After the mega-success of The Avengers movie (known as Avengers Assemble to those in the land of Steed & Peel), Warner Brothers has finally started working on a DC cinematic universe so it can eventually make a Justice League movie. Eagle-eyed viewers already saw Superman smash General Zod through a Wayne Enterprises satellite in Man of Steel. On Saturday at San Diego Comic Con, its director, Zack Snyder, revealed his next movie will be a Superman/Batman crossover inspired by The Dark Knight Returns!
This surprise announcement has thrust nerds everywhere into a literal tizzy of the worst sort. (There will be a Flash movie, too. You guys and gals also like Central City's Scarlet Speedster, right?) Most are exhilarated that WB is finally taking concrete steps toward making that long promised Justice League movie. Some are already convinced that this could surpass all of Marvel's Phase Two films.
While a Superman/Batman (there's no chance of them calling it World's Finest, right?) will probably be gangbusters for WB's coffers in the short term, I still think it'll prove to be a bad move in the long run. I'd have much more faith in the project if it was being overseen by veterans of WB's stellar DC animation department. I'm not saying that it won't be an entertaining film, but it does have a lot of hurdles to overcome if it wants to truly set WB's superhero output on par with Marvel Studios. So if any of you have contacts at WB, could you make sure the right people take a look at this list before production gets underway?
8) It Makes Superman's Image Rehab Trickier
One of the big reasons opinions on Man of Steel are so split (aside from Lois Lane's and Lana Lang's hair colors being confusingly swapped) is that people were not expecting such a huge body count from a Superman movie. Even though Clark Kent went out of his way to help people in mortal peril, it was most apparent before he put on his Superman suit. So it's totally reasonable that the world would mistrust Superman. It's a neat - if unorthodox - idea to make Superman prove himself in the sequel rather than being the guy everybody already counts on. (If they don't address this issue, the sequel will feel very insincere.) It gets a little trickier if Superman's main opponent and eventual ally is Batman.
In most modern interpretations, Batman has a reputation as frightening vigilante whose aid thwarting costumed gansters with oddly specific fixations is only accepted by the authorities out of necessity (the necessity being that Gotham's authorities are either corrupt or inept). So odds are that the public will view the movie's events as two psychos having a turf war before agreeing to share the spoils. This won't be a problem if they go for a more Adam West-style Batman, but the predominant view is that Batman must be as grim/dark as possible. So there's a good chance that the Justice League could be headed by two public enemies, especially if Lex Luthor marshals the populace against them. While DC has had its share of stories where the world's governments preemptively attack the Justice League because they're paranoid about being subjugated, the movies should give audience a reason to root for the team as it performs incredible feats of heroism instead of instantly painting them as irresponsible threats. Defending a world that fears and hates them is already the X-Men's shtick.
7) It's Happening Too Soon After Nolan's Highly Successful Bat-Trilogy
Christopher Nolan's Bat-films have a great (if over-exaggerated) reputation among fans & critics, especially as they washed the taste of Schumacher's Bat-films out of the public's minds. This acclaim could work against viewers' acceptance of this movie's Batman. Christian Bale has already stated that he and his impression of a lung cancer patient won't return as Bruce Wayne. Fans of the Nolan franchise might be keen to see the continuing adventures of Robin John Blake (the worst attempt at superficial fan service in recent memory) as Batman, but it's much more likely that Bruce Wayne will just be recast.
Even with Nolan producing and David Goyer co-writing, Nolan die-hards may feel that rushing out a new Batman is a cheap cash grab and boycott it just as Sam Raimi die-hards did for The Amazing Spider-Man. Snyder's uncharacteristicly desaturated palette and "realistic" direction on Man of Steel may further confuse audiences expecting a continuation of Nolan's franchise based on similar aesthetics and tone. If Man of Steel had a more unique viewpoint that didn't evoke Nolan's movies so much (perhaps one more akin to the unabashedly vibrant Watchmen) viewers would be more apt to accept a whole new interpretation of Batman that stands apart rather than considering it a pale imitation of an acclaimed version.
6) Batman is Too Similar to Lex Luthor
Since they've heavily implied that this is based on The Dark Knight Returns, Batman and Superman won't see eye to eye. LexCorp featured prominently in Man of Steel's background, so it's likely they'll finally introduce a Lex Luthor who isn't obsessed with real estate, too. The problem here is that both antagonists are too similar. Both are genius tycoons who use Kryptonite (it's another safe bet that his greatest weakness will be introduced in the sequel so these humans have any chance of besting him) to defeat Superman, whose immense power they feel is a danger to humanity. (As a comic book aside, isn't it depressing that one of Superman's best friends is openly stockpiling weapons against him in contrast to his worst enemy, who is openly stockpiling weapons against him?) They're also obsessive and arrogant control freaks who don't fight fair. Sure, Lex doesn't care about crimefighting or know every martial art, but he's still prepared for almost anything even without a virtually magic utility belt. Their biggest difference is that Batman's armor is bat-themed whereas Lex's armor is just green and purple, the color of crime in Gotham City.
Lex Luthor is an intriguing archenemy because he has the massive cojones to constantly face off against a god-like alien and the brains to not lose by that much, but he loses a lot of uniqueness when you also have Batman fight Superman. Since Metropolis has witnessed the Kryptonian threat firsthand, it's also harder to paint Lex as the supervillain of the two since his hatred of Superman will have justification beyond the petty hubris or having his schemes foiled. This is one instance where it'd be smarter to develop these rebooted characters in different films before bringing them together so their contrasts would be sharper. Maybe in this movie continuity they'll split the difference by revealing Lex Luthor is actually Batman?
5) The Continued Exploration of Superman's World Will be Overshadowed by Batman's Inclusion
One of the interesting creative choices in Man of Steel was not trying to cram his entire supporting cast into the first movie. Being able to see Clark Kent interact with his new Daily Planet coworkers without blowing his superhero alter ego (something he needed to do a much better job of in the first one) in the sequel is a big draw teased by its epilogue.
Will the sequel manage to make ginger photographer (and Spider-Man's inspiration) Jimmy Olsen as relevant as he was during the Silver Age? (Close-ups of the controversial Jenny's ID badge reveals her to be a Jurwich rather than a gender-swapped Olsen.) Lex Luthor was foreshadowed as being a titan of industry whose grudge against Superman wouldn't be completely irrational. Maybe they'd even work in new foes to the silver screen like Metallo, Brainiac, Parasite, Bizarro, Maxima, Darkseid, Silver Banshee, Toyman, Lobo, Blaze, Doomsday, Livewire, Terra-Man or Mr. Mxyzptlk? What about S.T.A.R. Labs, Metropolis's Special Crimes Unit, Project Cadmus, Intergang, Kandor, Bizarro World, the Fifth Dimension, or finally showing us what the inside of Phantom Zone looks like? Do they have the balls and ingenuity to make the Legion of Super-Pets something that won't turn away the general public?
Well, forget about most of those possibilities! Making Batman a major part of the sequel puts a damper on further exploring Superman's revamped world because they need to reorient audiences to him. Like I said, they don't want to be known for tarnishing Nolan's legacy by confusing audiences that it's supposed to be the same Batman from his no-superpowers (yet plenty of plot holes) franchise. If WB wants to capitalize on the Caped Crusader's presence they're not going to leave him a cipher and ask audiences to just roll with it. So rather than fleshing out Metropolis beyond what prior films have shown to get viewers fully invested in this version of the Superman mythos, get ready to meet Bruce Wayne, Alfred Pennyworth, Jim Gordon, Gotham City and Wayne Enterprises all over again! If you're lucky, they'll even toss in a brand new origin flashback!