Now that The Avengers has delighted audiences and killed at the box office, it’s time to move onto the next big and shiny superhero toy: The Dark Knight Rises*. The film will be Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale‘s final go-round with the Batman, and audiences are excited to see how, to quote the poster, “the legend ends.” And after the legend has ended, how will Warner Bros. proceed with one of their most successful franchises?
Hit the jump for my prediction on how The Dark Knight Rises will end, how I’d like the Batman franchise to continue, and what I think Warner Bros. has in store for the caped crusader.
Before I get to my prediction, I want to make something clear: I haven’t read the script. I haven’t talked to anyone who worked on the movie. Nothing I write about the ending should be taken as a spoiler since a spoiler is based on fact, and this prediction is based largely on a hunch. And my hunch is this:
Batman dies at the end of The Dark Knight Rises.
I am basing this prediction on a few factors. First, I heard a rumor a while back about how the movie would have a potentially shocking and ballsy ending. Secondly, in the trailer, Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) tells Batman (Bale) that he’s given the people of Gotham everything. “Not everything,” Batman replies, “Not yet.” To me, that indicates that Batman will give his life to save the city. Additionally, if Ra’s al Ghul (Liam Neeson) is really coming back, then it could tie into the character’s message in Batman Begins about how Bruce Wayne needs to make himself more than a man. He needs to become a legend. Living legends are uncommon, which is why we feel the need to attach the word “living”. Killing off Bats would also remove Bale from the franchise, and leave little doubt in the minds of fans that Nolan would change his mind and return for a fourth film.
So if Batman is dead, where does the franchise go? Almost anywhere else it wants.
With Nolan and Bale gone, then Warner Bros. has the freedom to set up an entirely new Batman universe. It would probably be new characters all around, and a different set of relationships. It would be akin to the Spider-Man reboot except the studio didn’t kick out the director in the middle of developing the next installment. Furthermore, fans are already accustomed to a new take on Batman since the character has been reinvented twice already in his feature films (three times if you count Batman: The Movie). Furthermore, audiences would probably be more accepting of a reboot if Nolan’s Batman is dead. It wouldn’t be like Spider-Man 3 where the same interpretation of the character can still have new adventures.
Personally, I would be thrilled for a fresh new direction. I’ve previously wrote about how I think Batman: The Movie is a lot of fun, but I don’t think a new Batman movie needs to go that far. Instead, it should take its inspiration from The Avengers, and embrace the character’s comic book roots. I’ve said on numerous occasions that I find Nolan’s take on the character perfectly valid, and I’m glad The Dark Knight Rises will be his last one. A “realistic” Batman in an anti-comic book world has run its course. The character can live in a world that’s dark without being gloomy. For proof, please see the best screen-adaptation of the character: Batman: The Animated Series. Additionally, who wants to see another director struggle to emulate Nolan? To fans, Nolan is untouchable among Batman directors, and any filmmaker who tries to keep living in his Gotham will be dismissed as a weak imitator.
Sadly, I think Warner Bros. will look at the last three Batman films and come to the conclusion, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Warner Bros. President Jeff Robinov already got it wrong when he said Green Lantern 2 needed to be “a little edgier and darker,” as if that’s the only reason comic book fans would buy a ticket. The continuing adventures of gritty Batman would be a terrible outcome because it means the studio would squash the imagination of any potential up-and, and we would be stuck in a morose, real-world Gotham (i.e. whatever city played host to the production) for years to come**.
We’ll find out if my prediction about the ending is correct when The Dark Knight Rises opens on July 20th. As for where the series will go from there, I expect Warner Bros. will name a new director by next July with an eye towards a 2015 release date. Christopher Nolan might be willing to put the character to rest, but Warner Bros. will always resurrect the Dark Knight.
Sound off in the comments about what you think the future holds for Batman. Also, in case you missed them, click here for the new character posters.
*No offense to The Amazing Spider-Man, but it’s a reboot going up against a sequel to one of the most successful superhero movies of all-time. We’re still looking forward to it, but more geeks are currently geared up for TDKR.
**However the studio plans to proceed, I pray it won’t be another origin movie. The next Batman movie is allowed up to one minute to explain the back story: murdered parents + falling into a cave filled with bats = Batman.