While Richard Donner’s Superman gets a lot of credit for kickstarting the comic book movie genre, Tim Burton’s Batman deserves nearly as much credit for leaning into the darker and more mature aspects of comic book stories, broadening the reach for these films. And with its success — financially and culturally — a boom followed.
Christopher Nolan also deserves credit for moving the genre forward following the post-Burton boom and the successes and failures that came with it. His films stand out as the most extreme version of a blueprint that smashed together human vulnerabilities and recognizable worlds with larger than life heroes and villains. Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne/Batman seemed possible, as did the damaged and dangerous Rogue’s Gallery that Nolan brought to the screen. Psychopaths in search of chaos and disorder. Nothing cartoonish about their villainy. All shockingly real and frightening.
Since the end of Nolan’s trilogy, Marvel has taken comic book movies to new heights, moving toward a middle space that occasionally offers complexity and grim/dark themes before swinging back to the “heroing can be fun” angle. DC, in response, has worked to (at times) echo that idea while also trying to build its own connected cinematic universe. But the results have been inconsistent. Wonder Woman and Aquaman seem like healthy franchises, but indecision plagues the future of Henry Cavill’s Superman, and Ben Affleck is leaving the cowl behind and “passing the torch” to a new, ostensibly younger Batman.
Yet despite, or maybe because of the long history of the character on the screen, do we really need another Batman movie, and can it be a worthwhile endeavor? Two UPROXX writers, Jessica Toomer and Jason Tabrys, hash out this pressing issue.
Jessica Toomer: We’re living in extraordinary times. Right now, we have the power to shirk the traditional Hollywood formula of studios relying on a cash-cow property like Batman for something more. Do we want future generations to look back at this moment and say, “Huh, they made another Batman movie,” or do we want to introduce them to new, exciting characters with inventive storylines and origins that haven’t been done nearly a dozen times before on the big screen? I don’t need to see another shot of Martha Wayne’s pearls bouncing off the sidewalk.