EDITORIAL: Why Joseph Gordon-Levitt Shouldn't Play Batman In JUSTICE LEAGUE
The latest Justice League movie rumor is that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is apparently "solidifying" a deal to reprise his The Dark Knight Rises role in the superhero ensemble, and will replace Christian Bale as the new Caped Crusader. Hit the jump to find out why I think this is a bad idea.
Today, we heard a rumor that Warner Bros. are “solidifying” a deal with Joseph Gordon-Levitt - who played John Blake in this summer’s The Dark Knight Rises - to play the new Batman in their Justice League movie, which is targeting a 2015 release. Another actor from The Dark Knight trilogy is also said to be in talks to return for the superhero ensemble. This is rather surprising news, since everybody thought that Christopher Nolan’s take on the Caped Crusader was over and the JL film will debut a rebooted Batman. The reception hasn’t been the most positive, with many fans saying that they want Bruce Wayne to be the JL movie’s Batman. As a die-hard fan of the superhero team, I have to agree with the masses on this one. I absolutely love The Dark Knight saga (it’s my favorite CBM series of all time), and Gordon-Levitt was fantastic in TDKR. However, I can’t imagine a character other than Bruce Wayne donning the Batman cowl in a Justice League film, let alone a character not from the comics. I have some other reasons as to why I think continuing The Dark Knight series in Justice League is a bad idea, which I’ll explore below.
Perhaps the most obvious reason as to why Nolan’s Batman can’t fit into Justice League is that the series is too grounded into reality to imagine the likes of Superman or Green Lantern co-existing in the same universe. That’s entirely true. I personally don’t think it’s as real- world based as Nolan would say, I can’t imagine such fantasy elements being featured. Christian Bale’s Batman was arguably the best big screen version of the Dark Knight to date, but was he accurate to the comics? In some aspects, no. For example, in The Dark Knight, Batman had trouble fighting off dogs. The comic book version commonly fights super-powered villains, aliens, etc., so if the Batman in that universe had trouble battling regular dogs, he would be killed instantly by an alien. I can’t imagine Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Batman doing much better. With both The Dark Knight and Rises grossing over a billion dollars at the box office, it would make perfect sense to continue the series in some form (especially with The Avengers being a huge success after connecting five superhero films). But Justice League isn’t the way to do it.
In fact, the whole idea of having either Bale or Gordon-Levitt as Batman in Justice League contradicts much of what has been said about the saga’s place in a wider DC Universe. Nolan has stated repeatedly that his Batman would be separate from other DC franchises, and specifically said that his trilogy is not in the same universe as Zack Snyder’s Man Of Steel. And Snyder recently suggested what we all thought: that Henry Cavill’s Superman will be featured in Justice League. So if what Nolan said then is still true, it’d be impossible to imagine his Batman existing in Justice League. Then again, with Nolan now out of the picture (apparently), Warner Bros. are free to do whatever they can with their characters, and any incarnation of them.
Another reason why I don’t think Joseph Gordon-Levitt should be Justice Leagues Batman is because, quite simply, he isn’t the best actor to replace Christian Bale. Batman needs to be a very intimidating hero, and JGL doesn’t really come across as intimidating. Also, movie goers are used to seeing Bruce Wayne as the Dark Knight on the big screen (regardless of the actor who plays him), and unless they go the soft reboot route and have JGL play Wayne instead of John Blake, then Gordon-Levitt needs to go.
Finally, a reason why Joseph Gordon-Levitt shouldn’t be the new Batman is that, plainly put, The Dark Knight series is over. Period. The whole story is about Bruce Wayne’s ongoing mission to restore Gotham from crime, and it finished ultimately with his nearly dying in order to save his city and retiring as Batman. The final scenes of The Dark Knight Rises, specifically where John Blake visits the Batcave, have been widely speculated. Many thought that the ending was setting up Blake’s taking up Batman’s mantle, and would possibly lead into his own spin-off. While I wouldn’t mind seeing Blake’s Batman (or Nightwing) in some sort of continuation beyond the films (I would love to see a comic book series chronicling his adventures, similar to how Smallville is currently being continued in comic book form), movie-wise, I’m ready for a new take on the Caped Crusader. A stronger, more comic book oriented, more intelligent Batman. I don’t see that coming out of JGL, unfortunately.
In conclusion, having Justice League be set in the same universe as The Dark Knight trilogy does and does not make sense. From a financial point of view, it would be inevitable to continue a mutli-billion dollar franchise in any way possible. From a realistic point of view, having a character who doesn’t originate from the comics suddenly become the new Batman and fight alongside Superman, Wonder Woman, etc. instead of bringing back Bruce Wayne doesn’t make sense. It especially doesn’t make sense when it comes down to a realistic Batman who can barely fight off dogs, criminals or terrorists, but is able to battle more fantasy-based foes such as aliens alongside other superheroes. It’s rather inconsistent. Even though it was Bruce Wayne who donned the cowl in The Dark Knight series, I don’t imagine John Blake being a whole lot better when it comes to fighting enemies.
UPDATE: This is rather funny. Just as I posted this article, reps for the actor apparently confirmed that the rumor suggesting that Joseph Gordon-Levitt will be in Justice League is false. Carry on.
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