From a new, unique Batman and the building of the DC Cinematic Universe to Wonder Woman, a better title and more, 411's Jason Chamberlain counts down the top 10 hopes he has for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice!
There was quite a response to last week's Man Of Steel column, the vast majority of it positive. It's good to know I'm not the only one who enjoys the movie. Of course, some people don't and that's fine; to each their own. But there's never any shortage of the "that sucked" crowd on the internet. The "you know, I actually liked that movie/tv show/book" crowd tends to either get shouted down or simply remains silent. So it's always good to hear from them.
This week I look ahead to the Batman/Superman blockbuster currently filming, with Henry Cavill returning as Kal-El and Ben Affleck suiting up as The Dark Knight. Batman AND Superman in one movie. Nerdvana right? Well I certainly hope it is, and given my enjoyment of Man Of Steel I'm reasonably confident it will be. But the news reports/rumors/"leaks"/set photos et al coming from the production have caused no shortage of consternation amongst us fanboys and girls, so I'm going to join the discussion and share my own personal hopes for the movie.
I should note that I will discuss a few rumours about plot and character elements that have hit the web. They are, of course, just rumours at this point, but if you're trying to stay 100 per cent spoiler free on this movie, you may want to skip this week.
10) A Better Title
I recognize that this is a pretty shallow gripe, hence its placement at the very bottom of the list. I try not to judge books by their covers (or movies by their titles), and obviously if this movie is still called Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice by the time it's released, I'll still see it. It could be called Sex and the City 3: Country Style and as long as Batman and Superman were present, we'd all go see it.
But it's still a weak title. What's wrong with plain old Batman vs. Superman?. Why even lose the ‘s' in vs.? Dawn of Justice is fine as tag lines go, I suppose, but it doesn't really need to be there, except to call forward to Justice League, which pretty much everyone knows is coming anyway.
World's Finest wouldn't suck as a movie title, though I understand that studio executives think we're all slow on the uptake and that if we don't see the words "Batman" and "Superman" in the title, we won't understand they're in the movie no matter what the posters and trailers tell us.
So I suppose what I'm saying is, just call it Batman vs. Superman. And if you must keep your Dawn of Justice in there, at least humour me and spell ‘vs.' right.
9) A Sweet Ride
From the one Batmobile tease we've seen, it looks less like Bale's urban tank and more like a sleek car in the Keaton/Kilmer Batman's style (Clooney? No idea what you're talking about). I'm down with that. I enjoyed the Tumbler, don't get me wrong, but I was six when Keaton's Batman hit the scene, and pretty much grew up dreaming of one day driving that Batmobile. It's still my dream car; if I'm ever shamefully rich, I'm totally buying one.
I think there's a happy medium between the tank and the Keaton car. It's what Rocksteady seems to be shooting for with the upcoming Arkham Knight game (pictured), and I have a hunch we'll see something similar in this movie. Fingers crossed.
8) A Good-Looking Gotham/Metropolis
The Metropolis that was featured in Man Of Steel was somewhat plain looking. It fit right into the Dark Knight aesthetic of these super heroics all happening in our real world; that Gotham, of course, was shot in a barely disguised Chicago (with a little Pittsburgh and New York thrown in).
And that worked for the Dark Knight films. But now that Nolan's trilogy is over, I'm hoping we can see a little more personality in our comic book cities. Now that we're rebuilding Metropolis, why not add some touches that bring it more in line with the 'city of tomorrow' vibe it often has in the comics? At least give us the Daily Planet globe (unless I missed it?).
As for Gotham, I'd love to see a city that matches the one in Rocksteady's fantastic Arkham games. To me it's the perfect balance between the Gothic Tim Burton style and the realism of Christopher Nolan. I want to see Superman fly past the Ace Chemicals sign!
7) Seeds planted for Man Of Steel 2/Justice League
This may seem at odds with my number one entry, but I view it as the other side of the coin. I'm cool with cameos and set-ups in these kinds of movies as long as they don't take away from the movie they're featured in.. Some of my favorite elements of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films are the callbacks/forwards to other films.
For a recent example, look at Guardians of the Galaxy, which includes references to a number of previous Marvel films in The Collector's museum, including The Avengers (the Tesseract, a Chitauri) and Thor 2 (the Aether, a dark elf). Remember the Joker card at the end of Batman Begins? All great moments that called back (or forward) to other films, without taking away from the story that was being told.
Will Lex's tinkering with Kryptonian technology give rise to Doomsday, or maybe Brainiac? Will we see Batman begin his stockpile of Kryptonite in the Batcave? Will Wonder Woman make a triumphant return to Themyscira in a post-credit scene? Or maybe a 'stinger' featuring the Guardians of Oa discussing recent happenings on Earth, and choosing a new Green Lantern to help protect the planet?
6) A Wonder Woman Worth Waiting For
Honestly, Wonder Woman has never been one of my favorite characters, or even one I was very interested in. I was born too late for the iconic TV series, and obviously she has never made the journey to the big screen until now.
But she is one of DC's Big Trio, so her movie debut is a big deal. As for Gal Gadot in the role, she did strike me as a little small for it. But male actors pull off remarkable transformations for these roles all the time; no reason to believe she can't do the same.
As for the costume glimpsed at Comic Con..... I hope it's just a starting outfit. It looks great on her, don't get me wrong, but it looks more like Xena than Wonder Woman. By the time Justice League or her solo movie rolls around, she better be in the red, white and blue! Maybe the switch will be inspired by Superman?
5) A Followup to Man Of Steel
As noted last week, I'm quite fond of Man of Steel. So as excited as I was to see a Superman/Batman movie on the horizon (with Justice League rumoured to follow) I was also a little disappointed that we wouldn't see another Superman solo adventure for a while.
Luckily, it sounds like the events of Man Of Steel will play a large role in this film, with Zod's invasion sending shockwaves through the human race and two of its most notable members (Lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne). It makes perfect sense that human beings would be both in awe of and concerned by Superman's presence, and if the movie explores that dichotomy, we'll be in good shape. We should also get a chance to see Kal-El working to perfect his new heroic persona, and I imagine we'll see him feel some guilt for the carnage caused by Zod and his minions (and himself, albeit indirectly).
Basically, I want to see the next step in Superman's hero's journey. I think meeting Batman will teach him more about being the hero he's trying to be, while Lex Luthor's hatred will show him that no matter what he does, he will never be completely accepted by humanity.
4) A Lex Luthor to Match Superman
With apologies to Gene Hackman and Kevin Spacey, my favorite screen version of Lex Luthor to date is Smallville's Michael Rosenbaum. He took the character from a troubled but all around good guy who befriended a young Clark Kent to a deranged villain bent on protecting mankind by destroying his old friend, and the journey was believable. Most importantly, he had the presence and charisma to stand opposite Tom Welling's Clark Kent/Superman and be seen as a believable threat.
The internet was abuzz when the news hit that Jesse Eisenberg of The Social Network and Zombieland fame had been cast as Superman's ultimate nemesis. In much the same way that fans had a hard time picturing Heath Ledger as The Joker after his work in films like 10 Things I Hate About You, A Knight's Tale and Brokeback Mountain, they had difficulty matching the often neurotic, bumbling roles on Eisenberg's resume to the commanding, authoritative and charismatic Luthor they had read about in comics for years.
I have no idea how Luthor will be portrayed in this film. From the character's history we can surmise that he probably takes a key role in rebuilding Metropolis in light of Zod's invasion, and probably considers Superman to blame for the whole mess. Will he scavenge Kryptonian technology to harness against Kal-El? Will we see him suit up in one of his famous mech-suits?
One thing's for sure; after Michael Shannon's great work as Zod, Eisenberg has his work cut out for him in giving the Man of Steel another iconic villain to tangle with.
3) A Batman That Stands Apart
When this movie hits the screens, it will have been only four years since Christian Bale last donned the cape and cowl in The Dark Knight Rises. Compare that to the eight years that separated the horrendous Batman and Robin and Batman Begins. Bale had the luxury of taking on a role that had been run into the ground by someone else; he had nowhere to go but up. Affleck, on the other hand, may have a hard time escaping the shadow of the very successful Dark Knight trilogy.
It will be interesting to see what kind of Batman we get in this movie. Rumours have circulated that this Bruce Wayne is in his 50's and has been Batman for almost three decades; and after all that time, the Dark Knight is still little more than an urban legend in Gotham. I'm not sure how I feel about that prospect. I have a hard time buying that Batman could be active for that long and still be an unconfirmed shadow in the night. I'd also rather see a Batman who's a little closer in age to Superman, albeit still his elder.
As for Ben Affleck's casting, I'm not worried. I would have preferred (the rumoured runner-up) Josh Brolin for the role, but I also wanted Clive Owen for James Bond over Daniel Craig, and now Craig may be my favorite 007 of the bunch. You never know! I think Affleck will slide into the playboy billionaire side of the role with more ease than Bale did. I'm intrigued to see how he handles the Batman side of the coin. I would like to see a Dark Knight that's having a little more fun than in previous movies.
2) Chemistry for Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill
Obviously, the relationship between Batman and Superman is going to carry this movie, and many more if Warner Brothers and DC have their way. These are arguably the two biggest characters in all of comics, finally together on the big screen. We've been waiting for this for years! I'm sure Cavill and Affleck are well aware of the expectations facing them.
In different stories, Batman and Superman have been enemies, friends, and everything in between. I have a feeling we'll see a similar journey in this film. If I had to guess, Batman is manipulated into fighting Superman before the two ultimately team up to face whatever the real threat turns out to be. These two will have a number of scenes together, probably in both of their alter egos. For this movie to rise to the heights we all want it to, they will need to have great chemistry. When Batman and Superman meet; when they fight for the first time; and when they fight together for the first time, it needs to be absolutely electric.
1) Cameos and Supporting Roles That Don't Overwhelm the Movie
When this movie was first announced, it was Batman and Superman. Awesome!
Then word leaked out that Wonder Woman would have a part too. Cool!
Then we heard Cyborg would make an appearance. Uh, alright!
And then Aquaman was added, maybe. Well, ok then...
And The Flash might be in there too! And maybe Nightwing! And Green Lantern! And....
Again, this is all rumour for now (except for Cyborg, who I believe is confirmed). All we know for sure (I think) is that the Big Three are in the movie. And don't get me wrong, of course I want to see all of these characters realized on the big screen someday, from Cyborg to the John Stewart Lantern to Martian Manhunter, Shazam, Black Adam, you name it! Let's see them all. Maybe in their own movies, maybe alongside Superman and Batman and Wonder Woman. But I want them to be included organically, and not be shoehorned into a script just to add star power.
What was the biggest complaint about Spider-Man 3? Too many characters. The story lost its focus. I don't think any of us want to see that happen to this movie.
I'm not saying it will happen. These characters, if they're included at all, could have moments so small, yet satisfying, that they serve to tantalize us for more in the Justice League film. That would be awesome, and I hope that's what they're shooting for. But we know studios love money, so the skeptic in me worries they're shoving in characters to get more action figures on the shelves.
Batman and Superman can easily carry a movie on their own, without stopping the train every ten minutes to bring another character on board. I hope they get a chance to do it.
That's all for this week. What are your hopes for Batman vs. Superman?