Just when you thought that things couldn’t get any worse, Warner Brothers go ahead and announce that Batman will be making an appearance in the upcoming sequel to Man of Steel. It is no secret that I didn’t like Zack Synder’s Man of Steel and I felt that The Dark Knight Rises was a disappointing final film for the modern Batman trilogy, so many may feel that this is just me reacting badly to two movies that I disliked being put together, but I assure you, there are many reasons for my horror at this announcement.
Least of all, reason number one is that it won’t actually be based on Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns despite the comic being quoted at the San Diego Comic-Con panel by Man of Steel cast member Henry Lennix. Instead, the script is going to be a completely original piece. Now, I’m all for original scripts and modern creative thought rather than reusing older, successful material. That being said, Batman and Superman in the same film is a lot of ego to deal with and they need to be dealt with delicately. If not, then both characters will end up seeming weak, poor shadows of their comic counter parts, and that isn’t a reaction DC and WB can afford with Marvel’s Stage 2 of The Avengers well under way.
Part of my apprehension comes from the fact that DC and WB have not done a particularly good job of developing these characters in their own films. Henry Cavill’s Superman spent most of Man of Steel worrying about what other people thought about him, and feeling conflicted about doing what was right and honouring his father’s request to wait until the world was ready. In the end, he was forced to take up the mantle whether Earth was ready or not and the impression left at the end of the film is that Earth still doesn’t fully trust the titular Man of Steel. Superman himself is a more active do-gooder but is still wary of trusting humanity. So we get Superman with trust issues.
Honestly, I can get on board with that for the most part. It was the first outing for Man of Steel, so it was important to establish Superman and the world he lives in. Character development could wait until the sequel. Now, however, we are getting a sequel with Batman involved, which sort of sidelines any character development that Superman might have hoped for. He is likely to go on being a broody alien more focused on his own PR than saving lives. Batman, on the other hand, will not be played by Christopher Bale. Instead, Batman will be recast.
Chances are we won’t get another Batman origin story. That is the good news, since everyone probably knows it by now and if they don’t, well then, Wikipedia is your friend. The bad news is that the re-introduction of Batman to the DC film world will happen in a Superman movie, possibly in 2015, a mere five years after he apparently retired in The Dark Knight Rises. Of course, there is nothing to say that the Batman that is going to appear in the Man of Steel sequel is going to be the same as one from the Dark Knight trilogy but it would be an awful waste to build up that Batman and then have a completely new Batman with a completely different character history involved in the Superman film.
The opportunity to see Superman and Batman duke it out on the big screen is a salivating suggestion though. Though, unless they introduce kryptonite to the franchise, Batman isn’t going to stand much of a chance. This Superman has already been shown to be willing to kill if it endangers random families (faceless crowds slaughtered by falling buildings are fair game though) so Batman doesn’t stand much of a chance unless he can level the playing field in some way. Even if Superman doesn’t want to kill him, he has super speed, super strength, flight, x-ray vision and heated sight. Batman has to grapple to the top of buildings. And I say this as a fan of Batman, but as much as I would like to see the caped crusader beat that pretty boy in blue, there doesn’t seem to be much chance of that happening. Least of all, because this is a Superman movie, and Supes will need to be given something in exchange for Batman taking over his movie franchise.
That said, we may never see a conclusion to the fight. More likely is that the fight will be to tease the viewer into watching but there will be a common enemy that they will deal with. Hopefully it isn’t Lex Luther. As much as I was looking forward to Bryan Cranston being cast as Superman’s bald headed arch-nemesis, the Lex/Superman conflict deserves a film all of its own. Bizarro or Brainiac would be good villains to substitute for Superman’s biggest adversary and doing a little bait and tease with Lex would be good way to keep fans hyped for his eventual arrival.
Desperation is what this move reeks of. There is a sense that Marvel’s success with The Avengers has gotten DC and Warner Bros a little panicked. Otherwise, they might have been content to build their own franchises, but instead they made the money-grabbing decision to reintroduce Batman a few years after his franchise ended. Following Marvel’s success, WB seem to have bought into the power of multiple heroes in one movie, yet they are rushing to capitalise. Batman and Superman headlining a single movie will certainly encourage movie goers into theatres, but it lacks the presence of thought that the Marvel created with the Iron Man/Hulk/Iron Man 2/Thor/Captain America sequence. I would rather the film was well thought-out than just have Batman and Superman side by side for the sake of it.
Maybe I will be proven wrong. The studio’s recent actions in terms of the superheroes haven’t exactly inspired me with much faith though. However, there is plenty of time between now and then to be convinced that this won’t just be some big budget fan fiction.