Just as all the great scientific advancements came out of warfare – superglue, radar, twinkies – the escalation in cinematic hostilaties has kicked everything up a notch.
The Dark Knight Rises is pretty exciting, about as exciting as you’d expect a third Batman movie from Christopher Nolan to be. The great, sainted Tim Burton only managed two, after all, and many were of the opinion that two was half a movie too many.
It’s what comes next that’s equally exciting. Avengers Assemble, and the Marvel Studios boom that followed Iron Man, has set a new watermark for the treatment of an intellectual property. Sure Marvel as an overall brand has definitely had some weak movies, but the core line has been a massive commercial success, and DC’s cinematic handlers Warner Bros are definitely looking to give their projects similar longevity, and perhaps even build to some sort of crossover, shared universe.
Although the odds of a successful Justice League movie don’t even merit discussion, there’s no reason DC movies couldn’t feed into one another with similar success, cameos, crossovers, maybe even a Batman/Superman flick!
Online, one rumour to have gained traction with fandom is that Inception star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whose Dark Knight Rises character is known only as GCPD cop John Blake, will take on the mantle of the Bat when/if Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) dies at the hands of Bane, and the trilogy is concluded.
Whether or not that’s actually what unfolds, it’s a plausible scenario and an intriguing business model.
Wayne could die, and bequeath not only his pointy ears, but his family fortune, to Blake – perhaps including avuncular butler Alfred, and a recently orphaned Dick Grayson to ease the difficult transition. They were talking about a Batman Beyond movie at some point, after all, and this dynamic isn’t all that dissimilar.
With Man Of Steel, Zack Snyder’s long mooted Superman reboot, due in 2013, no shared DC universe would be complete without a Batman to act as his dark shadow.
Admittedly it’s a huge risk getting shot of Bruce Wayne, and with him a lot of the other tropes that casual movie viewers expect from the story – you know, the playboy billionnaire ‘mask’ that hides the driven vigilante – but it’d be a bigger risk still to toss aside all links to one of the most successful superhero movie lines to date and be seen to have rushed out a cynical reboot – as The Amazing Spider-Man is perceived to have done with Sam Raimi’s own beloved triptych.
Avengers Assemble is a superhero movie cold war turned hot, and the old weapons – the dreary, cyclical rehashes of the names and costumes that hit all the previous high notes – will no longer do.
DC and Warner need a nuclear arsenal of their own.
If that requires a more pliant new Batman saga, with a central character they can mould into the sort of chap you could stand next to the Last Son of Krypton on screen and on the shelves of Toys R Us, yet maintains a narrative link and as much of the audience’s good feeling as the three films that came before, well, that’s a risk worth taking.