After earlier reports and rumours it is now official that Warner Brothers will be going into production soon on the first of the modern DC Comic team-up movies. The first of these films will feature Superman and Batman together onscreen for the first time. This film has been hinted at for years, and most thought that it would never, could never or that it should never happen. And it when it was rumoured to happen after Batman & Robin, I would have agreed with them.
In 2013, things are a lot different. This World’s Finest film, likely titled Superman vs Batman, will be released in 2015. Man Of Steel director Zack Snyder will reunite with writer David S. Goyer, and maybe even producer Christopher Nolan for this ambitious film. Henry Cavill will return as Superman, but with Christian Bale not wearing the cowl again a new Batman will need to be found.
So, who will play The Dark Knight going forward, and I assume all the way to the Justice League film of 2017? This is a great question, for a while now there have been a copious amount of articles about this very topic. However, all discount the fact that this new Batman will be of the JLA/World’s Finest etc. He is not the dark loner, he is not the super serious ninja and is not the Batman of the Nolanverse. Instead he is an amazing detective, he creates things for the JLA to use and he is their most valuable asset. In summary, his role is something that will be different from every other live action film adaptation of Batman so far. That is a fact that may even upset some people when they see it.
And so a very different actor will be needed to play this role. Kevin Conroy nailed this portrayal of Batman in Batman: The Animated Series and its wider universe. Batman is everything you’ve seen before and can duke it out with the best of them when he is alone, but when he is with the JLA there is are subtle differences. These all boil down to the question: why would literally gods need a rich man’s help? In the JLA, Bruce Wayne has everything figured out before everyone else. Wayne has files on each JLA member’s weakness, he works constantly on upgrading various equipment and strategies and so on. Bruce Wayne makes can himself the most valuable member of the team.
However, to portray that Conroy understood that this Batman is lighter and must embrace the nature of a team-up. Batman cannot be alone, his sulkiness is mocked from time to time and a team brings a out new dimension to the character. In very much the same way that Robin alters the character. If you hate Robin, you will hate the JLA!
The danger with this film is that the Nolanverse misses the lighter side of Batman completely and goes ultra dark very fast. There is no need for ber- reality from this point on, and the universe of the New-52 is a good guide how to cast these films. They need to leave the door open for a Robin, for a Nightwing and even for Ace. Why? Because this film will change how people interact with Batman on screen; there will be no smoke vanishing nor one liners on a rooftop. This film requires character development to both Clark and Bruce. The more people that interact with both will only strengthen the bonds and investment that an audience will feel towards them.
This is the advantage of Christian Bale stepping down as the Caped Crusader. Overall, I loved his portrayal of the character and The Dark Knight Trilogy arguably contains the definitive Batman movie, The Dark Knight. This will be the benchmark for comic book movies for years to come. It cannot be debated that Bale did an outstanding job portraying both Batman and Bruce Wayne in the hyper-reality of the Nolanverse. However, moving away from this towards the unrealism of the JLA, a change is needed and needed badly. Bale’s portrayal of Batman cannot fit in a world in which Superman exists also, they would never work together. Superman would be another super villain like The Joker, Bane etc. The logic of Nolan’s Batman universe would see a metahuman with godlike powers as too dangerous to exist. There is no grey area in these films.
(The comics have explored this idea before…The Kingdom Come story arc pits an old Bruce Wayne against Superman. He tasks Shazam to defeat Superman. And on Earth 3, there was an evil Superman called Ultraman.)
Whoever is to follow on from Bale will have to capture the ethos of the JLA ideal; he will have to walk the line between serious a Batman and a Batman that is a team player who is not afraid to embrace humour, very much like the mood of The Avengers. I believe that man to be Karl Urban. And he has some serious geek credentials after having had roles in RED, Star Trek and Dredd 3D. In each of these roles he walked the line between serious and humour, his portrayal of Bones kind of speaks for itself. I want to draw attention to his portrayal of Dredd in Dredd 3D.
Dredd is a very similar character to Batman, although with the volume turned way up, and is very easy to turn into a joke. Urban understood that grit works, but too much grit is abrasive and off putting. Dredd was made likeable, and so rewriting the wrongs of Judge Dredd, or the 2000 AD franchise killer. Urban has proven that he can play this very tough role: he has the intensity to play Batman, along with a good look made for the cowl and a voice that is very close to the Conroy take on Batman. The important this we are not given a deadpan Bale Batman. Rather like Urban’s Dredd, this Batman needs moments of light-heartedness, inasmuch as Dredd/Batman can be light-hearted.
Come on just imagine his Judge Dredd with a Batman costume on instead. Karl Urban is a perfect fit for this role and he would no doubt leave a new stamp on this character of a lifetime. I must stress that whoever is to play Batman in these next few movies must have the talent to play the multi-dimensional character of comic book Wayne/Batman. Team-ups need a distinct character to hinge upon, it is the only way that these movies will work. Marvel learned this lesson with their casting choices: Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark is the best example of this. Marvel embraced the source material and cast based on the established comic book character for their team up series. Whoever they do decide to go with will be the lynchpin of this franchise’s success.
I know who I would choose, what about you? Let me know in the comments below, who would you like to see as Batman?
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