At this point, the only thing more inevitable than death and taxes is the likelihood of seeing a Batman reboot sometime in the next decade. Christopher Nolan may have brought his saga to an end, but the Caped Crusader is simply too valuable a property for Warner Bros to leave on the shelf for long. Some kind of reboot is going to happen, and unlike virtually ever other rebooted series, the next film is going to be coming on the heels of a hit rather than an abject failure.
This presents a bit of a conundrum for the filmmaker eventually drafted for that task. How does one satisfy an audience that's still hungry for what Nolan brought to the series while also putting their own stamp on it? After the failure of the camp humor and tone in Batman & Robin, it was easy for WB to get behind a filmmaker who wanted to do something radically different. This time, the problem will be, how does one mess with success?
As a long time Batman fan, I find myself more interested in someone taking a different approach rather than trying to cast their own movie in a Nolan-type universe. As much as I liked that Bryan Singer's Superman Returns tried to tie itself to the Donner Superman, I don't want to see Nolan's successor take the same tactic. I don't want camp, either. Or the weirdness that defined Burton's turn at the helm.
Batman: The Animated Series is probably the best Bat-adaptation as far as capturing the spirit and depth of the comic without getting too gritty and realistic. There's a heightened reality there without giving in to the excesses of Burton and Schumacher. Emulating that might be the best way to satify Nolan fans without feeling like a retread of his saga.
What I don't want to see in a reboot is another long retelling of the origin. Batman Begins worked because Bruce Wayne's origin had never been told in such depth before. But why cover that ground again? I'd start the film with Batman already active in Gotham, maybe even active for a year or two. Maybe he's not chummy with the police, maybe some people even doubt he exists, but he's firmly established.
Second, I wouldn't use the Joker straight off the bat. It would be hard to surpass Mark Hamill, Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger. I'd probably use the Riddler, going off of comic writer Geoff Johns's notion that the Riddler is such an intellectual challenge that he's the logical villain to showcase Batman as a detective. (Obviously, I'd go for a more serious take than Jim Carrey or Frank Gorshin.)
Third - and this one is going to be controversial for some - I'd make one of main plots about the introduction of Tim Drake. For those not in the know, Tim was the third Robin in the comics continuity and was one of the few people to figure out that Bruce Wayne was Batman. He earned is place as Batman's partner (not sidekick) and, frankly, is one of my favorite characters in comics. I don't know if I'd make him Robin in the first film, but I'd like to see him as a POV character - show Gotham and Batman through his eyes to some extant.
So how about you? The odds of any of us being drafted for the job are pretty low, so we probably don't have anything to fear by tossing out our wishlists.
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