David Goyer is leaving ABC’s sci-fi/adventure TV series FlashForward and Deadline believes it’s because he’s going to go work on the script for the third Batman film. Says Nikki Fink(e): “Of course, Goyer’s feature career is really heating up, since he co-wrote Batman Begins, and penned the story for The Dark Knight, and is now writing the third Batman installment with Chris Nolan’s brother Jonah [aka Jonathan].” I’m slightly skeptical that Goyer is just now starting work on Batman 3 since the film is so highly-anticipated that any spark of information will ignite the online world (remember those delightful villain casting rumors?).
Of course, the third movie in franchises rarely excel past the first two installments. I imagine Batman 3 will be a slight disappointment, but not a franchise killer. However, Warner Bros. will reboot the series anyway with an intent to skew younger. Wait, sorry. That was another successful superhero franchise.
Then again, a re-launch for Batman after the third film wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Hit the jump for my argument why plus information on Goyer’s other projects.
Before I jump into my argument for rebooting the Batman franchise, here’s a brief update on all of Goyer’s other projects, all of which I imagine fall behind the Batman 3 juggernaut: the Green Arrow and DC supervillains flick Super Max, Ghost Rider 2, and The Invisible Man among others. Goyer was also tapped to write the Magneto movie but that film has evaporated with X-Men: First Class moving forward.
Now to why I think Batman could use a fresh direction:
Christopher Nolan has done interesting work with his take on Batman. He’s cast substantial actors known for their acting prowess rather than their star power, and placed the characters in a realistic world. But is realism really what’s best for Batman? The challenge in Nolan’s movies is to see if audiences will buy a man dressed like a bat fighting crime in a real-world setting. Judging from the box office grosses of the first two films, they have.
But how far do we want to see this go? Yes, you could presumably cast any villain into this “real” Gotham, and I think the Joker proved it could work-to a point. I think the Riddler, an egotistical mad genius eager to prove his brilliance against a true challenger, is a cakewalk compared to a baddie like Mr. Freeze or Poison Ivy. Remember this fake poster for the third Batman movie featuring a photoshopped Kristen Bell as Harley Quinn? Is that really what people want?
After the disaster of Batman & Robin, Nolan swung the pendulum to the opposite direction and created his real Gotham City, or as it’s known in The Dark Knight, Chicago. But what is the purpose of this realism? I suppose you could argue that it makes the costumed characters more fantastical, but the approach also feels timid.
As I said last year, I think the videogame Batman: Arkham Asylum is the best Batman movie that will never be made. It’s dark, it’s gritty, and it’s not perfect either with the Unreal Engine making sure all the male characters are buff (marvel at Gordon’s barrel chest!) and all the women are sexpots (Arleen Sorkin’s voice acting makes the character work, but just barely). But it manages to create a world that feels real and yet entirely separate from our own. Nolan’s films feel ashamed that they came from a comic book.
Now before people reading this go apeshit, please know that I don’t hate Batman Begins or The Dark Knight. In fact, I find them both enjoyable. But I don’t want to see Batman live in the real world forever. I think Nolan should complete his trilogy and then hand it over to another director that will provide a new take on the character. It doesn’t have to be a complete reboot since we’re all tired of Batman’s origin story, but I don’t know how long I can live in Nolan’s Chicago/Gotham City without getting restless.
Circling all the way back around to Goyer and J. Nolan’s approach to Batman 3, I think their most difficult task isn’t in devising a premise (we know that Batman is on the run after The Dark Knight) or selection a villain or villains. It’s in finding a way to surprise audiences. Of course, that presumes that audiences want to be surprise as opposed to dealing with a disruption of their comfort in Nolan’s real-world Batman.
One more thing: either recast Batman or get Bale to stop sucking at his Batman-voice. I don’t care if he threatens to tear the lights down.