THE PERFECT BATMAN MOVIE ?
Not a day goes by without a news story of some sort from the latest Batman movie. First Ben Affleck steps down as director. Then it is reported he may soon step down from the role too. Matt Reeves is hired as director with a massive budget. You can’t help but feel as if this movie is destined to fail. Batman has been around in comics, TV and film for a long time now, yet there are still more stories to tell. Nine times out of ten no matter the actors, writers or director they will still tell a good story.
When Chris Nolan’s critically acclaimed Batman trilogy came to an end in 2012 it was suggested out of respect the Dark Knight would be given a silver screen sabbatical. Less than a year later it was announced he would appear in the Man of Steel sequel! The second building block in DC cinematic universe! The world of a cinematic franchise brings in the big bucks. But in Batmans case I think it brings a load of problems too. With movie franchises/ shared universes each scene in on particular movie is like a brush stroke for a grand canvas. Once applied a brush stroke may not resemble much for movies/years. A fleeting glimpse of a Robin costume in BVS opens up a load of potential and questions. Potential and questions that go beyond Robin. Firstly which Robin did it belong too? How many Robins has Affleck’s older Batman had? Questions which have been muddied by the recent news of a Nightwing solo movie. You would have to assume this would be Dick Grayson. But has Dick ever been Robin in the DCEU? It also affects the future of the Joker. The plot point was briefly touched upon in Suicide Squad after all.
A popular trend in Hollywood is to assemble a writers rooms for movie franchises. Rumour suggests the script for The Batman are of a very high standard. The script was worked on by Affleck, his often collaborator Chris Terrio and DC comics supremo Geoff Johns. Moving forwards they would make any list for a potential writers room if Affleck remains on board. I am going to play devils advocate now and create my own writers room for a self contained Batman franchise. Geoff Johns remains for obvious reasons. He is well liked and respected by the comics community and he has shown a good handle of Batman in his recent Earth Two series. He is a strong link in creating synergy between the comics and the DCEU. Staying with comics why not bring in current scribe Scott Snyder? To me it seems like a logical move. The reason I have chosen him over others is two fold. Snyder has been writing Batman for a long time now. Admittedly he can divide opinion with his ideas and particularly length of story arcs. But when you consider how long Batman has been around he continues to deliver fresh takes and twists on the Caped Crusader. I only have to mention the Court of Owls as a strong addition to Batmans already packed rogues gallery to make my point.
Whilst adding Scott Snyder I did consider and reject his collaborator Greg Capullo. Only for the reason that visually there are things that work in comics that don’t work in movies. Lets just call it a open option. To contrast with the comics input I would add Greg Berlanti to the mix. The Arrowverse has been a runaway success for the CW. Picking just one member to join my fictional writing room was a tough task. It was simply because out of the four shows Arrow is my favourite and the closest to Batman. What makes Arrow a good watch is that it isn’t afraid to be its own thing. Rarely if ever have they done adaptations of comic book story arcs. This is a good skill to have in your armoury when putting together a movie franchise. It makes things more accessible to newcomers. Over the course of five seasons Berlanti has contributed to compelling story arcs for the lone vigilante and his alter ego whilst adding in a successful team dynamic. All aspects that would prove useful in shaping Batman stories. My last choice is the most obvious choice in the history of Batman! How has it not already happened? Ladies and gentlemen my final choice is none other than Paul Dini. Like Berlanti on Arrow Dini was just one of a number of brilliantly creative minds when he worked on Batman The Animated Series. His work also on Batman comics gives him the edge and a wider understanding of Gotham City and its inhabitants. He has a strong feel for getting into the villains inner workings. This will prove very useful when you consider comic book movies always seem to receive negative reviews for 2D villains. On a film by film basis and depending on the director other writers could rotate into the writers room.
Kevin Smith recently suggested DC/Warner should be releasing Batman movies every year. I wouldn’t go that far but I believe the character would benefit more from a James Bond style blueprint. A movie released every two to three years with very loose connecting tissue. Batman has a big enough cast of supporting characters that they can drop in and out as and when needed. Batman covers more genres than just crime and has enough villains that the franchise wouldn’t burn out quickly. Again borrowing from the Bond franchise if an actor leaves a role you don’t need to reboot. We are all tired of seeing the death of the Waynes. If we are given an origin movie with every change of actor the next film just feels like part two and so on. Audiences are smart enough not to need origins anymore. We just want compelling well told stories. Then again depending on the villain audiences can view the movie as a crime caper, sci-fi and so on. I think it is best for the studio to stay away from out and out adaptations of classic story lines from the comics. It never pleases everyone and can alienate a newer audience. Now there might one glaring obstacle in having Batman as his own franchise. Just a little obstacle called The Justice League! Yes he is a key member and will be part of the first film.
Writers and directors could easily fall into the trap though of having to come up with a kick ass Batman scene to make him stand out as the only human. It worked in BVS with the warehouse scene but audiences without comic book knowledge may get bored and not understand his place in the team. I suggest doing something akin to Tower of Babel for the second JLA film and then take Batman out of the equation for a while. The JLA cast can rotate its roster easily. Getting back to the villains they can in a way depict the choice of director. Whilst Suicide Squad had its problems David Ayer gave us a very fresh take on the Joker. With some building blocks already in place it would make sense to have Jared Leto return to face of if Affleck sticks around. Perhaps in that movie we would also get some answers to the Robin questions. After recently watching Creed I am in no doubt Ryan Coogler would tell a story centring around the tutoring of Robin. Perhaps a second Robin with flashbacks to the first and setting up Nightwing all in one brilliant swoop of the artists brush. While I agree Deathstroke is long overdue and gives us something different in a Batman movie villain, I do question whether Matt Reeves is the right director just based on his prior films.
How about Steve DeKnight as a contender? Admittedly he is more known for his writing and producing it would be a bold move. Just look at the series 1 finale to Daredevil on Netflix to see the potential. He can certainly shoot realistic hand to hand combat. As I write this Logan continues to rake in the money at the box office. Its director James Mangold has embraced the comic book genre with gusto. He has shown a great ability to craft a lone heroes journey but if you go back to Copland he can also do ensemble pieces. Every time a cop appears in a Batman film I’m screaming for them to be given a name from the comics! Mangold could certainly give us a Batman story with a Gotham Central vibe. Sticking with crime would it be out of the question to consider Martin Scorsese? Again without being an out and out re telling he could certainly do something similar in tone to The Long Halloween. Also in Taxi Driver he shoots New York like it is one of the main characters. Very useful when you consider how important Gotham City is to a good Batman story. Last but by no means least George Miller has to be a name on the list going forward. His age certainly shouldn’t count against him. What might do though is his preference to shoot on location with realistic stunt work. If you think somewhere would have to double for Gotham it maybe a logistical nightmare filming on location. However if you think about what you need for a Batman film he becomes an realistic option again. Just think you need a big sets for the Bat cave, the villains lair, somewhere for a act two showdown and somewhere for the finale showdown. Everything else like police stations and alleys can be done on sight.
Theres plenty to think about here and with Batman movies moving forward. I hope Affleck sticks around for a trilogy he is a brilliant Batman. I want to see different villains and Robin on the big screen again. What we want and what we get are two different things but I’ll go and watch a Batman movie regardless, so maybe all this is obsolete?
About Ian Wells
Ian currently runs the THEBLOGOFCOMICSHOTTOPICS blog. Check him out on Twitter @IanWells87.
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