Batman vs. Superman?
When I was a kid, few things tapped into my imagination more than comic books and their endless supply of colorful and charismatic characters: Green Lantern, Flash, the Punisher, Daredevil, Spider Man, the Hulk, Wolverine, Shang Chi, Black Lightning, Green Arrow… the list goes on forever, believe me. Like most kids, though, there were two superheroes that were always near the top of my favorites list: the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight.
Superman was an obvious choice because, honestly, he’s a badass. A common question among my friends was, “If you could be any superhero, who would it be?” Inevitably, someone always answered Superman since no other hero had the same impressive collection of powers: flight, heat vision, super strength, super speed and even invincibility—unless a villain had Kryptonite, which luckily was pretty hard to come by. And since Superman’s powers came from our yellow sun, there was never any fear of losing them. You could just fly around and fight crime forever as the world’s premier hero, beloved by millions of people and feared by evildoers everywhere.
Of course, I always answered the superhero question a little differently, a fact that confused friends who thought I might be selling myself short. Instead of picking someone like Superman, the Hulk or another freakishly powerful character, I opted for someone less flashy but just as awesome: Batman. Despite having no super powers to speak of—unless you count unlimited wealth and serious personal motivation (the result of his parents being gunned down by the criminal Joe Chill when he was a child)—Batman could hold his own against anyone. He didn’t need super strength, a power ring or some magical hammer to kick ass. Instead, he relied on his wits, intelligence, extensive training, nearly endless gadgets and deep-seeded hatred of crime to defeat some of the worst villains the comic book world had to offer.
What also attracted me to “The Caped Crusader” was the fact that theoretically, anyone could be Batman. Sure, you would need an almost bottomless bank account, a mansion and headquarters—preferably a cave—years and years of training and exercise and, most importantly, the will to devote your life to crime fighting, but at least it was possible. While my friends dreamed of being bitten by radioactive spiders, struck by lightning, exposed to cosmic energy or endowed with powers from some dying alien warrior—none of which were ever likely to happen, of course—I knew that given the right circumstances, I could become Batman in reality.
Laziness and a lack of financial resources obviously prevented this from happening later in life, but back then, anything was possible. And while my friends’ favorite superheroes constantly changed—based on popularity, toy availability and other factors—I always stuck with Batman. Not even a pathetic string of films—most notably that sorry 1989 debut featuring Michael Keaton as the pointy-eared crime fighter (as if Mr. Mom could ever do him justice)—could ruin Batman for me. They came close, but thankfully I stood by long enough to see Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale do right by my all-time favorite comic hero. And I’m sorry, but there is no better Batman film than 2008’s The Dark Knight—and no better Joker than the one created by the late Heath Ledger.
Sorry, Jack Nicholson, but it’s true. Heath set the standard and, consequently, I doubt we will ever see the Joker on-screen again, at least in my lifetime. No one will ever top his performance, so why even try, right?
Comic book films have certainly come a long way in the last twenty or thirty years, thanks in no small part to computers and the amazingly seamless effects they can produce. And The Dark Knight isn’t the only film that reignited my love for comics and superheroes. Movies like X-Men, X-Men First Class, Spider Man, Thor, Iron Man, The Avengers and the other two installments of the Nolan-Batman trilogy—Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises—make me feel like a kid again. And that childhood dream of watching a film that truly honored the comic has finally been realized.
The other day, my son asked me why no one has made a crossover film yet—like a collaboration between comic book giants Marvel and DC. It was a pretty intelligent question coming from a six-year-old, believe me. Prior to this, his only exposure to crossovers came when we were thumbing through the comic book collection my brother and I put together as kids. I have two oversized comics that feature such crossovers: Batman vs. The Hulk and Spider Man vs. Superman. Both would make great films, we agreed, but then we started to brainstorm a few of our own: Batman and Wolverine, Superman and Thor, Spider Man and Batman, Spider Man and Wolverine—I actually have a comic that features these two characters, which is pretty cool—or even Batman and Superman.
This last combination would not be a true crossover between comic book companies—both come from the DC stable of heroes—but it would be something to see. And it would certainly rival Marvel’s first crossover film, The Avengers. What’s more, these characters used to partner all the time in the comic book universe. I have old Batman and Detective Comics issues from the 1950s and 1960s full of Batman-Superman team-ups, occasionally with Robin joining in the fun.
We should also remember the outstanding work of Frank Miller, who produced a true classic in 1986 called Batman: The Dark Knight. This limited series comic tells the story of a 55-year-old Batman who returns from retirement to face a new breed of vicious criminal, not to mention opposition from the police and federal government. He even faces off against one of his oldest friends—the Man of Steel—sent by the American president to stop the Caped Crusader. A ferocious battle ensues, of course, but I won’t spoil the ending. You may want to see it for yourself sometime soon.
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. The news I have been waiting for all these years has finally come: a Batman-Superman crossover film is currently in the works.
The official announcement from Warner Brothers came at Comic-Con on Saturday and production is expected to begin next year. From what I understand, Man of Steel director Zack Snyder and current Superman star Henry Cavill are already onboard, as are Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane. No word yet on who will play Batman, but it will not be Christian Bale, who recently told Entertainment Weekly he was out. Christopher Nolan will likely serve as an executive producer—which gets me even more excited since he saved the Batman films—but the lead role is still in question.
I suspect the new Batman will be Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who played Detective John Blake in The Dark Knight Rises. There is a scene at the end of that film where someone references his full name—Robin John Blake—which is an obvious nod to Batman’s sidekick in the comic books. Of course, the original Robin—Dick Grayson—never took up his mentor’s mantle, opting instead to become his own hero, Nightwing. That doesn’t mean the story can’t be changed for the movies, though. A new Batman will be needed once those films start being developed again—and given its financial power, someone is sure to start making them. Why not Gordon-Levitt? He’s bulking up, does a pretty good job on-screen and likely comes a lot cheaper than Christian Bale. I certainly hope they give him a shot.
This summer’s Man of Steel proved that a new face could carry an old franchise to glory—and Cavill was the second new face for Superman in the last seven years (Brandon Routh played the last son of Krypton in 2006’s Superman Returns, which was pretty forgettable). Snyder’s reimagining broke the record for the biggest June opening—raking in more than $125 million the first weekend—and has since topped $630 million worldwide. Drop Batman into the mix and there is no telling how much more can be made!
According to Snyder, Superman and Batman will be rivals in the new film, much as they were in Miller’s 1986 comic. In fact, Harry Lennix took the stage at Comic-Con and read a line from the classic Batman tale: “I want you to remember, Clark. In all the years to come, in all your private moments, I want you to remember my hand at your throat. I want you to remember the one who beat you.”
I don’t know about you, but to me it sounds like one hell of a flick!
Posted on July 21, 2013, in Perspectives and tagged Batman, Christian Bale, Christopher Nolan, comic books, commentary, current-events, entertainment, film, news, personal, Spider Man, superheroes, Superman. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.