Whether you loved, liked or loathed The Dark Knight Rises (all three camps exist, I’m proud to have set my tent in the first category) the fact of the matter is that in the final act of the film (spoilers for those of you who haven’t seen the film despite nearly a year having passed since its release) Bruce Wayne hung up his long underwear and passed the reigns on to Joseph Gordon Levitt, under the assumption that ‘Batman can be anyone’ and that this new chap could handle business in Gotham while the assumed-dead Bruce enjoyed a well earned retirement in sunny Europe, with Anne Hathaway in tow. It was the best ending there has ever been for Batman – usually, he just ends up old, cold and alone in the Batcave.
Well scratch that, because it looks like Christopher Nolan has been convinced (by a Brinks van?) to sign on as producer of a Justice League film featuring Christian Bale, once again donning the cape and cowl as the Dark Knight.
With Marvel’s The Avengers still fresh in everyone’s minds, the question has been asked for a while now whether or not Warner Bros (owners of DC Entertainment, the home of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and others) would follow suit with their own team-up film starring the Justice League of America/Europe/International/Unlimited (they’ve had different names). This has always been a troublesome prospect as Warner Bros aren’t typically as thrifty with their superhero properties as rivals Marvel Entertainment, now owned by Disney. Warner Bros have enjoyed success with Batman (and once upon a time Superman was popular too), but other than that all they’ve really done with the DC properties is badly fiddle around with lesser-known characters (Constantine, Jonah Hex) and throw away their only real chance at success at creating a lasting multi-film inter-connected franchise (Green Lantern was a bit shite, to be fair).
The fact of the matter is that Avengers made 1.5 billion dollars and film companies love to assimilate and appropriate (read: COPY) well-worn business models. As soon as The Avengers started making money, it was a by-gone conclusion that we were going to see a Justice League film swiftly follow, whether or not it was preceded by a string of ‘warm-up’ films that set the stage by introducing the characters the way the Iron Man, Captain America and Thor films did. Many people began to assume that Christopher Nolan’s Batman couldn’t, wouldn’t and shouldn’t be a part of this ‘shared universe’ concept, given that The Dark Knight Trilogy exists in such an ostensibly ‘real’ (for lack of a better word) world, where things are still fantastic and a bit unbelievable (“His spine got fixed from someone punching him in the back?! COME ON!”), but not as wildly ridiculous and impossible as a world where a flying man from outer space can shoot lasers from his eyes at a talking gorilla. While we can talk all day long about Bruce Wayne’s various reasons for coming out of retirement, this is the biggest issue faced by the return of Christian Bale’s Batman. There’s an inherent issue of worlds not meshing together very well.
And yet…it would probably be a great film. While there’s so many flaws in the concept, as a fanboy, I can’t deny that seeing the Caped Crusader, with whom I’ve grown up, shake The Man of Steel’s hand would send me spiralling into quivering puddle of childhood excitement I haven’t experienced since my Dad bought me The Batman/Superman Movie cartoon on video when I was 8. It would certainly be a damn-sight better than whatever Channing Tatum-esque impostor they would have to hire if they did decide to go for yet another ‘reboot’ (think The Amazing Spider-Man) of Batman.
While this rumour (which has grown legs, arms and a head – such is its legitimacy) is both preposterous and insulting in how it effects The Dark Knight Trilogy (kind of), there’s no denying how much more exciting the prospect of a Justice League movie now is. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I hope this turns out to be true.
Rob Ó Conchúir