BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN: Why It Will & Won’t Work
For my readers that don’t know, (it’s possible!) San Diego Comic Con is the platform for ALL new TV, Movie and Comics industry buzz every year. This year’s Comic Con just ended, and the most interesting piece of news is the confirmation of a MAN OF STEEL Sequel announced for 2015. But what’s even more interesting is that it’ll be a Superman & Batman team up, apparently.
Personally, I feel that for DC Comics & Warner Brothers to go in this route after the success of MAN OF STEEL seems like a horrible idea for many reasons. However, after further thought, I’ve decided that there are benefits to this approach as well. In a weird turn of events, I’m both super freakin’ excited at the prospect of this movie, while also cynically cautious about the final result.
So, in an attempt to document a run down of both pros and cons, without seeming like a totally fickle and undecided psychopath, I will be playing Devil’s Advocate as to why a BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN movie WILL and WON’T work!
Why It Won’t Work
Considering Christopher Nolan’s Trilogy is over, and neither him nor actor Christian Bale will return for another installment, that universe can be considered unusable in a possible BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN movie.
I also don’t see a continuation of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES storyline with Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character donning the cowl beside Henry Cavill’s Superman, because that would significantly disturb the status quo of the world Zack Snyder has created.
If a Batman had been operating in Gotham for approximately 10 years, (Nolan-verse) the appearance of another Caped do-gooder in MAN OF STEEL would have drawn parallels to ‘that other guy in Gotham’. Also, another villain making a grandiose announcement to the world by promising death and destruction in MAN OF STEEL, wouldn’t have been surprising considering the events of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.
So for all intents and purposes this Batman would need to be a brand new character (and actor obviously) with brand new baggage and motivations.
Bringing us to…
After the awesome Trilogy, Christopher Nolan has cemented Batman into the minds and hearts of not only hardcore fans, but even general audiences who saw super hero films as fluff and for the enjoyment of teenagers.
So after only a year, (will be 3 years when BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN releases) since the character (and actor) have both retired, how accepting will audiences be of a brand new actor donning the cowl in an entirely new universe with a modified (I presume) backstory?
This Reboot also leads to other questions…
Superhero Buddy Cop Drama?
There is some confusion (at least for me) regarding how a Batman & Superman movie will play out. Will Batman be making an appearance into the universe established by MAN OF STEEL? Will he be introduced as a supporting character, to be fleshed out in his own solo franchise in the future? Or will he be a full-fledged character that the new movie will focus on, alongside Henry Cavill’s Superman? If so… how much focus on his origin can we expect?
Any which way they go seems like a daunting task. Considering this will be a brand new iteration of the Batman character they have to at least gloss over, if not give a comprehensive origin. It would be a little jarring to have a guy dressed as a Bat just show up talking in a gravelly voice, questioning Superman’s ‘kumbaya’ style good vibrations. Or hilarious!
Which begs the question, considering the writers behind Nolan’s Trilogy are also responsible for writing this movie: how can they successfully, with shorter screen time, re-tell an origin story for Batman, that won’t just be a re-hash of BATMAN BEGINS?
Safety in Numbers
Batman & Superman are considered the flagpole properties for DC Comics and their film franchises. So it seems like a risky move to put in both of their high profile characters in one movie, given the hoard of less well known characters that need to be introduced for a possible JLA movie to work, which is the ultimate in attempting to create a shared movie universe.
Wouldn’t the introduction of a Martian Manhunter (another Alien) in a Superman sequel be better suited for the long game, instead of a rebooted Batman that might confuse audiences?
What’s In A Name?
Least of all, the thing that bugs me is the Title. It seems like a gimmicky title, given that I doubt the entire movie will be a long drawn out fight sequence between Superman & Batman. (Batman would win!) More than likely, the two heroes will butt heads in the beginning, only to come together to fight a common threat. Similar to Captain America, Thor & Iron Man’s first meeting in THE AVENGERS.
So it seems very exploitative to title a MAN OF STEEL sequel something that would essentially be an early plot point. However, this has only been a ‘reported’ title, so I expect it will change, and it definitely should. The possibilities doing the rounds lately, is “World’s Finest”, which I approve of. “Crusaders” would work too.
Why it Will work
Going Against The Grain
Obviously DC Comics & Warner Brothers won’t follow the exact same model established by Marvel & Disney with THE AVENGERS. So as much as it might have made sense to do solo hero films first, leading into a Team Up movie such as Justice League of America… DC & WB want to try something new, and for good reason.
While the solo Avengers’ characters became household names in their own respective films, they were largely unknown prior to, with the exception of maybe The Hulk. Whereas everyone and their local grocer know about Superman & Batman.
So with the success of MAN OF STEEL, and an established Batman Trilogy behind them, it makes complete sense for DC to attempt a team up right away between these 2 characters, before investing any money to try to bring other lesser-known heroes into the spotlight with their own individual films.
Playing it Safe
A movie with both of DC’s flagship characters might also prove to be a safe testing grounds for a future JLA movie. Obviously in the proposed BATMAN VS SUPERMAN, there will come a time, probably after the 2nd act, when Superman & Batman will put aside their differences to take on a common threat. So it’s essentially what Marvel set up in THE AVENGERS with 5 solo movies, but on a smaller scale with only 1 movie before the team up.
It’s also a safer play for DC to secure a new Batman franchise. Attempting to merge a brand new version of the Batman character, played by a brand new actor, into the already successful Universe of MAN OF STEEL, may be less risky than trying to create a brand new Batman franchise from scratch, on the shoulders of a new actor and Director. Especially considering that after the Nolan-era, casting and introducing a new Batman to be featured in a JLA movie, has become more difficult than introducing new DC characters at this point.
Breaking New Ground
In MAN OF STEEL, Superman was still gaining traction with his powers, learning how to fight and trying to find his way in the world. Due to reasons I’ve stated above, a Batman in this Universe will be similarly new and untested. So if BATMAN VS SUPERMAN gives us early versions of both heroes, who end up working together going forward, it would be an entirely unique perspective to these heroes that, as far as I know, has never been done before.
Superman is always considered to be just, good and hyper moral, whereaas Batman is darker, more violent and walks the grey line between hero & anti-hero. Now, imagine Superman’s sense of morality and ethics being developed simply as a means of overcompensating for Batman’s lack of control and extreme measures when it comes to fighting crime?
Some complaints of MAN OF STEEL were that it was too dark, and Superman wasn’t as optimistic and hopeful as the character has come to be known over the decades.
Maybe Batman’s cynical and pessimistic personality influences Superman to become the hugs and rainbow personality guy we all know and love. Even Batman’s paranoid and unforgiving nature can be shown as being a result of Superman’s too trusting nature and his insistence on faith in his fellow man.
It would be a nice contrast to see both of these iconic heroes develop their personalities, not independent of each other, but because of each others’ influence.
Despite their yin-yang traits, Superman & Batman are relatively on opposite sides of the ideological spectrum. They have totally different approaches when it comes to conflict resolution, long term planning and most importantly, their outlook of the world. BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN can plant the seeds for this difference of philosophies to reach a peak in the ultimate Justice League movie. Especially if the JLA movie is set a years after MAN OF STEEL and its sequel, giving time for the other Solo hero films, and also giving us a more experienced Superman & Batman in Justice League. That time will allow for their differences to grow, set in, and reach a boiling point.
This tension between the two characters, and disparate frustration between them could even become a central focus of the Justice League movie. Superman & Batman’s differences have always been present in the background of some Justice League stories. But imagine the conversation where they disagree on how to deal with a mass murderer or a genocidal tyrant? Liberties can be taken with the origin of Kryptonite, having Batman be the first person to discover it, (or even synthesize it himself) as a means of preparation for going up against Superman, if the need were to arise.
A movie with Batman & Superman also gives opportunities to get into the mindset of Batman, that may not have been established before. Similar to how Snyder provided as an extreme glance into why Superman refuses to kill, maybe the sequel can give us a similar rationale for why Batman, despite his dark and borderline psychotic nature, follows the same code.
The announcement of a possible MAN OF STEEL sequel in the form of a Batman and Superman team up, has been very good news. Despite my cautious-ness, I’m going bat shit crazy (pun intended) in anticipation of this movie. However, I think it’s safe to say that if this proposed team up movie fails to deliver on expectations, at least commercially, it will effectively kill any chance of a future Justice League movie in the future.
Share your excitement & fears with me in the comments below. Let’s hold hands and be tense until 2015 together.