The GeeksverseThe Roundtable | On the Superman/Batman movie announcement

The Roundtable | On the Superman/Batman movie announcement
Published on Friday, July 26, 2013 by
The Comixverse staff share their thoughts on Warner Bros.’ SDCC 2013 announcement of its plans to develop a Superman/Batman film for release in 2015.

During SDCC 2013, Warner Bros. confirmed during a panel that the company is set to develop and produce a 2015 film featuring both Superman and Batman. spinning out of the recently released Man of Steel. Additionally, hints were dropped that, in grand superhero crossover tradition, DC’s two biggest characters would presumably start off as opponents, with actor Harry Lennix quoting a line from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and Man of Steel director Zack Snyder stating in a post-panel statement that “Superman and our new Batman[will be]  facing off.”

Fans’ reactions to the announcement was initially overwhelmingly positive, with many also interpreting it as a sure sign that a Justice League film is inevitable, but in subsequent days, some observers have started bringing up their concerns online. Zap2it’s Billy Niles, for example, asked

After the way [Snyder and Man of Steel screenwriter David Goyer] irreparably altered Superman’s philosophy in ‘Man of Steel,’ can they truly be trusted with any of these other beloved characters?

Topless Robot’s Matthew Catania raised the not unreasonable possibility that introducing viewers to a new Batman—Christian Bale will not be reprising his role as Gotham City’s caped crusader—based in a world where a godlike being like Superman exists, so soon after Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises could work against the film:

Nolan die-hards may feel that rushing out a new Batman is a cheap cash grab and boycott it just as Sam Raimi die-hards did for The Amazing Spider-Man. Snyder’s uncharacteristicly desaturated palette and “realistic” direction on Man of Steel may further confuse audiences expecting a continuation of Nolan’s franchise based on similar aesthetics and tone. If Man of Steel had a more unique viewpoint that didn’t evoke Nolan’s movies so much (perhaps one more akin to the unabashedly vibrant Watchmen) viewers would be more apt to accept a whole new interpretation of Batman that stands apart rather than considering it a pale imitation of an acclaimed version.

Musing on the state of the superhero film after watching Warner Bros.’ announcement, the A.V. Club’s Todd VanDerWerff, writing for Grantland, had this to write about future films featuring superheroes:

There are plenty of small movies about recognizable human beings made in every corner of the world, but fewer and fewer of them are given the huge financial backing of the Hollywood studio system. Even in the sorts of franchise films Hollywood does like to make, it’s unusual to find anything other than the typical formulas, the standard emotional arcs of boys becoming men and seeking their revenge. Or, put another way, look at how the earlier, better Superman films all were essentially romantic at their core, while Man of Steel largely exists to propel everything toward a battle that goes on and on…

… The success of movies like The Heat and The Conjuring this summer, movies that define sleeper hit status, suggests that American audiences [are beginning to feel unsatisfied with formulaic Hollywood franchise films], yet Hollywood can’t easily leave the path it’s on. The year 2015 alone will contain the aforementioned Superman and Batman film, The Avengers 2, and Star Wars: Episode VII, among countless other franchise tentpoles.

Below, the Comixverse’s staffers share their own thoughts and reactions to the announcement of a Superman/Batman film, and what they want to see from it:

Troy Osgood

I don’t like it. I don’t like the timing and I don’t like the reason. We all know this is because Warner Bros. wants to force a Justice League movie into existence, but they’re playing catch-up to Marvel’s Avengers. Marvel was extremely smart about it. They went in with a plan and set up the pieces nicely.

worldsfinest79It just feels like Warner Bros. wants its own Avengers. Could they use Man of Steel the same way that Marvel did Iron Man? Yes, of course they can, but it seems like they want to fast-track the development of a Justice League film at the cost of developing the characters.  Maybe they think the “superhero” movie genre (and I hate calling it that, they’re just sci-fi/fantasy movies, they don’t need to be classified as “superhero” as that creates a negative feeling in many people, but that’s a subject for another time) will burst soon and they want to reap the benefits before that happens.

Man Of Steel just established Superman. It’s not time for the World’s Finest team-up. The problem is that one of two things might happen: (1) The film is launched as a Superman vehicle so Batman becomes the “Warriors Three” of the movie—a character without much backstory, has a couple lines, some nice moments, but is really just someone in the background; or (2) Batman will take too much of the focus away from Superman, because the movie will spend so much time introducing Batman for the new shared cinematic universe.

Batman should be in his own movie first, since they are essentially rebooting the franchise from the Nolan movies.  I don’t think the team-up is a good idea at this stage.

Zedric Dimalanta

I haven’t really given it much thought, to be honest. I’m sure it will do huge numbers regardless of quality, but frankly, I hope it’s not another “important” movie like the past few Warner Bros. superhero films, all heavy-handed with their metaphors, overbearing symphonic score de rigueur. I’m not saying that it should be like the old 1960s Adam West show or anything like that, but would it kill Warner Bros. to make a superhero movie that can recreate the stylish sense of fun, humor, adventure, and danger that director Brad Bird managed in The Incredibles?

I’m kind of sick of all the over-directed scowling and the gritting of teeth and the screaming and the ill-considered stabs at “relevance” and the “inspirational violent death of a loved one” and the dozens of civilian casualties and all the other things that amount to the director basically waving a sign saying “Please take my movie seriously.” How about a little variety next time, guys?

Joe Milone

This to me, was the biggest story that came out of SDCC, and while I should probably keep my expectations for the movie low, I can’t help but be excited for it. When I was a kid and I saw the Tim Burton Batman, I had always hoped the next movie would have Superman in it, or at least lead to a team-up (How cool would it have been if Michael Keaton and Christopher Reeves teamed up?)

As for what I want to see? Well I think Zack Snyder should use these two items as inspiration:

What you see above is a fan-made trailer for a World’s Finest movie, which takes a lot of its cues from the Bruce Timm animated classic team-up:

The basic idea is that Batman comes to Metropolis, and Lex Luthor is somehow involved. I’m sure we won’t see the Joker, but there will be some common threat.

Look, lets face facts, the way DC has handled their movies, this will probably be the closest we get to a Justice League movie, and I’m OK with that. I’d rather just see these two team up anyway. I always have my JLU DVDs if I want to see the League done right. Now I assume this will lead into the next Batman movies, so the question is, who do they have in mind to play the Bat?

Jason Thees
batmanbeatingsupesDarkKnightReturns

There have been hints that the future Superman/Batman film will take its cues from Frank Miller’s The Dark Kngiht Returns.

I’m apathetic at best, and maybe a little bit horrified at worst. I so badly want this to be awesome, but I just don’t think it’ll happen.

I believe Warner Bros. has a Chris Nolan and Zack Snyder infestation, and that’s going to wreck this movie, and any hopes for an Avengers-like DC movie franchise. Obviously, from a dollar stand point, Nolan’s doing alright for Warner Bros. Great, in fact, but I don’t see Nolan’s dark vision working well for anything but Batman in the long run. I know, I know, Man of Steel did great at the box-office, too, but can it sustain? Time will tell I guess, but I’m betting on “no.”

Because of the dark and gritty tale they’ll have to tell (and due to their presentation of the movie announcement, which included a reading of a famous bit from The Dark Knight Returns about Clark remembering who beat him), I’m inclined to think they’ll borrow heavily from that book. It’s a classic, and deserves respect for what it is, but I never really felt it captured the essence of the character. “I want you to remember my hand at your throat. I want you to remember the one man who beat you,” always seemed a little too Lex Luthor for me, and I never felt Miller really “got” Batman. After The Dark Knight Rises, I had to wonder the same about Nolan.

http://youtu.be/m0Fw3zuu4-A?t=2m3s

I don’t think that Nolan or Snyder are the right guys to helm a shared DC movie-verse.

What do you think of the news of the Superman/Batman film? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below or on our various social media channels.
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