Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tuesday Talkback - What should (or shouldn't) we see in a Batman reboot?

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.


  1. Yeah, I think Tim Drake is your best bet from the various Robins...

    This is a tough one, because Nolan has actually covered a lot of angles in his take - mob bosses *and* super villains, nuclear weapons *and* petty crimes... But I think I'd reduce the scale of the story. Fewer characters, Batman as very much a loner, out on the rooftops painstakingly detecting and eliminating crime. The cops hostile to him, and peripheral to the story. I might even (and I never thought I'd say this) consider going down the Chandleresque film noir route and giving him voiceover.

  2. As another longtime Batman fan I too would like to see it's continuation. I like your idea of the Robin POV and I've always been disappointed with the screen versions of the Riddler. My POV take would be on Batgirl/Babara Gordon. Nolan gave us a strong Commisioner Gordon character, bringing his daughter into the mix could be a interesting subplot. I.m not sure that I'd cripple her though.

  3. A game plan. Marvel Studios have shown the way with their Avengers franchise so far - even if you get films that don't work so well (Iron Man 2), the overall effect still works if the big movies are successes. So with that in mind, I'd say build up a Batman franchise designed to spread out evenly across several points.

    I started writing a post then realised I could quite happily waffle about this all day, so I'll think of something more concise and post that later :)

    Agreed on Animated Series as a good benchmark for style and tone, though - capture that film noir, art deco visual aesthetic.

  4. I want to see Batman Beyond with Christian Bale as old Bruce.

  5. I'd like to see a reboot of Avatar. It's inevitable, so why fight it and wish for genuine creativity in studio films?

    You could make the Na'vi green. There's a fresh approach. And have them fight aliens AND predators! I haven't seen that before.

    1. I'm still waiting for the reboot of Casablanca and Shindler's List. The old versions are so last millennium. While we're at it, we need to remake The Godfather.
      (I detected sarcasm in your post, and hope you detect mine as well--truth is, I'm sick of remakes. What's been done well has been done well. Let's do something else)

    2. I'm still waiting for the reboot of Casablanca and Shindler's List. The old versions are so last millennium. While we're at it, we need to remake The Godfather.
      (I detected sarcasm in your post, and hope you detect mine as well--truth is, I'm sick of remakes. What's been done well has been done well. Let's do something else)

    3. Casablanca nazis vs. Godfather mafia!

      Versus aliens AND predators!

      Ridley Scott might direct, judging from his quality standard for Prometheus.

  6. My main desire for the reboot of Batman is a new costume. I'm sick of the body armor. I would love to see a Batman costume more like a ninja uniform. Also, take him back to his detective roots.

    I would say that Jason Todd would be Robin I'd prefer. Street kid. Smart and dangerous.

    Whatever they do, they can't tell the origin story again. Everyone knows how Batman became Batman. Just jump in and get moving.

  7. I know his storyline was among your least favorites in the movie, but I wouldn't mind seeing a movie about Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character, or a "Gotham without Batman" type story. Between him, Selina Kyle, and Jim Gordon, there are still some interesting folks... and to be honest, I found most of them to be more interesting than Bruce Wayne himself (oops).

    I would make a case for finally dusting off Bruce Wayne for TV, Smallville style, since you know I liked that script, but with Arrow coming up I don't think we need it anymore... "young rich guy puts on a costume and rights wrongs" is covered. For movies, aside from exploring that Nolan world some more, I don't know what a new Batman film could offer, though you know someone can and will try, sooner rather than later.

    1. Slight clarification: I liked JGL/Blake a lot, save for the bit of contrivance I mentioned yesterday.

      Somehow I get the sense that Warners would see going to TV as a step backwards, but probably nothing is entirely off the table at this point.

    2. It probably would be considered a step backwards, when movies are making that amount of money. I have no idea of the figures, but a successful TV show, I'd imagine, can be more profitable than a middling movie, right? (ie, Smallville vs. Superman Returns) But if the movies are making a lot... may as well stick with what works.

      Like I said, I don't know if there's as much of a need to get Bruce Wayne onto TV now that we have Arrow. And if Arrow bombs - I don't think it will, but "if" - that would definitely kill any chances of something like that happening.

  8. Do what the Avengers did, and do a Bat Family movie. Bring in Robin, Nightwing, Huntress, and Batman. If any of them catch on, spin'em off and make more money. We've seen the trials of Batman; now we can use him as a stock grouch for the other characters to bounce off.

  9. As a former comics collector (can't afford it) I'm tired of seeing origins over and over. I would love to see a series of batman movies done by big directors. Just stand Ali e stories. The Dark Knight Returns would be awesome. The Long Halloween, Hush, things like that.

  10. Hush would be a great villain to add to the mix. And obviously it seems weird Riddler was never in Nolan's version, considering how much psychology played a role in his films, but i guess that ground was covered with Scarecrow. Also, it'd be cool to see a non-ridiculous version of Mr. Freeze. Yes his power is supernatural, but in the comics he didn't come of as the cartoon that was the heinous Schumacher version.

    I think it'd be interesting to do an offshoot. REBOOT Catwoman (haha)... I'm only half kidding, because Anne Hatheway's Selina Kyle was awesome and it'd be really cool to see a GOOD version of her story told on screen. To that I think it'd be rad to do John Blake as Nightwing, rather than Robin, but i'm not sure if it's okay to bypass Robin and go straight to Nightwing.

    1. and by GOOD version, I mean NOT Halle Barry... man i can't believe that movie was made like that! Obviously, Michelle Pfeifer and Anne Hatheway's versions in the actual movies were great.

  11. This guy is happy he's not a screenwriter: http://hollywoodandswine.com/homeless-man-grateful-hes-not-a-screenwriter-after-reading-writers-guild-report-on-hollywoods-horrific-working-conditions/

  12. I know this is an old entry, but I’ve just been catching up on your blog.

    I’d really prefer they didn’t do a reboot and try out something else.

    But I’ll take a shot at what I’d do with Batman at this point.

    I’m with Mister Money and maybe a dash of Andrew’s responses.

    Batman in his 40s as the gruff general/Dad of the Bat Family.

    Nightwing, 22-25 y/o, possibly on leave from the Titans for this movie. Possible spinoff. Or possibly followed a lead down from Bludhaven that leads back to Gotham.

    Jason Todd dead (or at least seemingly so for this movie). Possible Red Hood as the 2nd movie. 17-20 y/o.

    Tim Drake as current Robin, relatively new, but still settled into the dynamic. 13- 15 y/o.

    Leaning towards Stephanie Brown Batgirl (13-15 y/o), but Cassandra Cain (17-20 y/o) has her benefits.

    I’d dig an Oracle (around 30 y/o) cameo with hints of Birds of Prey.

    Riddler as the villain is pretty cool. I’m thinking successful white collar criminal who’s a bit bored and/or possibly trying to get Batman fam to actually help one of his caper’s with his manipulations of events. Detective/chessmaster battle. Getting a Holmes vs. Moriarty thing but with less ire coming from Riddler. Possibly use Killer Croc as an enforcer. Possibly use Deadshot as a Colonel Moran (from Sherlock Holmes).

    Visually, I really dig Del Toro’s palette and chiaroscuro, but I think he’d be all wrong as writer/director. Maybe steal his DP.

    I am a huge kung fu fan, and the Bat Fam is perfect to kung fu it up. I’d like it to be Yuen Wo Ping, wire work, kung fu and parkour. Tim Burton had a nice gothic creep, but other weaknesses. Schumacher was just utter crap for me. Nolan’s was good, but so dark. I’d like a dash of lightness this time. It’s a family. I’d like their kung fu styles to reflect them.

    Bats is getting older, but he’s the biggest, strongest and smartest in the group. I’d emphasize economy of movement, although everyone gets the wire-work treatment. Introverted.

    Nightwing’s an acrobat and he has those two batons. This is where you put all the most acrobatic stunts. He likes the flashy moves, bit of a showman. Extroverted.

    Tim Drake with his extendable staff to help him being so young. Well trained, but a little nervous and inexperienced. Introverted.

    I’d have Stephanie Brown be half way between Tim Drake and Nightwing. More action and less planning. More of a risk taker. Extroverted.

    I’d have Cassandra Cain’s style half way between Nightwing and Batman. Acrobatic, yet methodical. Probably closer to the style Bats would have used when he was younger. Introverted.

    That was long winded.