky and probably ruin any chance for a potential Justice League movie. BRUCE WAYNE is Batman, just as much as CLARK KENT is Superman. If John Blake were to return, a Nightwing movie would be more appropriate.

Still not crazy about the costume.
Man of Steel

Man of Steel is set to hit theaters in 2013, and is probably Warner Brothers best bet to boost excitement for a possible Justice League movie and/or reboot the Batman franchise. With Green Lantern fully establishing the character of Hal Jordan and Nolan's Batman trilogy "out of the way", Man of Steel is a clean slate for a new DC cinematic universe. A well-placed cameo from Ryan Reynolds or mere mention of Batman's existence in the film (think post-credits a la The Avengers franchise) is all Warner Brothers needs to get the production wheels turning. It's safe to say they more than likely have something planned, so for now we'll just have to wait and see.

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