Batman Vs. Superman, Superman Vs. Batman...
Anyone who's read this blog more than once probably recognizes my fondness for both superheroes and superhero films. In this I am like many other guys my age.
Ever since Man of Steel came out, there's been talk of its sequel, which we now know will also feature Batman. Who's in it, who's not in it, who's directing it, who's writing it, etc., etc., etc. I've been doing my best to stay abreast of the rumors (and most of them are just that, rumors), and I have a few thoughts on the subject that I'd like to share.
1. The General Premise
So soon after Marvel's The Avengers, a Justice League movie would be too much to absorb. We need an interim movie to bridge the gap. If they can find a believable, interesting Batman to go with the Superman they've already created, we'll have a movie that very effectively leads us into the Justice League.
As great as Christian Bale was in Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy, I don't think his particular take on Batman would work in the context of Superman. For "Batman Vs. Superman", we need the kind of Batman that created Brother Eye, the kind of Batman who keeps secret files on EVERYONE, and the kind of Batman who is smart enough to stay several steps ahead of everyone else.
2. How it Relates to Frank Miller's "Dark Knight Returns"
The earliest announcement of this movie featured a cast member from Man of Steel, quoting a line from Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns. As comic book fans everywhere are aware, The Dark Knight Returns was perhaps the most celebrated comic book series of the 1980s, and moreover a series that redefined Batman as a character.
The use of the quote leads one to think that Batman and Superman will be at each others' throats in some fashion, with an older Batman outsmarting Superman near the end. While I would love a movie adaptation of one of my all-time favorite comic books, they are obviously going to adapt elements of Miller's story to the world already established in Man of Steel. Miller has been called in to advise on this project, so I am hopeful that any elements from his comic book will be handled well.
3. Zack Snyder
Zack Snyder just isn't as consistent a film maker as Christopher Nolan. This point should be fairly obvious. I thought Watchmen was great, I liked the Dawn of the Dead remake, and I even thought 300 had certain points in its favor. For all his decent films, however, there is Sucker Punch.
At his worst, he is all style and very little substance. Man of Steel had a good first half, but the second half of the movie degenerated into a WWE Smackdown. Altogether it was OK, but it could have been a lot better. I think that if we get the careful "Watchmen Snyder" we'll get a good movie. If we get the flashy "Sucker Punch Snyder" then this thing will be a disaster.
4. David Goyer
Yes, he wrote the Dark Knight Trilogy. But yes, he's written a lot of bad films. I think his presence is largely irrelevant. If the director handles his script well, it will be good. If the director handles his script badly....
5. Henry Cavill
He's a good actor, and a great Superman. I'm happy he's coming back for the sequel.
6. Ben Affleck
My first thought was: "Really? The guy from Daredevil?" But he has directed and starred in some good films since, so maybe it won't be as bad as all that. He's certainly a good actor, and if the story's solid I'm sure he will make a convincing Batman.
I just find it strange that he's involved with this project. After Daredevil bombed, wasn't he quoted as saying that he wouldn't even consider a project unless the script is solid? This movie doesn't even have a script yet!
7. The Possibility of Robin Appearing
Please no. Robin is a relic of a time when all superheroes needed to have younger sidekicks, or stand-ins for an adolescent readership. Believing in a grown man who dresses up as a bat is hard enough. But a younger boy at his side, dressed up as a bird? In a pair of speedos?
8. Cameos by Other Superheroes
Some speculate that Wonder Woman might appear in this movie. It would be difficult to make such a cameo work, and Wonder Woman is the one superhero(ine) who really, really deserves her own movie. I'm hoping they don't waste her on this one.
If Warner Bros. is really going ahead with The Flash film, then it is also possible that he might appear in this movie as a teaser. Given the Flash's alter-ego as "police scientist," this might be more in keeping with an attempt at realism. Any display of his powers, however, would be distracting.
Either way, I doubt that either character could be easily incorporated into the film. Batman is so grounded in "realism," and bringing him into contact with a Superman will be a feat in itself. Why complicate the issue with other superheroes?
9. Potential Villains (If There are Any)
Lex Luthor is inevitably mentioned. But why? In the presence of a supersmart Batman - the kind of Batman that this movie needs, Lex Luthor seems redundant.
I can't see how a villain is necessary for this movie, and I think it would be better to let the audience take sides. This element - moral ambiguity - is one element from the Nolan films that ought to be preserved.
10. How Successful it Might Be
That's the big question, isn't it? I'm thinking that it will be moderately successful, but far from earth-shatteringly so. The novelty is going to sell a lot of advanced screening tickets, but the script and especially the direction will need to be really, really good if we're going to see a blockbuster. My guess is that it will enjoy a huge opening weekend, but lack the staying power that The Avengers is STILL enjoying.
11. What it Might Bode for the Future DC Cinematic Universe
Of course if it does moderately well we'll see that Justice League movie, possibly with Ben Affleck or Zack Snyder directing. If it tanks? I predict that The Flash will either be scaled down or disappear altogether, and that Warner Bros. might just decide that the superhero movie game is best left to Marvel, Fox, and Sony. I hope it does well, just because I am dying to see a Flash movie.
12. Marvel, Fox's X-men, and Sony's Spider-man
Let us not forget the competition. This movie is due out in 2015, when several other superheroes are also due to hit theaters. By that time "Batman Vs. Superman" will be squaring off against The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, and a rebooted Fantastic Four... which, by the way, will exist in the same film universe as the X-men films. Sony's Spider-man will sit 2015 out, though a third (sixth?) film is scheduled for 2016.
Which is not to mention the Star Wars sequel, a movie that will be rocking our worlds the same year. 2015 is a big year for movies, and "Batman Vs. Superman" will be facing some stiff competition.