An Unstoppable Force Meets an Immovable Object: Thoughts on a Batman/Superman Film

This weekend in San Diego, the Super Bowl of geeks AKA Comic-Con took place. Through the years this event has become less about cosplayers and basement-dwellers and more about Hollywood teasing future products. The latest of these teases occurred at the Warner Bros. panel, where “Man of Steel” director Zack Snyder revealed that his film’s sequel will also feature the Caped Crusader. This presents amazing possibilities as well as major challenges. Let’s talk about the cool stuff before I become Negative Nancy.

This is DC’s best possible response to Marvel’s Avengers

Although the idea of a Justice League movie would be absolutely incredible (and probably still happening), Batman and Superman teaming up is the perfect short-term response DC could have had. A 5-year-plan for Justice League similar to what Marvel did in Phase One sounds both too simple and too lazy, not to mention it would essentially be DC admitting that Marvel caught them with their pants down. Instead of spending time on a B-level character getting their own film, DC and Warner Bros. are throwing their 2 heavy hitters into the same film. This way they can test the waters without losing another $100 million on an awful Green Lantern film.

History is on the film’s side

What I mean here is that there is a long history of these 2 characters meeting up to take down villains like Lex Luthor and Darkseid. There is also a strong chance at success at the box office. The Batman films directed by Christopher Nolan combined for nearly $2.5 billion and Snyder’s “Man of Steel” has pulled in close to $650 million on its own. Combining these two characters would easily challenge the domestic all-time leader, “Avatar”, at $760 million.

Batman didn’t need a reboot

I’ve heard a few people say that they would have preferred a Batman reboot to this joint adventure. Really? Tim Burton’s original film was made in 1989. In 23 years, Batman had 7 films under 3 directors. You could make the case that we haven’t seen every possible origin story he has, but do we really need to see his parents die a 4th time in a quarter-century? This is another reason why these 2 characters teaming up now is a better idea than adding 3 B-listers down the road. We know these characters. Anyway, there will probably be a little bit of reinvention for Bats because a new actor is wearing the cowl. Stop crying.

Now let’s talk about some of the challenges this film will face.

Make the conflict between the heroes a small part of the film

These are 2 very different heroes with different belief systems and fighting capabilities. It would be nonsense to believe they could just team up without ever getting in each other’s way. This film should be about more than their conflict, though. If they try the “Spider-Man 3” approach where they just team up at the very end to fight the main villain, the film has been wasted. Also, “The Avengers” already focused a good portion of their film to conflict between heroes (as they should have considering they were working with several different heroes) so let’s try something a little different here.

Making the realistic tone work

Although Superman and Batman joining forces has happened many times in the history of comics, the heroes are usually not bound by the real-world approach that both “Man of Steel” and the Dark Knight trilogy incorporated into their stories. If you look at Batman and Superman through that lens, there is a serious imbalance of power. Though Superman doesn’t change much, Batman becomes a much less formidable vigilante. Even if the film tries to steer closer to the realm of fantasy, there will be an entire generation of people who will cry out over inconsistency or say that it’s too hard to swallow. I believe this to be the film’s biggest challenge because we are no longer talking about Batman in crime films, but superhero Batman fighting villains from other worlds.

These are just a few thoughts I’ve had since hearing about the Superman/Batman film on Saturday. I’m sure there are other points to make, so feel free to comment below. Happy viewing.


44 thoughts on “An Unstoppable Force Meets an Immovable Object: Thoughts on a Batman/Superman Film

  1. It’ll be interesting to see this play out – Batman’s intelligence vs. Superman’s strength. Batman brings out the edge in Superman, making both more interesting heroes. Also, it sounds like a lot of fun.

    • Definitely. It would be easy for them to sloppily make this and expect it to do well just because of who the characters are, but there is an amazing amount of potential. Hoping for the best.

  2. You bring up some good points. However I still have problems with the whole idea. If there is conflict between the two heroes, it probably won’t be enough for me, and how can Batman, who uses gadgets and planes and cars, compete or fight alongside Superman without looking stupid or gaining superpowers himself?

    • That’s totally understandable. Like I was saying with the realistic tone, this is something to worry about. I think there are ways to write around the problem, though. The main thing will be giving each character enough to do without creating an imbalance of usefulness.

      Bruce Wayne/Batman is a captain of industry. He can create all kinds of weaponry and technology. Although he is mortal, he can still get plenty accomplished on his own. It really depends on the writing for the film.

      • Perhaps Luthor Industries and Wayne Enterprises go toe to toe, and Batman and Superman both find some of the things Luthor is doing suspicious. That could be a basis for the film, and would give Wayne plenty of screen-time being useful.

      • I’ve heard this idea shopped around on IMDB and I like it a lot. It makes perfect sense that those two companies would be part of A) the rebuilding process for Metropolis and B) the government creating new weapons to fight future alien invasions.

      • But if Batman is in this movie, will it be connected to the Nolan trilogy? If it is, they’d have to explain how Bruce Wayne comes back to life.
        Maybe Joseph Gordon-Levitt could fix that somehow.

      • No, I don’t believe anyone has said that officially. I think it’s best to just let Nolan’s films exist on their own. Trying to connect them at this point would be awfully hard.

      • Very true. I think they should have a primary villain from Superman with a secondary villain from Batman. For example, Lex Luthor and Black Mask/Dead Shot/etc.

      • What about Red Claw from the animated series? She was one badass terrorist, and since in her first appearance she used a corporation for her purposes, she could use Luthor and vice versa.

      • I’d be okay with something like that. Terrorists would give Batman someone to take down while Superman stops something a little higher up in the food chain.

  3. The problem with comic heroes is that they have comic bad guys. Lex Luthor, a thinking man bad guy. To me he came across as a comedian relief guy. The true evil people are serial killers.. To my knowledge no super hero has tackled that problem. The really bad guys are the owners of slave factories who have workers making $2 an hour in conditions which are deplorable. You do not see Superman rescuing them. Batman does not solve the tsunami that killed thousands. Was Superman taking a nap while this happened. Does Superman go from one bad accident to another, twenty four hours a day, day after day. What kind of life is that. Batman can die of old age, what about Superman? If Superman does not age and they are both fighting crime can we picture Superman flying next to his buddy Batman in a wheelchair at the age of ninety. I never see the comics tackling that problem.

    • I think superheroes have tackled real world problems like you’re mentioning before, but there is a lot more time given to villains like Luthor or the Riddler, etc. (Despite being cartoony, I think the Joker kinda fits into most descriptions of a serial killer) Part of that is that we probably wouldn’t want to read about something that close to home all the time. As is the case with any form of media or entertainment, making criminals a little flashier makes for a better story/picture. If every villain were some sweaty pervert in an alley, the appeal for superheroes would evaporate.

      I certainly hear where you’re coming from, but I think there are probably different comics tackling the kinds of issues you are describing.

      As for Batman’s old age, that is something addressed in some of the comics and in the animated show Batman Beyond. There is a sense of timelessness for many of these heroes. New writers pick up a character and they want to reinvent him their own way instead of just following a normal human’s life expectancy. It’s just how comics go.

  4. Let’s hope they don’t ruin it like they did IronMan3(the Mandarin was an insult to the history of Iron Man, and the fans). Batman Returns 2(Animation) is what they have to exceed if they intend to create a conflict between those two – say what you want, but we know Batman always has a solution hidden in his cape. Clark is surely in for some tough love, if they get it right, and they’ve shown they can get it right with the superman reboot. Fingers crossed.

  5. Amazing idea, though I agree it will be hard or Batman to shine as brightly as Superman when placed side by side. I wonder what villian could be used effectively for the both of thm, without falling back on the Lex Luthor storyline we’ve all seen time and time again.

    • Sadly I think Luthor is the best choice. He can be Batman’s business rival on top of Supes’ villain. The bigger villains of Superman’s universe (Darkseid, etc.) probably need to be saved for the eventual Justice League film.

      • As much as the little kid, who grew up on DC and the Superfriends, is dying to see a JL movie. The adult fan in me is dreading it. I don’t know if I could take another debacle based solely on special effects, like Green Lantern.

  6. On your point of Batman rebooted for this movie, I can agree to that. On the other hand why use any one Batman? I think that the entity of Batman can stand on its own, anyone and everyone who will see this will know who he is and what is about. As for the Nolan Batman universe it is likely that it is a Superman/JLA free universe. Why? Because neither Superman nor the JLA would stand by while Gotham is held hostage and Batman is not in sight.
    I have wanted to see this pair in live action for some time but now that it is going to happen I am filled with anxiety. There is so much room for mistakes, but if they get it right they could really make DC shine on the screen again.

    • Right, I agree that Nolan’s films do not connect here at all. It would be ridiculous to hold WB and DC to that after the films were already made as standalones.

      If you are saying that Batman doesn’t have to be Bruce Wayne, I think that’d be one of the biggest mistakes of any comic book film ever.However if you’re just saying that Batman doesn’t have to be Nolan’s Batman I totally agree.

      This isn’t much of a gamble financially, but creatively it could be life or death for future DC films.

      • I definitely mean that it should not have to be Nolan’s Batman. I think that Bruce and Clark interaction will be a must in the film. I guess I am afraid of more back story that is not needed.
        I really hope they pull this off since I would like to see more DC films. If this fails we may have to depend on stuff like the next generation Smallville and settle for the small screen to get a DC live action fix.

  7. I hope the movie is good and am interested in seeing what villain they use or if it will be a team-up of villains in order to get them to work together.
    I am hoping they leave the excessively dark tone behind, though.

    • If it is a team-up of villains, I hope they use one big guy and a couple of smaller villains. No sense in wasting all the good villains now.

  8. Seeing a live action batman superman film is very interesting because there is a batman superman comic book that pretty much got fans interested. Besides, the reason why batman is way too cool is because even though he is just an ordinary human, he can at least fight on par with aliens with his wits.

  9. Well thought out. I am afraid that the Nolan Batman films, so well done with TDK being the best superhero film of all time, will just be too fresh in everyone’s mind. To accept a completely new Batman will be tough, even as the director will surely remind us that this is a totally new Batman.
    I am excited about the possibilities. The Superman/ Batman conflict in Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns is one of my favorites. I’d like to see that conflict played out in the next movie leading to a resolution and teaming up in the third movie.
    We’ll see. I’m going to have some thoughts on this subject on my blog Mumbles By Zach. Check it out.

    • I remember last year a lot of people thought a new Spiderman was too soon. That was a 5 year gap, compared to a 3 year gap between TDKR and MOS 2. We’ll just have to wait and see.

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