This weekend, at San Diego’s Comic-Con International, it was announced that Warner Bros. is moving ahead with a sequel to Man of Steel. There is no big surprise there, considering the film has made around $630 million worldwide as of this writing. The big surprise came from the announcement of Batman being re-introduced and rebooted in Man of Steel 2. With that announcement, the internet lit up like fire; everyone was looking for more information, and the only thing we have to go on is a press release.
While the idea of a Superman/Batman crossover film is nothing new, Wolfgang Peterson (Air Force One, Das Boot) was actually preparing a Batman/Superman film in 2003/2004, my only concern is if it’s too soon to reboot the character of Batman.
One of the most successful franchises in the history of film, Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises) just finished with it’s final film last year. Christopher Nolan even stated publicly, numerous times, that he was done with Batman and implied that he was done with comic book films. Of course, that didn’t stop him from shepherding the Man of Steel film as a hands-on producer, and his influence can be felt in the film, even if the finished film is less Nolan and more Zack Snyder, the director.
The impact of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy rings through the entire cinematic comic book film strata. If not for the successful reboot of Batman in Batman Begins in 2005, it is highly unlikely we would have had Marvel’s current domination of the cinema’s with Iron Man and it’s sequels, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America: The First Avenger, and Thor, along with one of the highest grossing films of all time, The Avengers. Not to mention Green Lantern and Man of Steel. The simple fact that Nolan, along with screenwriter David Goyer, reinvigorated the stale comic book film genre almost single handedly assures that the question must be asked: Is it too soon to reboot Batman in a Superman film?*
I wasn’t a huge fan of Snyder’s Man of Steel. You can read my other editorial’s about the film by clicking the Editorial link, or read my review by clicking the Theatrical Review link at the bottom of the page. Simply put, I loved the first half and hated the second. I will not go into detail here, as I have written 3000 words on the subject already. My concern is simply that Zack Snyder doesn’t understand the characters as much as he want’s us to think he does. And this creates a terrible problem when it comes to creating a Superman/Batman film.
I don’t want you to think I have a hate hard on for Snyder. That is not the case at all. In fact, I loved Dawn of the Dead, 300, and Watchmen. I even liked Sucker Punch. His visual flair is next to none. He is a brilliant purveyor for CGI in films and does so with gusto and gravitas. I am actually a huge fan of his work, just not Man of Steel. Well, not all of Man of Steel. I believe that the first half of the film is on par with the greatest superhero films ever created. I just feel like not understanding the character made the second half topple over, much like most of Metropolis in the finale.
So is he the right man to be tasked with rebooting Batman? Well, with the help of David Goyer, he just might be. Goyer is a successful screenwriter who has spent much of his career writing superhero films. He wrote all of Nolan’s trilogy, as well as all three Blade films, and Dark City. He also wrote The Crow: City of Angels.* Clearly, Goyer understands comic book films and understands the character of Batman.
With Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy just wrapping up last year, though, I still feel that it is too soon to reboot the character. It took 8 years for Warner Bros. to be comfortable rebooting Batman after 1997’s Batman and Robin. Now they are going to do it in three? While I think Snyder and Goyer can handle it, can audiences who only know Christian Bale as Batman? Will they understand why there is someone else playing Batman in a different universe not tied to Nolan’s? And what about the eventual and inevitable recasting of The Joker?* How will audiences react to the character after Heath Ledger’s Oscar winning turn as the Clown Prince of Crime? I can’t answer these questions. I can only ponder them until the release of the film.
So is it too soon? I think it is. I think that, more than anything, it is going to cause general theatrical audiences confusion. And if anything was learned about audience confusion, just look to Dredd. From talking to the average theatrical consumer, they were confused by the film not starring Sylvester Stallone and, as such, stayed away from the theater.*
I have high hopes for this film, though. I feel that if Snyder and Goyer do this right, it could be one of cinema’s greatest comic book films. Let’s all cross our fingers and hope they can pull it off. Now, who is going to take over the role immortalized by Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, and Christian Bale? We can only speculate, but I assure you that it won’t be long before it is announced, with the film scheduled to go into production next year for a 2015 release.
*It can be argued the Sam Raimi’s 2002 film, Spider-Man and it’s subsequent sequels reinvigorated the comic book genre. While they were first on the scene and made boatloads of money, they were still a little bit tongue in cheek. Nolan’s realistic, dark take on the material is the blueprint almost all current comic book films follow. It can also be argued for The Crow being the first dark take on a comic book hero. The Crow releases in 1994, so it really can’t be considered the groundwork for this new spate of comic films.
*While The Crow: City of Angels is hated on by fans of the first film, I recently re-watched it and it wasn’t as terrible as I remembered it. You have to cut the film a little slack when you consider the fact that the studio took the film from director Tim Pope and completely re-edited it to look more like the first film. In fact, the original cut of the film was 160 minutes, while the theatrical cut was only 84 minutes.
*I do not expect The Joker to appear in Man of Steel 2. I feel that that is a character they are not going to touch with a ten year pole. Honestly, I can’t see any actor having the balls to take it after Ledger’s performance. Eventually, though, he will appear. Just don’t expect it anytime soon.
*In my line of work, I deal with home video. I talk to a lot of people about films daily, and can honestly say that the Sylvester Stallone question about Dredd is the most asked question about the film. If it is any good is the second, but a distant second.
- Superman and Batman team up in Man of Steel 2!! (bizzammovienews.com)