Positive Cynicism – The Dark Knight Reboots

Aaron Davis

Aaron R. Davis

I know there’s been a lot of Batman on the site lately, but here’s some more. (And don’t worry, it’s not even to be the one guy going on and on about how awful The Dark Knight is for a change.)

No, these are my thoughts about Warner Bros’ sudden desire for a Marvel-style movie universe and about the possibilities of rebooting Batman.

When The Avengers made all the money at the box office back in May, every other studio sat up and took notice. Marvel had finally shown that you could build up your related properties to an incredible pay-off that was both financially and creatively successful. Marvel had crossed the final frontier and taken decades-old properties and finally showcased them in the one media where they lacked the presence they deserved: film. And they made a shit-ton of money doing it.

Now Warners wants a piece of this, and a Justice League movie has become all but inevitable. But is it possible to achieve that dream while also in the midst of a wildly popular, financially successful reboot of the Batman film franchise? That’s the question many a film and/or comics blogger has been asking in the past week. Will Warner be able to successfully reboot the Bat so close to Christopher Nolan’s popular trilogy, and what does that mean for the Justice League movie? How can they reboot Batman? Again? Re-reboot Batman?

I have an answer to that: you don’t bother.

Seriously, this is not just me being a dick. You don’t bother.

Instead, you just press forward.

If they want this Justice League movie to happen any time in the next seven years, they need to just accept that Batman’s already been rebooted and move on with what they’ve been given. I think they have to stick with both the Batman they already have (though it obviously won’t be Christian Bale) and the crappy Green Lantern they already have. They’ve got a new Superman coming out next year, so this is where the reboot begins in earnest. But it would be very easy to just weave together what you have already and go from there. You’ve still got other heroes to think about.

A lot of the bloggers have been talking as though “obviously” you have to start over again by making a new Batman move, but I don’t think you do. Batman isn’t the audience’s entry point, no matter what those “Batman is awesome because he has no powers and isn’t a fantasy” people think. (The same ones who never point out that being physically perfect and with a limitless money supply that you use to buy gadgets to uphold the law by being too good to follow it is a fantasy.) And Batman has already been painstakingly re-established in the last eight years. Do we really want to sit through his origin story one more time? Is there a single person out there who doesn’t already know the Batman origin story? Do we really need to see the pearls hit the dirty pavement one more time? Guys, we’re good. We all know it. Babies know it. It’s in our DNA now. We’re pretty familiar with what this whole Batman person is about; this is a nearly 75 year-old character we’re talking about, he’s lasted this long for a reason.

Seriously, don’t reboot Batman. Instead, start throwing things into the movies that establish that Superman, Green Lantern and Batman all exist in the same universe. You don’t have to make a whole other movie about Batman just to establish that he lives in a fictional universe where other science fiction shit is possible. Seriously, the much-lauded realism of Nolan’s Dark Knight series doesn’t hold up under scrutiny, people will be able to go with it. It’s not such a big leap from “guy with half a face who doesn’t need to be on intense drugs to ease the excruciating pain but instead drives a car and makes coin-informed choices” to Starro the Conqueror.

Sure, you don’t get to use those villains over again, but who cares? Who needs them? The Scarecrow, Two-Face, Bane, Catwoman … those are Batman threats, not Justice League threats. You don’t need a Superman or a Green Lantern to fight those guys. And Joker? Are we even ready yet for a new cinematic take on The Joker? Because say what I will (and often do) about The Dark Knight, I can’t deny that Heath Ledger’s take on The Joker was a re-definition of the character that would be nearly impossible to top.

No, you guys have your Batman. What you need to worry about is just establishing that he’s part of the same universe as the others. Just weave it in. Little pieces. Cameos, maybe. He’s the goddamn Batman, he’s probably building up a file on these people. He’ll be around. There’ll be glimpses. And if there are fans who just don’t want the Nolan movies mixing with these new, more fantastical superhero movies, then they’ve got their trilogy with none of that added already.

Don’t worry about Batman. You’ve got him, and you’ve got the audience. Hire decent writers for your next Green Lantern movie, and worry about what you’re going to do with the Flash, Aquaman and Wonder Woman.

I think Warners has a much bigger problem on their hands than rebooting a character we’re all completely familiar with, and that’s getting over what is apparently the biggest stumbling block writers keep having with Wonder Woman: “I don’t get that she’s a superhero and a girl.”

(It’s also the stupidest stumbling block.)

Aaron R. Davis lives in a cave at the bottom of the ocean with his eyes shut tight and his fingers in his ears. You can contact him at samuraifrog@yahoo.com.

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