How To Reboot Batman

My ideas regarding successfully rebooting the Bats...again

How do you reinvent something that has been reinvented countless times? Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins started probably the most successful “reboot franchise” in film history. Since the Begins trilogy was so successful, how could anyone come up with something both unique and fresh for the continuing on-screen adventures of the Caped Crusader?

The great thing about coming up with engaging screenplays for popular superhero characters has to be the massive wealth of pre-existing source material. Batman has existed through many decades, has transformed several times, has won, lost, and has battled the most recognizable of super villains. Whoever gets the job of writing the inevitable Batman reboot will inevitably ask, “Where to start?”

In what was a testament to the versatility of the character, Batman was hugely successful in two distinct mediums simultaneously (not including comic books since he always exists in several forms in different continuities): the gritty, hyper-realistic Nolan film universe, and the more comic book-influenced unrealistic Arkham video game universe. Both Batmen were both extremely pleasing to fans and remained true to the character, despite glaring differences.

So, here is my list of concepts that I feel, if executed properly, can make for another successful reboot of the character on film:

1. Casting, Casting, Casting: Okay, I’m going to get this one out of the way immediately. The casting of Bruce Wayne/Batman needs to be perfect. Topher Grace as Eddie Brock/Venom. Nicolas Cage as Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider. As history has shown us, bad casting can ruin a superhero flick. The casting of Gotham’s greatest hero will most likely be the largest deciding force regarding the film's success. The guy must be dark, brooding, and a great actor. He must be able to pull off intense fight scenes, along with the stereotypical ultra-rich playboy shtick Bruce Wayne uses to help hide his alter-ego. Christian Bale (whether you hated his gravelly Batman voice or not) was successful at being both the billionaire and the Bat, and a similar talent must be found for the reboot. My first casting choice would have to be Magneto himself, Michael Fassbender. With the addition of a little more muscle, he has all the right ingredients to play the part. My second choice may be a bit of a surprise to some: former Boardwalk Empire co-star Michael Pitt. Pitt may not be the first potential Bruce Wayne to pop into most fans’ minds, but I think, again with a little more muscle, he could really do the part justice. He has a darkness about him that he displayed with expert skill in both Boardwalk and a Sandra Bullock film called Murder By Numbers, and I think he could be a perfect fit. Sorry Winklevoss twin…I mean Armie Hammer.

2. Give Us Something Different: With the “superhero movie” being Hollywood’s biggest and most popular trend, we are seeing several comic book movie adaptations every year now. Unfortunately, what has the potential to happen (and some may argue has already happened) is that the comic book movie industry can become over-saturated with similar ideas. Of course, Hollywood is based on business, and what trends the most is what makes the most money. Marvel’s The Avengers was a huge, money-making success. So, what does DC/Warner Bros. do? They start production on a Justice League film. So this means we, as fans, will see many helpless civilians being saved from things that are either falling or burning, will sit through countless tales of reluctant heroes questioning whether or not to give it all up for a normal life, and relationships tested by secrets being kept to ensure someone’s safety. What was once original is now becoming cliché, and Batman MUST not fall into that trap.

My solution to this potential pitfall is as follows: put Batman in a situation his film self has never been in before. Skip his origin. We’ve all seen it before (sorry Amazing Spider-man).What I would like to see is something of a variation of the plot seen in the Batman Arkham Asylum video game. Imagine Batman getting trapped in the world’s worst asylum for the criminally insane by a villain that does not have to be the Joker. Imagine Batman fighting for his life; not struggling to save the love interest or Gotham City, but simply himself. Imagine Batman without most of his gadgets and having to defeat his captor with nothing else but his genius detective intellect and brute physical toughness. I like to think of it almost like a horror film, but instead of a helpless teenage girl being chased by a homicidal psychopath, IT’S THE FREAKING BATMAN! I think Batman is the perfect superhero to blend the horror genre with, since he is definitely the darkest of the upper echelon of superheroes. Which villain you ask? My choice would be Victor Zsasz. I know the character had some brief cameos in the Nolan films, but I think a fully fleshed-out version of the character could be intense on film. Since Batman would be trapped in a place full of bad guys, other villains could show up as well, as long as they serve a purpose and aren’t there simply just to please fanboys. Killer Croc anyone? He could be perfect to both make a Batman reboot feel more like the comic books and amp up the horror aspects.

3. Include more of the Bat-family: Okay, I’ll get this out of the way now: Joseph Gordon-Levitt was not Robin in The Dark Knight Rises. Yes, Christopher Nolan intended for him to ultimately be playing that character as we find out toward the film’s end, but the real Batman fans know he was not Robin. He was a cop who believed in Batman and all that other stuff. I want to see the real Robin. I know many Bat-fans hate the Boy Wonder, but I think he can be cool if presented the right way. Once again, I would take inspiration from the video games. The Robin seen in Batman Arkham City was indisputably awesome. The simple additions of a black hood and retractable staff weapon made Robin a badass not to be f*cked with (the removal of green in his costume’s color palette was spot-on as well). I would love to see an on-screen Robin that’s almost more dangerous than Batman himself. He should be lightning quick, agile as hell, and a bit of a smartass. Any gamer who has experienced the nuanced differences of playing as either Batman or Robin can attest to the potential awesomeness of the character. He may not have the brute strength or intelligence of the Batman, but he definitely has the visual flare in his fighting abilities.

Imagine seeing the evolution of Robin into Nightwing on film. There is enormous potential for great drama in that transformation of the character and dissolution of a partnership. Imagine seeing the Red Hood plot line unfold in live-action. The animated film, Batman: Under the Red Hood showed just some of the huge potential for entertaining stories involving Robin and Nightwing. Okay, now for my casting choice. I think a relative unknown would be the best choice for the role. The actor needs to have astounding acrobatic abilities and must at least look like he’s a little on the younger side. As of right now, I can’t think of any current Hollywood actors that are either young or look young and can pull off Jackie Chan-style acrobatics in a fight scene context. A paralyzed Barbara Gordon becoming Oracle would be pretty sweet on screen as well.

Well, there you have it. That’s how you successfully reboot the Batman film franchise. Simple, right? Thanks for reading, and let me know your ideas in the comments below!
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