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.