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An Open Letter to Warner Bros. on Their Proposed Batman/Superman Movie

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Monday, Jul 22, 2013
This idea is the product of kneejerk brainstorming, not actual rational thought.

Hey, Warner Brothers. Let me save you some time (and hundreds of millions of dollars—you can send an honorarium to my Paypal account). This proposed mash-up between Superman and Batman? Bad idea. Really bad idea. Building an amusement park full of dinosaurs bad. Hiring Lindsay Lohan bad. Cheating on your spouse with a syphilitic stripper bad. If it wasn’t so outrageously misguided it would still border on the baffling. You’ve just watched Christopher Nolan elevate the comic book genre to an artform, seen his work praised and accepted worldwide - and, let’s face it, you did bank a bunch of money as a result. In fact, it’s safe to say that the filmmaker’s revisionist trilogy is one of the most beloved examples of the superhero archetype ever (all growling Christian Bale aside). And now you want to do this to the Dark Knight? The guy who saved your ass? Seriously?
  
Okay, I get it. Man of Steel underwhelmed. You had a good director, a screenwriter who is highly overrated and yet seems to consistently turn out profitable work (that’s the dim David S. Goyer, FYI), and you even roped Nolan into producing the thing for you. And yet, when all the beans are counted and the foreign territories milked for every last drachma, you will still have to beg, borrow, and home video steal to make some profit. We know, we know. After you opened the film and proved to fanboy nation that you didn’t totally screw the superpooch this time out, there were rumblings for a Justice League like pairing, but you’re going about it all wrong. You just established your new Kal-El, waved goodbye to the most successful Bruce Wayne you ever had, and now you want to reboot the latter while still struggling to cement your Supes? Huh?


Again, let’s look at this logically (and let’s leave the funny book loving members of Messageboard Nation out of it for a while). Nolan took what was a Schumacher-ed series, DOA and on artistic life support thanks to an overabundance of careless camp and crap casting (still think Alicia Silverstone was a good choice for Batgirl, do ya?) and moved it effortlessly into a modern milieu. He took the tenets of the crime thriller, the dark, dramatic aspects of noir, and realistic and recognizable archetypes and fused a four panel predicament onto it all. He even won you some Oscars, and when was that last time that happened outside of the technical categories? You told him a trilogy would be just fine, and even went a bit overboard to say you would then find another visionary filmmaker to bring their version of the character back in another, yet familiar form.


Now, I probably like Zack Snyder a helluva lot more than many in my profession (Hey - I will defend Sucker Punch until I am baby blue in the face) and I enjoyed most of what he did with Superman. Most. I wasn’t a fan of the unnecessary 3D. I didn’t like that The Daily Planet felt like an afterthought, and don’t get me started on that protracted ending. Yet I will defend Snyder and his aesthetic because, unlike others in his profession, he has style. Flair. A visual panache all his own. His mark is definitely all over Man of Steel, for good and for bad. Question is, is he right to reboot Batman as well? Remember, you can’t just port over Nolan’s version of the character and carry on (unless that is exactly what you are planning to do, in which case, you are crazier than I even imagined). No, you have to give Snyder (who is 100% signed on for this specious sequel, right?) a chance to establish the new Bat before offering up your new “Dynamic” Duo.


How is that going to work, actually? Will Goyer simply do what he did in Man of Steel and provide Wayne’s fractured psyche and desire to turn high tech vigilante as a series of random flashbacks? Will his parents bite the big one in the kind of off hand, casual manner that Kevin Costner’s Jonathan Kent did so in Steel? Or will you just avoid any mention of the man bat’s past, and presume that everyone in Metropolis (which is located how far from Gotham, BTW) will know who this other caped crusader really is? Granted, there have been entire comic book runs dealing with this subject, and the possibilities have fans frothing. But didn’t Snyder use his surprise secret Comic Con appearance to suggest the pre-existing storylines will only be “the inspiration” for where the new movie goes?


This sounds to me like a desperate Hail Mary conceived once it was clear that Man of Steel was going to fall significantly short of the vaunted Billionaire (Movie) Boys Club. It’s the product of kneejerk brainstorming, not actual rational thought. What about the remaining figures in the previous Dark Knight universe? How about those yet to be presented in Superman’s sphere of influence? How are you going to keep both fanbase’s happy? Why not do what Marvel does (sorry, didn’t mean to curse at you) and take your frigging time? Heck, it took them three movies to get Hulk right, and even then, they aren’t running out to make another solo movie with him. Imagine if you could get Darren Aronofsky to take on Batman like you originally hoped. Or how about someone new and equally nimble like Shane Carruth? Hey, you wanna really shake things up? Bring Tim Burton back!


Give this new Batman a chance to create his own cult before thrusting him into a movie where he may be playing second fiddle to a character whose just regained his mantle. Why not make the first new Batman reboot, give Supes a legitimate sequel, and then put them together? This rush to jaded judgment on your part is laughable. Granted, if it works, it will be yours truly eating crow while you dine on lobster and your own good luck. But if it fails, and right now, all signs point to that being the end result, you’ve killed your chances at any future franchises. Batman and Superman will have to be rebooted AGAIN if you ever want that Justice League thing to ever have a chance - and let’s not forget all the other members who have yet to see a legitimate release light of day.


Again, this is a bad idea. Again, you may prove me wrong. Again, you show no vision. Again, it’s no surprise.

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