Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Batman Reboot: When an unstoppable force meets an immovable object

For those of you in the dark, Warner Bros. is now planning a Batman reboot in conjunction with a planned answer to The Avengers Justice League movie.  It won't be helmed by current franchise director Christopher Nolan either, but Nolan will remain on as producer.  The oddest part of this amalgam of superheros poised to save the day in Justice League is that none of the notable characters--Batman, Superman, or Wonder Woman--will be a continuation off current projects featuring said characters.  No Wonder Woman from her yet-to-premier NBC show.  No Superman from Zack Snyder's upcoming film.  And most importantly, no Christian Bale as Batman.  That's right, the actor and hero that saved a genre is being rebooted at the conclusion of The Dark Knight Rises.

It's the unstoppable force of the studio meeting the immovable object of creative integrity.  It's clear: the studio wants more and Nolan is walking away after film #3.  Can't really blame him, lest he forever be known as the director of Batman.  He's young, can do anything he wants right now in his career, and he have proven he can make his films both bankable at the box office and the Oscars.  Plus, a director returning for the fourth film in a franchise can only be as ill-fated as Indiana Jones 4, right?  Thankfully, WB is keeping Nolan on (or, possibly, Nolan is choosing to stay on) as producer of Justice League and the Batman reboot, which makes us assume he'll still have creative control.  But does he really want creative control outside of the world you created?  Nolan has the chance to close out a trilogy the right way, and not Warner Bros. wants to say "thank you, but no," to the reputation and respect he has injected not only into Batman, but superhero films in general. 

When an unstoppable force
meets an immovable object
Now, I have a slight problem with that.  For starters, The Dark Knight Rises isn't even out yet.  Not only is it not even out, but they haven't even begun principle photography!  Why is Warner Bros. giving up on Nolan's vision of the caped crusader already?  Could Batman be that potential of a cash cow that they think people will pour in to see the character no matter what creative team or actor is on board?  One can attribute the financial success of 2008's The Dark Knight to many things: the high quality of the film, the high-grossing superhero genre, and the recent passing (and brilliant performance) of Heath Ledger.  One of those elements returns, with a second one hopeful for The Dark Knight Rises.

I think what is most notable with the prematurely announced reboot (that is, a reboot before the franchise is even done booting) is that Warner Bros. is doing it less out of greed and more out of necessity.  Why reboot a blockbuster franchise staring an Oscar-winner unless you absolutely have to?  Perhaps the immovable object of creative integrity isn't as immovable as we'd hoped: it's being trampled, in fact.  I'm thinking, momentarily at least (and probably reading too much into this announcement), that Nolan is killing off our watchful protector.  A dead hero means you'll have to reboot.  Maybe I'm just being a little too...serious.


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