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What’s Next for the Batman Film Franchise?

A few days ago I was visiting a site I often frequent (Comic Book Movie) when a contributor added a fan made concept poster for a Batman Beyond movie (FAN ART: Cool Poster For A BATMAN BEYOND Movie).  For those who don’t know, Batman Beyond was a an TV series developed by Warner Bros. in 1999 that depicted a teenager by the name of Terry McGinnis taking over the role as Batman with Bruce Wayne as his mentor.  Seeing this fan-made poster and being reminded of this show led me to ask the question:  What is next for the Batman?

Assuming that The Dark Knight Rises is the definitive end of our current Batman run and that Warner Bros. will want to continue milking it’s cash cow at the height of its popularity, there are only a few routes that are open to them.  I’m also assuming that Joseph Gordon Levitt is not playing Dick Grayson as some have hypothesized and that he is not being set up for a Nightwing spin-off (which at first mention sounds like a mistake).  With these restrictions in mind there are three basic routes one can take the character of the Batman.

The most obvious is to include the character in a Justice League movie.  Though Warner Bros. still has plans for a Justice League movie locked somewhere in a vault, I don’t believe that they are keen to start any time soon after their failed attempt a few years ago.  Also, with Man of Steel set to be released on June 14, 2013, I believe it would be a mistake to have two different incarnations of Superman being released at the same time (no Superman, no Justice League).   This is something Marvel has addressed and is doing well.  They knew that they wanted to make an Avengers movie, but they also knew that many of the Avengers could hold franchises of their own.  By creating a cinema universe for these characters to live in they are allowing the viewer to really immerse themselves in that world, similar to how a readers can immerse themselves in the worlds of comics and novels.  This does lead to my second point.  How likely DC and Warner Bros. are to make Justice League movie depends on the success of The Avengers.  Marvel is taking a gamble by having such a large ensemble movie with big name or rising stars.  If it fails, then don’t expect to see any large crossover films in the upcoming future.

The second option depends greatly on the story of The Dark Knight Rises.  Many have said that it will closely follow Frank Miller’s iconic The Dark Knight Returns.  If this is not the case, then it leaves the basic storyline from The Dark Knight Returns open for use.  One way to move beyond Christopher Nolan’s current Batman Universe is to leave it in the past.  By doing this we respect his movies but still move the character forward.  At this point the lead actors/actresses would all be recast to allow this movie to feel separate yet still a part of the Nolan universe.  When I think of a Batman movie where we need actors who need to be 20+ years older than those we currently have, I look back at those who owned those roles 20+ years ago.  How great would it be to see Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson reprise their roles from Tim Burton’s 1989 classic Batman?  Everyone believed Jon Hamm would have made a perfect Superman, yet he was believed to be too old to revitalize the franchise.  This would not be the case for a Dark Knight Returns movie.  We would also avoid the problem of having two versions of multiple characters in the same cinema universe because they would be separated only by time.  Unfortunately, with only two graphic novels in the series this is not a franchise starter.  The only way this movie would get off the ground would be by pure love and devotion.

Would he don the cowl one last time?

The final option is what lead me to write this article in the first place, and that is a movie based on the Batman Beyondseries.  Though this series would ultimately appeal to some of the younger demographics, I believe it is the least likely course of action due to the fact that it is not an overly well known series.  Of all the Batmen we have seen over the years and the options I’ve already mentioned this would be the most drastically different version.  To have an audience accept someone other than Bruce Wayne as Batman at a point where he is so popular would be a gamble to say the least.  Do you try and introduce a world with flying cars, mutated men, and a teenaged Batman with the realism of Christopher Nolan’s Batman universe fresh in our minds?  Though Michael Keaton could still be brought back to play Bruce Wayne, I think the answer is no.  We are simply not ready for that. Then, what is the way ahead for Batman?  At this point I believe it is prudent that we let him be for a little while.  Let Christopher Nolan’s Batman age in our minds with time, and when we are ready for a new Batman story then so will Batman.

J.

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