Written by: Chris Spicer, Special to CC2K
Fanboy Comics‘ Chris Spicer shares his thoughts on the upcoming Batman/Superman film.
Here’s some irony: this weekend I quit my job, the job that was preventing me from attending Comic-Con. The ironic part was I quit my job on Comic-Con weekend. So, I wasn’t in Hall H on Saturday afternoon when Zack Snyder summoned Henry Lennix to the podium to read from the Holy Texts of Frank Miller. I wasn’t there to hear Hall H explode when it was announced that the Man of Steel sequel would feature a conflict between Superman and Batman. Maybe if I’d been in the room and felt that palpable energy, my reaction would be different. I get it. I’d like to see some kind of Batman/Superman team-up as much as anybody. But, right now, Snyder and company are gearing up for this thing to come out in the summer of 2015, which means they’ll have to go from script to post in less than two full years. Does anybody really think that can work out well? I don’t and here are three reasons why I think this is a pretty bad idea.
1. Man of Steel was half-baked. The fan and critical responses to Man of Steel were all over the place. I’ve talked with people who absolutely loved it, and I’ve talked with people who genuinely loathed it. This isn’t the same situation Warner Bros. and DC had with Batman Begins, a film that was almost unanimously well received. My own review here at FBC was pretty mixed, though I think I mostly liked it. Still, I thought there was way, way too much Kryptonian backstory to it that gobbled up huge chunks of screen time. I never felt like any of the Metropolis characters were given enough to do. Clark and Lois didn’t share the screen nearly enough. I walked out of Man of Steel believing that its inevitable sequel would actually be a much better film. The groundwork is there, the cast is great, and I really like Lawrence Fishburne and Amy Adams together in it. With all that unnecessary stuff about Kryptonian Matrix babies and whatnot out of the way, the sequel would be freed up to tell a straight-ahead Superman adventure, with Clark ensconced in his role at The Daily Planet. Lex Luthor would likely stop by for some fun. It took two Bond films to reboot Daniel Craig as 007 now that Q and Moneypenny are in place. (In my mind Quantum of Solace never happened.) Likewise, I really think that a second Superman film needs to exist to fill out his world before Batman gets thrown into the mix. And, what about Batman? The Nolan trilogy is done, and Christian Bale has pretty emphatically said he’s finished with the role. And, even if Warner Bros. did back a Brinks truck up to Bale’s driveway and try to get him to wear the cowl again, should they? That trilogy is complete the way it is, and I am of the unpopular opinion that Bruce Wayne died at the end of it. (Obviously, he’s a figment of Alfred’s imagination at the café.) Does it really make a lot of sense to drop a new Batman and his cast of characters into the mix? I’m all for them recasting Batman and not retelling his origin story yet again, but I think a new Batman needs to have his own movie before getting dropped into Superman’s world. How in the hell would a two-hour movie introduce a new Batman/Bruce Wayne, a new Alfred Pennyworth, and a new Commissioner Gordon while also servicing the characters in Superman’s orbit? I just don’t think it can be done well.
2. I don’t think David Goyer is the right writer for the job. For Nolan’s Batman films, Goyer worked to help them crack the story, but it was the Nolan brothers who wound up getting screenplay credit. I think they’re better writers than Goyer is. Man of Steel’s screenplay was just a lower grade. It’s also being reported that Snyder himself will co-write the story. I don’t want this to sound mean, but the last movie Snyder wrote was Sucker Punch. Anybody at Warner Bros. who thinks this is a good idea needs to be forced to re-watch Sucker Punch with their eyelids pried open A Clockwork Orange-style. I have no problem with Goyer and Snyder helping break the story, but the final writing credit shouldn’t be the guy who wrote Blade: Trinity, Jumper, and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Mario Puzo wrote the ’78 Donner Superman, for God’s sake! Look at what hiring a writer with a distinct voice like Shane Black did for Iron Man 3. There’s got to be a great writer out there who’s also a Superman geek. Ask Michael Chabon to take a pass at it. Moving forward, it looks like Goyer is DC/Warner’s Joss Whedon. I don’t like those odds one bit.
3. There’s not enough time to do this and do it well. As I already mentioned, from what the principles are saying right now in interviews, there isn’t even a script yet. So, they’ve got less than two years to get this titanic thing made, and the clock is already ticking. I know modern Hollywood is obsessed with release dates, but Summer 2015 is already ridiculously crowded. The Avengers: Age of Ultron is out in Summer 2015, as is a little picture we like to call Star Wars Episode VII. Also slated for that summer is Pirates 5, Jurassic Park 4, Independence Day 2, and a new Terminator movie. That summer is already pretty stacked. A rushed Superman/Batman movie that doesn’t meet expectations (and make no mistake – expectations will be enormously high) could easily get crushed in there. For whatever reason, DC has not done a very good job of translating their characters into feature films. Remember the fiasco that was Green Lantern? Since the end of the Harry Potter films, Warner Bros. has looked to their DC properties to replace the cash cow that was the Potter franchise. If this Superman/Batman film sucks, it could cripple DC’s attempts to guide a Justice League movie to the screen, which is clearly their end game. They want a piece of the Avengers action. This movie has to work and everybody involved needs to take a deep breath, be patient, and make sure that it does. Their rivals at Marvel have given them the map, for whatever reason nobody at DC/Warner wants to follow it.
Chris Spicer is a Contributor for Fanboy Comics, an online conglomerate of geek media, providing its readers with daily reviews, interviews, and podcasts that span the pop culture spectrum. For more interviews, blogs, and reviews by Chris and the FBC staff, check out the Fanboy Comics website at www.fanboycomics.net.