Each and every week, each and every day, I have to make constant decisions about what I can cover, and it mostly just comes down to time. I wish I could write about every single thing that interests me. I wish I could review every single thing I see. But I have to pick and choose, and so I try to create a balance of smaller things, bigger movies, blockbusters, indies… I want to cover as wide an array of things as possible because that’s the only way this blog can ever truly reflect my own tastes and interests.
There’s a lot of genre stuff I cover because those were my formative sates, and I love seeing how far we’ve come in terms of mainstream acceptance of these things and in terms of how we can tell these stories on film. There are certain characters and series that I’ll always be interested in, and certainly I’m curious about how they’re going to handle things in “Man Of Steel 2” or “Superman Vs. Batman” or whatever the heck they end up calling the sequel to Zack Snyder’s superhero blockbuster from this summer.
Producer Daniel Alter (“Hitman”) made waves today on Twitter with the following casual Tweet:
– Daniel Alter (@DAlter007) November 15, 2013
This is not just idle speculation on Alter’s part, and it’s so specific that I’m surprised he was willing to share it in such a public way. Little by little, we’re getting glimpses of the bits and pieces that they’re putting together to create the film that we’ll see in 2015, and it sounds like they’re pulling not from one piece of source material, but from several. After all, there’s a long tradition of Batman and Superman stories, and it would be crazy to just use one of them as what you draw from when you’re putting together a movie that is, strategically speaking, probably the most important superhero film that Warner has in the planning stages right now.
It’s been interesting watching sites all over the Internet freak out and shift direction every time some new tidbit gets released, and part of the problem in the thinking in many of these pieces is that they keep getting hung up on which story they’re telling, when the truth is that they’re combining several different stories and taking elements from different eras and they’re building something that belongs to them, something that works not as an adaptation first, but as a sequel to “Man Of Steel,” picking up the particular story threads of that film and building off of them.
It’s obvious that Zack Snyder and David Goyer have been thinking about those threads quite a bit since they wrapped production, and they’ve been talking about them while they’ve been out promoting the movie. They’re not being particularly coy about it, either. As they’ve said, the end of “Man Of Steel” was not some accident they didn’t think about. They carefully considered what it would mean for him to be introduced to Earth via his battle with Zod, and the remarkable damage done to Metropolis and other sites around the world during that fight is not something they’re just going to shake off and forget about. When they introduce Lex Luthor in this film, they’ve given him the perfect weapon to use, because when you look at the way many audiences reacted to the ending of the film, it’s obvious that not everyone is willing to define this version of Superman as a hero. After all, if he never came to Earth, then Zod never would have come here, and no one would have died. Everything can be traced back to Clark, and that will make him a figure of considerable controversy.
Looking at what Alter wrote today, it’s not a stretch to suggest that “Kingdom Come” is another of the templates they’re looking at as they put this film together, but I’m already seeing people jump to the assumption that this means they’re doing an adaptation of the book. This makes me wonder if they’ve read it, because “Kingdom Come” is not only an Elseworlds book that isn’t a direct part of regular DC continuity, but it’s the end of everything. It is the conclusion of things for these characters. Superman is long retired at the start of the book, and he’s pressed back into service when the new generation of heroes begin wantonly taking human life.
What Alter’s Tweet has in common with “Kingdom Come” is the idea that Batman is also quasi-retired, holed up in his Batcave, using mechanical drones to monitor Gotham. Batman and Superman have a long history with one another, which is where their problems arise in the story. Superman’s idealism and Batman’s cynicism are at direct odds, and Batman resents Superman because he quit in the first place. There’s plenty of resentment to go around, as Batman and Robin are no longer working together. We’ve heard that they’re casting an adult Robin, and the rumor is that he’ll be Nightwing now, with no real mention of Robin.
All of this raises a question about Warner’s larger plans for Batman, and it’s starting to look to me like they’re not really interested in starting from zero again with Batman. If this is the route they’re going, then it’s pretty much the opposite of an origin story. They’re not setting this up for Ben Affleck to make an indefinite number of these films. They are establishing him as a character who’s already been around for a while, and that means that when the events of “Man Of Steel” took place, Batman was already done and back in hiding. Superman is something new to the planet, with Batman representing what happens when a normal human pushes themselves as far as possible. No matter what, Bruce Wayne will never be the physical equal of Superman, and that realization is going to alter his reality in a major way.
I’m in a weird spot on this movie. I’ve heard some things I refuse to publish because I don’t want to ruin some of the surprises that they have planned, and I’ve heard other things I wouldn’t run because I’m not sure I believe them. I think the script is very close to final at this point, and I think they’ve been working on this since the moment they finished the first film. There is a ton of enthusiasm for the film at Warner, and they’re going to back this with every resource they have.
The best thing I could recommend to fandom right now is to (A) stop worrying about which story they’re adapting. The answer is none of them and all of them and something in the middle. And once they’ve wrapped their heads around that, it is equally important that they (B) stop worrying about whether this is the first step to the “Justice League” or the launching point for “Wonder Woman” or anything else. This is a sequel to “Man Of Steel,” and if they can’t tell a story that works using some of the biggest characters in pop culture history, then all the franchise-building in the world doesn’t matter. I don’t want a series until I know if I like the new Batman or the world they’re creating. Tell a great story with this one, and things will take care of themselves from there.
And if you ever wonder why I expend energy writing about superhero fare, today’s events involving the Bat-kid serve as a perfect reminder of how this sort of stuff can inspire and uplift us all.
“Batman Vs. Superman” will hit theaters like a Texas-sized asteroid on July 17, 2015.