A few articles back, I pretty much condemned the next Batman film. I still stand by the idea that I just want to get this one out of the way, so the Batman film after (the one that the writers actually want to write, rather than being ordered to in time for the Justice League of America movie in 2015), can restore the Dark Knight to his comic book glory. However, I am too kind for my own good, just not able to let the harmless rabbit get hit by the car, without at least trying to tempt it off the road first. So, here I am offering four tips that could save the next Batman script. Once this article is over, I can at least go to sleep tonight knowing I have tried and shall wash my hands of the matter altogether.
(Although you know I won’t)
4 – KEEP THE TONE DARK
This one might be obvious to some, but I want to start by stating the obvious. Batman is meant to be a dark story (the clue is in the ‘Dark’ Knight bit). Batman is a guy protecting a town so corrupt that he barely makes any progress. He is fighting a losing battle and coming so close to the brink of death each time for near to nothing. The last thing I want is for the Batman movie to resort into ‘Batman and Robin’ territory: nothing more than a couple of puns about bats and ice and an over-the-top tone. Or even worse: we could go back into the Adam West days with each punch, resulting in a comical ‘BIFF’ speech bubble materialising out of nowhere.
Actually I am not too worried about this point. If this Batman film is meant to tie into the Justice League film, it must match the new Superman movie in tone, to some extent, so it will probably be dark as well. I would have a new level of disrespect for the DC writers if they built up a realistic depiction of Superman, only to have Adam West jogging alongside him, constantly referring to his excitement for this particular ‘cape’r.
However, keeping the tone dark does create a whole new worry. Nolan is the king of the Dark Batman and I have high doubts that anyone can, or even should, try to top that record. It has to be dark, but a whole other kind of dark. Nolan’s big theme was realism: the Dark Knight was Batman in a real world. So take the realism out. Keep the dark tone, but give the audience something Nolan would never have given us. How? Well…
3 – PICK THE RIGHT VILLAIN
Nolan’s rogue gallery was severely limited with what he was trying to do. Sure, he gave us some fantastic villains in his trilogy (Heath Ledger was mind-blowing as the Joker and Bane was at an all-time best), but there were some bad guys he would never have dreamt of giving us. That is the one thing that I am intrigued from this upcoming movie: maybe now we can see Batman fight someone that isn’t from the Dark Knight trilogy.
Personally I want to see Mr. Freeze. No offence to Arnold Schwarzenegger but he didn’t do the character justice at all, so the King of Ice could do with a redemption appearance in this film. I almost want the writers to check out the Arkham City game and loosely base Batman on that. He is cold, intelligent and downright terrifying at times. Also Freeze has the one of the best conflicts when it comes to the bad guys, committing all of his crimes to save his wife. There will come a point in the film, where part of us wants him to beat the Bat and that would be exciting to watch.
Although, five quid says that the writers will just do the Joker again.
2 – GIVE THE FANS SOMETHING
Again, let’s turn back to the Arkham games for inspiration.
What I loved the most about these games is the small details that went into it. Every alleyway would have some small reference to the comics thrown in. You would walk down a dead end, but get treated to a Wanted poster of the Black Mask: a small time villain you wouldn’t even expect to hear from in a mainstream game. It’s the kind of thing that, sure, only the Bat fanatics will get, but it requires zero effort to include. It could even liven up creating a set: rather than laying out the bland billboards that might not even make the cut, why not reference the Maxie Zeus Hotel just to liven up the day?
This could even tie in with my last point. Maybe you want to include a villain that Nolan would never do, but are worried that Mr. Freeze is just too hard to depict in a movie. Well, with small easter eggs sprinkled into the film like this, you could still have him in the movie, without ever risking an actual appearance. Imagine it: a green question mark spray-painted onto a wall in the background. A newspaper that Jim Gordon is reading mentioning a Crocodile-Man seen lurking in the sewers. This way you can show your audience that Killer Croc exists in your Batman universe, instantly creating some distance between your movie and Nolan’s, without risking putting a rubbish CGI crocodile man on the big screen.
1 – PLEASE GOD NO! NO MORE ORIGIN STORIES
However the most important thing is completely skipping the Batman origin story. We do not need it. If the Amazing Spiderman was rebooted too soon, then Batman Begins most definitely does not need a reboot. The origin story has been added to so many times (like the Spiderman one), that, in order to faithfully show the origin, but at the same time, add your own twist, it will take up a whole two hour movie. The origin should be the annoying beginning bit of the film that the writers race through to get to the point where the superhero starts hitting people.
The thing is the entire audience for the new Batman movie know the origin story. I reckon that everyone who sits down to watch it would be aware of the Batman Begins movie and therefore know how Bruce became Batman. It isn’t an overly complicated story: his parents got shot, he got rich, he got Batman. However, the exposition takes far too long and it will kill this movie.
Let’s go back to Tim Burton’s Batman. I loved this movie, because it showed a reflective origin story. The first scene of the film is Batman catching two thieves; we are instantly treated to Batman, which makes sense as it is the main reason we came to the cinema. Then the film gave us Vicki Vale, the reporter, who slowly uncovered Batman’s origin story. In fact, it even suited the detective style of the character (originally Batman was a detective, rather than a ninja with a throat cancer voice). So why can’t we do that again? Start the movie with Jim Gordon or Alfred and show their viewpoint of where Gotham is on the film’s timeline. That way we can get to Batman punching things (with or without speech bubbles reminding of the intended sound effect), within the first ten minutes of the movie.
You know what: just give me the damn script. I will write it myself!