DC Comics and Warner Brothers, and more specifically Zack Snyder, made an explosion at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con when announcing that the Man of Steel sequel will pit Superman against the Dark Knight himself. The crowd went wild, as did the blog-o-sphere universe and if I had been at Comic-Con myself I would have gone nuts too. But how many of you ‘Blinked?’ How many of you had a Malcolm Gladwell moment of doubt or concern in spite of how excited you were, how excited the entire crowd was, the twitter world, the internet, and any child, teenager, and adult that has ever picked up a DC comic? To be fair, I don’t expect everyone to say that they did but I myself as a life-long Batman fan have to say that I am feeling… concerned.
It is clear that this is in direct response to Marvel’s Avengers. Carefully planned each hero had their own movie or set of movies and then united for the epic that is The Avengers and will reunite again on May 1st, 2015. Strategically, Superman vs. Batman will also be released that summer which presumably brings them a step closer to their inevitable Justice League movie. Marvel has been dominating the big screen especially if you include Sony’s Spiderman movies and Fox’s X-Men movies. DC has had huge success with Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy but flopped big time with Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns and Ryan Reynold’s Green Lantern. Man of Steel has been DC’s first successful comic book film outside of the Bat flicks and since Marvel’s characters entered the movie industry with X-Men way back in 2000.
With Christopher Nolan producing Man of Steel it was speculated that it could be an extension of the Dark Knight universe but both Nolan and Christian Bale have been clear and upfront that they are done with their Batman story. Therefore, Bale is a no-go in this upcoming movie which means Batman will have to be re-cast and all viewers will have to disregard the ending of the Dark Knight Trilogy where the Batman baton was passed on to Robin or John Blake (or whoever that guy was). But that is the point; Nolan’s take on Batman is over. We saw how Bruce Wayne became Batman, what he did for Gotham City as Batman, and how he ends his tenure as Batman. The cape and cowl has now been passed on and Bruce Wayne lives happily ever after. That is Nolan’s as well as Bale’s complete story. Accept it.
Maybe in this Man of Steel follow-up they’ll include some explanation of how Bruce Wayne takes back the mask or maybe not. They don’t have to because like I said the Dark Knight story is over. This will be a revamped Batman. Take particular notice of the logo used in the announcement. The Superman logo is exactly the same but the Batman logo has changed from the Dark Knight Trilogy and you know that is definitely by design; not by accident.
Either way this is a full on Man of Steel movie with Batman in it. At Comic-Con Snyder announced that a Man of Steel sequel has been green-lit and then went on to present in dramatic fashion that Superman will take on the Bat. So it is important to recognize that the director himself called it a sequel to the Man of Steel; again a Superman sequel with Batman in it. If you’ve already seen Man of Steel then you know that it has a completely different feel than the Dark Knight movies. For one, it is by all accounts a science fiction movie. (To me it felt a little too familiar to the Star Trek 2009 movie.) We see Superman’s home planet Krypton (which looked a lot like the planet Vulcan) get destroyed but not before baby Superman is sent off into space to eventually land on Earth. Years later aliens, or fellow Kryptonians, find him and want to kill him and take over our planet by drilling into our planet’s core. (Sound familiar?) Yes, it’s a superhero movie but let’s be serious; it’s a science-fiction movie.
Batman is not of that genre. He is a detective. He is a billionaire science genius that studies evidence and catches criminals who are suffering from mental disorders not yet fully recognized in the DSM-IV. He himself is not a superhero in the true sense of the word nor are his enemies super-villains. Batman does not have special powers and neither do his adversaries. He is a mix of Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, and Zorro. His stories are detective stories with cool gadgets and a bad-ass looking costume.
Once you have Superman and Batman coexist you have to upgrade Batman so that he can stand a chance against him or keep up with him. You gotta give him electrical brass knuckles, exploding baterangs, a kryptonite ring, a led-lined mask, a beefed-up costume, a jet-pack, a tank, and whatever else we have seen from the many crossover tales from the comics and cartoons. Am I implying that I did not enjoy those stories? No, I did enjoy them but the best Batman stories are the ones that have Batman protecting Gotham City while taking on the mob or the criminally insane. That is his element and that is what the movies had good going for them.
While upgrading Batman you would also have to downgrade Superman’s strength. In the Man of Steel, when Superman punches Zod he goes flying through countless buildings before the momentum of Superman’s punch finally stops. If he did that to a human he would die instantly. Forget the buildings; the initial punch would be the cause of death. No way anyone could take a punch like that! So, now what? Batman is definitely going to take some hits and he will definitely get back up again. So now we learn that yes a human can take a punch from Superman and still live?! How is that consistent with the punches Zod took? Does Superman pull back his punches when taking on a human? Then it’s not a fair fight.
Even if they do a solo-Batman movie after this one it will take place in a world where Superman exists. How many of you questioned where the rest of the Avengers were while watching Iron Man 3? Why didn’t they just show up and help out? That same question will come up when watching the next Batman solo. Superman is a god. He can do anything and he can do anything in a moment’s notice. In a world where Superman exists terrorist groups would be taken out no matter how hidden they are. Wars would be stopped before they could even begin. Natural disasters could be averted and if not those that would perish could be rescued. And anyone of Batman’s foes would be taken out easily by Superman. They wouldn’t stand a chance. If the next Batman appearance isn’t a solo movie it will probably be a Justice League movie where again we will see Batman in a science-fiction story taking on aliens or giant robots and surrounded by other heroes with actual super powers. Yes, Batman will use his detective skills to figure out who Superman is (I mean if Lois Lane was able to then this should be a cake walk for the Bats) and yes, the Dark Knight well develop these clever traps to take down the Boy Scout but it will be for all intents and purposes a Batman fighting an alien from another plant – again that is just not his element. And you can bet that the real villain in the Superman vs. Batman movie or even the inevitable Justice League follow-up won’t be the likes of The Riddler or Harley Quinn.
This will pretty much end the Batman that we know. From now on Batman will exist in a world of aliens, robots, mad scientist experiments gone horribly wrong or horribly right, monsters from other dimensions, and most importantly superheroes with god-like powers. Yes, Batman will use his wit to outsmart Superman until they realize they are on the same side and yes Batman will be seen as the symbol of humanity that can live up to and be better than Superman much like Captain Kirk is to Spock but the Batman we all love, the one that solves murder mysteries, stands up to the mob, and is put into perplexing puzzles crafted only by the minds of the mentally deranged will be gone from the movie universe.