Now that the dust has settled on what has been a breathless week of praise, analysis, criticism, and controversy surrounding the release of The Dark Knight Rises, we can all take a deep breath and think about what it all means. But while you guys are doing that, we’d like to keep the convo going just a little while longer and talk reboot. Bruce Wayne’s personality disorder makes Warner Bros. too much money for the studio to just sit on the character for another eight years (the time between the franchise strangling Batman and Robin and Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins), so we’re thinking summer 2016 as a probable launch date for the next bat franchise (only 1,460 days left!). But what will the next Caped Crusader look like after Chris Nolan pushed the character to its brink? And more importantly, who the hell would dare play the Joker? Since we literally cannot stop thinking about Batman (Warner’s marketing machine, hear her roar!), here are eight suggestions for the future of Bruce Wayne and his big, bad bat.
John Blake inherits the cape and cowl.
By now we all know that TDKR ends with Bruce Wayne hanging up his cape in favour of sex n’ lattes, while Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s noble ex-cop John Blake inherits the bat cave and all of its wonderful toys. Was this a prelude to the next Batman film? No. Audiences would have a tough time buying into a Batman movie without Bruce Wayne as its central figure, but if Warner Bros. has any intention of extending Nolan’s take on The Dark Knight mythos, this might be their only option. Unless…
Batman is forced to come out of retirement to investigate the death of Selina Kyle.
The last time we saw Bruce, he seemed quite intent on playing out his days in the Mediterranean with his newfound love, Selina Kyle. But what if Kyle returned to Gotham for one last score and was mysteriously murdered? That’s the partial plot of Batman: Nine Lives, the 2002 graphic novel that sees The Dark Knight partner up with detective Dick Grayson (aka Robin) to find out who killed Catwoman. The film version would see Bale’s revenge-hungry Wayne teaming with JGL’s John Blake as they hunt a killer through a rain-soaked Gotham city. Think Se7en meets well, Batman.
Batman and Superman do battle, join forces.
Based on the teaser trailer for next summer’s Man of Steel, it looks like Warner Bros. might have another successful superhero reboot on its hands. At first we were surprised by the usually self-indulgent Zack Snyder’s pastoral, Malick-y take on Supes (keeping in mind that it’s just a twenty-second trailer), but a very prominent insert reminded us that the film is being produced by “Christopher Nolan, director of The Dark Knight Trilogy.” The Batman canon is chock-full of tales of the two DC cornerstones both joining forces and doing battle, most notably in Frank Miller’s masterpiece The Dark Knight Returns. Rumours of a Justice League movie in the wake The Avengers means that a future onscreen pairing of Superman and Batman isn’t just likely, it’s inevitable.
Bring back The Joker.
We can’t help but wonder what might have been, had Heath Ledger lived to see his thirtieth birthday. The Joker’s capture, not death, at the end of The Dark Knight led us to believe that Nolan at least wanted the option of including him in a third film. And why wouldn’t he? Ledger’s Oscar-winning performance was magnetic, and some could argue the trilogy’s apex. But would a third onscreen version of the Joker be one too many? Probably not, especially with the loads of source material to cull from, namely Alan Moore’s 1988 graphic novel The Killing Joke, which by most accounts is the seminal Joker origin story.
Take the origin story even further back.
Our major gripe with this summer’s The Amazing Spider-man was that Marc Webb’s take on Spidey’s origin story was rehashed from Sam Raimi’s version ten years earlier, making the reboot seem more like a repeat. That’s why if Warner Bros. were to hit the reset button on the Batman franchise, whoever inherits Nolan’s bullhorn will have to veer in a completely different direction in order to avoid constant comparisons to Batman Begins and its ensuing sequels. We suggest Batman: Gothic, Grant Morrison’s 1990 comic book that pits The Caped Crusader against a ruthless killer with ties to Bruce Wayne’s childhood. It may not be a traditional origin story, but the mere thought of a young Bruce Wayne playing tetherball with his schoolmates just warms our hearts.
Set the next film in the somewhat distant future.
Alan Moore’s Watchmen proved that aging superheroes struggling with existential ennui can be just as absorbing as watching them swing from rooftops. If there’s any masked vigilante best suited to follow in Nite Owl’s crotchety footsteps, it’s Mr. Identity Crisis himself. In Frank Miller’s aforementioned The Dark Knight Returns, a grizzled Bruce Wayne emerges from self-imposed exile for one final good-vs-evil romp through Gotham, a concept that may be hard for some fans to swallow, but that would continue Batman’s tradition of blazing the trail for superheroes on film. Also, bat-wheelchair anyone?
Base an entire film around Arkham Asylum.
The surprising success of the 2009 video game Batman: Arkham Asylum, and its follow up, Batman: Arkham City, is proof of the voracious appetite fans have for watching (and making) Batman punch, kick, and bodyslam his way through the rogues gallery of Gotham’s most notorious criminals. It’s also the storyline of Grant Morrison’s macabre, eponymous 1989 graphic novel, widely regarded as one of the most chilling Batman stories ever told. If the brass at Warner Bros. ever wanted to fully embrace the element of horror that runs through the entire Batman oeuvre, this is the way to go.
Get it over with and make Batman: Year One.
After Joel Schumacher and “nipplegate” ostensibly sunk the Batman movie franchise, most fans (and studio execs, apparently) felt that an adaptation of Frank Miller’s gritty tale of Bruce Wayne’s inaugural year as The Caped Crusader was the only way to return the character to its former glory. In 2000, Warner Bros. hired Darren Aronofsky to write and direct his version of the story, but the project never made it past initial stages of development and by 2002, it was abandoned altogether. Although Nolan eventually gave fans the hardcore version of Batman they’ve always dreamt of, most still harbour deep seeded fantasies of one day seeing the consensus greatest Batman story ever told, told on the big screen. Now’s as good a time as any.