Friday, August 3, 2012

What The Next Batman Movie Should Be Like

Hi everyone! Did you miss me last week? I was busy climbing in the mountains in Tennessee, but I've returned to my home in Florida and I'm raring to share my words with the world. No reason to delay it, let's dive into today's subject!

The Dark Knight Trilogy is over. Christopher Nolan’s take on Batman is finished and has made millions across the world. While certain directors have gone back on their word about being done with franchises *coughmichaelbaycough*, I think it’s safe to assume that Nolan truly is done with Batman. I also think it’s safe to assume that Warner Bros and DC want more money, and thus they’ll at some point make another Batman movie. They will most likely start fresh with a new Batman series. They’ll change the cast, the crew, the characters, and completely ignore Nolan’s trilogy, as they should since The Dark Knight Rises was a good conclusion to Nolan’s story. Since everyone’s still in a Batman mood, let’s talk about what the movie could be about, and more specifically, what I want to see in a new Batman movie.

What will follow is not a summary for a Batman story I wrote, it is simply a list of suggestions that I hope Warner Bros and DC takes note of. I’m also not listing possible actors to portray Batman and his supporting cast, since anyone with the right direction and looks could potentially pull it off. We were surprised when Heath Ledger and Anne Hathaway played a fantastic Joker and Catwoman respectively, so our first picks aren’t necessarily the best. I will, however, list my picks for director and writer at the bottom, even if they are unlikely. I am allowed to dream a little.

With that said, here’s what I think the next Batman movie should be like!

Lighten up:

After Batman & Robin bombed, Warner Bros clearly didn’t want to remind anyone of it when producing their new Batman movie. They made as dark, gritty, and far from campy as they could. Critics have praised The Dark Knight trilogy for being a “realistic” superhero movie, and while it deserves its accolades, I have an issue with the precedent that it set. The Amazing Spider-Man felt like it was trying to emulate Batman Begins and ended up being a dull mess of a movie, and Man of Steel might go down that route if early plot summaries and the teasers are to be believed. Marvel Studios thankfully avoided going down this route when making their Avengers movies by sticking to their colorful sci-fi and fantasy roots, but The Dark Knight removes most of the comic book elements from the formula, instead just keeping the core of Batman’s character and a few gadgets and scenarios that could be plausible. Less is sometimes more, but Batman’s been known to tangle with crocodile men, immortals, mud monsters, and even vampires. Seeing him fight terrorists for three movies straight gets a little tiresome, so let’s change that. Let’s bring Batman back into the world of comic books and properly mix that with film again, and while we’re at it, let’s shed a little light as well.

That’s right, I actually want some of the camp to return. Let me explain. During the 80’s, Frank Miller wrote one of the most important Batman stories of all time, The Dark Knight Returns. In a generation that still thought Adam West was Batman, this was a turning point. It was darker, grittier, more violent, and extremely well-told. Alan Moore also wrote The Killing Joke, a story that cripples Barbara Gordon for life and nearly brings Jim Gordon to murder. Dark would become the tone Batman comics would use from that point, and every other comic followed suit. That all led to the Dark Age of comics, for better or for worse. However, fans who grew up but were mocked for liking superhero comics started using the dark and gritty tone to justify their like of the books, which led to many comic book fans disdaining the old colorful ways. This is why when Joel Schumacher made his Batman movies, comic book fans cried foul. Note that Joel Schumacher’s films are bad, but they’re bad because they’re bad movies, not complete betrayals of Batman’s character. The camp wasn’t the main issue, as it had been done back in the 60’s, albeit much better then. If you want someone smarter than me to help explain this, go check out MovieBob’s videoon Batman & Robin. I’d also recommend watching Joshua the Anarchist’s Defense of Joel Schumacher, which also explains the difficulties fans have with a lighter Batman and why they’re overblown.

Very recently, another attempt at introducing campy comic book fun back into Batman was aired on TV. Fans once again complained when heard of this, but to everyone’s surprise, it ended up being a phenomenal love letter to the Silver Age of DC comics, where Rainbow Batmen and outrageousness were accepted. That show was Batman the Brave and the Bold, and I’ll say it right now, I want a Batman the Brave and the Bold movie. Not a cartoon movie, mind you, but a Batman movie where science fiction, fantasy, and yes, even a little camp are allowed. You can have some moody darkness thrown in as well. Even Brave and the Bold had dark episodes such as “Chill of the Night”. But after three movies of gritty reality, I think we need a change. Speaking of getting lighter…

You need to be more flexible:

One problem has persisted throughout the Batman movies ever since the Tim Burton era: Batman’s costume is too bulky and limiting. Instead of wearing spandex or something that would allow Batman to be nimble and acrobatic, Batman’s been confined to limiting rubber suits. The man was trained by ninjas in Batman Begins, and yet he couldn’t even turn his neck until The Dark Knight, and even then he staggered around whenever punching people. It’s almost embarrassing to see a skilled fighter and acrobat such as Batman limited like this. The Adam West costume was a little silly, but he could at least jump around and move freely. Hopefully the next movie will give him a costume that lets Batman actually move around like a ninja in the night.

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad DC World:

Okay, this should be obvious given the success of the Avengers movie, but Warner Bros needs to bring a shared DC universe to the big screen if they want to compete. Nolan’s Batman exists in universe where no one has powers and there are no other superheroes, so the likelihood of that Batman joining a Justice League is nil. A new Batman universe where his superpowered foes and allies exist would help ease Batman into a Justice League movie.
You need to be more flexible.


Poison Ivy and Mr. Freeze were not given the best treatment in Batman & Robin. The Dark Knight Rises made up for their version of Bane by remembering that Bane is supposed to a mastermind mercenary instead of a dumb brute, so I think those two villains are due for some redemption as well. However, I would not pick them for the first new film, and I’m working under the assumption that Warner Bros wants to make several more Batman films for obvious reasons. Maybe one of them could be in the first film, but not both at the same time to avoid too many Batman and Robin flashbacks.

Some villains have never been seen in live action before, and considering the size of Batman’s rogue gallery, that’s a damn shame. Two villains I would love to see get the big screen treatment are Clayface and the Mad Hatter. Specifically, I want the version of Clayface that was a washed-up horror movie actor. His backstory is actually rather sad and dark, involving him taking revenge on the cast and crew of a horror movie he worked on. I know I called for more fun and light-heartedness, but I still think there should be some dark drama thrown into balance the movie. The difficulty with Clayface is that he’s completely made of mud and can take on the appearance of anyone. He would have to be made from CG, but in this day and age, it would be doable. Spider-Man 3 did a great job with the portrayal of Sandman’s shifting sand over five years ago, so there’s no excuse for not trying.

The Mad Hatter was a lonely man with an obsession with Alice in the Wonderland and hats. He ended up going on a crime spree when he invented hats that let him control the minds of others simply by placing them on their heads. He’s yet another example of a villain who wouldn’t work in a Nolan movie but would be right at home in a movie that allows for science fiction and the slightly absurd. Like Clayface, his backstory is sympathetic and the idea of Mad Hatter’s mind control hats is actually very sinister and scary when you think about it, so I think he would be an acceptable if not interesting villain to see on the big screen. Actually, the perpetual outcast nature of Mad Hatter and Clayface could make for an interesting villain team-up.

The Head Honchos:

You know who used to direct great superhero movies back in the day? Brad Bird. Not only did he direct The Iron Giant, which used Superman as an important theme, he also directed The Incredibles, one of the greatest superhero movies of all time. I’m not kidding. Both of these movies have the right balance of fun and dark drama that I want from a Batman movie, and they’re both about superheroes. They’re both animated movies, but Brad Bird has proven he could direct live action recently with Mission Impossible 4. Plus, I just love the man’s work and want to see more from him.

As for writers, you can’t go wrong with Paul Dini. The man’s been writing Batman comics and cartoons for most of his career and he has a strong grasp on the character and universe of Batman, and yet he’s never been involved with the live action movies. He’s written both dark and light-hearted Batman stories and understands that balance. Notable Batman stories include Mad Love and Chill of the Night.

Oh, one more thing before I end this list. No Christian Bale Batman voice! For the love of gods, it was stupid in Nolan’s movies, and it’d be stupid in a new movie. There’s a reason it’s been parodied to death.

That's all for this week. Next week I should be returning to my typical review format. What will I be reviewing? Stay tuned. 

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