Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Batman Movie Franchise Reboot

On the off chance Michael Uslan or the powers that be at Warner Brothers may be reading my blog, here is I would like to see when Warner Brothers reboots the Batman movie franchise in the next few years.

First, on the fast track to a 2015 release, I'd like to see "Batman Triumphant".  It would be the third chapter of the unfinished Burton-Keaton trilogy, heavily inspired by and based upon Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns graphic novel.  The story needs to be streamlined to fit in a single two-hour movie and to better follow the continuity of Batman and Batman Returns. Tim Burton would return as director, from a script by Sam Hamm (with perhaps some tweaking or revisions by Wesley Strick).  Danny Elfman would return to compose the score.
Michael Keaton would return as The Batman,

Jack Nicholson as the Joker,

Michelle Pfeiffer as Selina Kyle,

and Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent.

The story should open on Alfred Pennyworth's funeral, with Bruce at the grave.  It would be revealed Bruce quit being Batman some fifteen years earlier when Commissioner Gordon was shot and killed, with Batman blaming himself.  The current Commissioner, Ellen Yindel, seems ineffective with the rising crime rate in Gotham.  From there we stick close to the graphic novel, with rising crime by punk gang members and muggers during a heat wave, Bruce becoming increasingly uneasy, resulting in him reemerging as The Batman.  As Batman battles the punk gang members and the "cured" Dent, Carrie should be brought in quicker, since Alfred and Gordon are gone, and Bruce needs someone to confide in (Selina's role most likely would also be made larger than it was in the graphic novel).  As in the graphic novel, the Joker emerges from his catatonic state when news reports of Batman appear.  Again, follow the graphic novel with the Joker's break for freedom and resulting crime wave, and Batman and Robin's attempt to stop him, as Yindel sends in forces to bring in Batman, while the media debates Batman's vigilantism. After the Joker's suicide, the cops' battle with Batman should be the film's finale (replacing the battle with Superman).  Likewise, since Christopher Nolan co-opted the "Bruce fakes his death" ending for The Dark Knight Rises, this version needs to come up with a new ending. What, I don't know... if I did, I'd write the script myself and get signed to a WB deal.

A few years later, in 2019, the 80th anniversary of Batman, and the 30th anniversary of the first Tim Burton film, the full reboot I call "Legend of The Batman", or perhaps simply "The Batman" should be slated for release.  This would be a completely new take, yet still embraces the best aspects of other versions, incorporating them into it.  From the Nolan movies, the only aspect I would want to see retained is the well planned and choreographed action sequences. Nolan did raise the bar in that regard in The Dark Knight, and the film makers need to strive reach that quality.

From the Tim Burton movies, I'd like to see the aspect of The Batman being a character shrouded in mystery return. No need to over explain every detail.  No need for Batman to give long monologues in a ridiculous frog voice or to have his own version of James Bond's Q.  Michael Keaton's portrayal of The Batman should be the foundation on which the new actor cast should build his interpretation on. Also from the Burton movies, I'd like to see Gotham City be more unique, and less of a doppelganger for Chicago. I'm not saying Anton Furst's Gotham should be recreated as it would be for the Batman Triumphant concept, but Gotham should be its own unique hellish city, not just generic Chicago or New York location shooting.  Stylistically dark.

I want to see a real Batmobile.  No more Tumbler.  It would be cool to see the classic 1950 Batmobile from the comics brought to life for the first time.  It kind of looks like a bat-themed hearse, which would be a great visual.

On the other hand, there is the standard that the Batmobile needs to be the ultimate muscle car, following in the tire tracks of the 1966 and 1989 models.  I'd be happy with either of those choices.

I want to see the Batcave.  Nolan's films had so little Batcave,  just the entrance with the waterfall.  That's all we ever saw it seems.  There's no need to go full blown into the comics with the giant penny and dinosaur, but it needs to be more defined and detailed than what we have seen in the recent movies.

I believe there are also some aspects of the Adam West TV series that can be utilized.  Well, at least from the pilot episode, Hi Diddle Riddle/Smack In The Middle.  The pilot episode had a sense of excitement, of fun, of daring adventure, and a photography style, that if divorced from camp and grafted onto a serious take of Batman, could really supercharge it.

That brings us to the plot.  I'd like to see the movie set a few weeks after Dick Grayson becomes Robin.  A pre-credits sequence could quickly recap Batman and Robins' origins.  The actor to be cast as the Boy Wonder should actually be a 14 or 15 year old kid. He should use as a foundation for his interpretation of the character the Douglas Croft version from the 1943 serial: a quick witted, wise cracking daredevil who is competent and resourceful. I'd like to see the Riddler be the main villain, with The Penguin as a secondary villain, portrayed as Gotham's top mob boss, perhaps incorporating the idea of him owning a popular night club as a front. Not a sewer dwelling mutant, this Penguin should be an aristocrat of crookery who knows how to live the good life. This movie should highlight Batman as a detective, something that has been ignored or only slightly touched on in every movie to date. With the Riddler as villain, it is the perfect opportunity for a great mystery and detective work.  The actor cast as Edward Nigma should echo Frank Gorshin's definitive performance, yet still bring some deadly menace to the role.  I'd also like to see some classic style deathtraps for Batman and Robin to escape from, reviving their titles of world's greatest escape artists, another aspect neglected in the recent movies.

For Batman's costume, I'm guessing the standard rubber suit will be retained, but I do not want to see all the padding and over done plates from the Nolan movies.  Go back to a simpler, less detailed design, like in Batman Returns or even the "panther suit" from Batman Forever, just minus the nipples. I'd also like to see the navy blue and gray color scheme return, along with mirrored lenses in the eye slits, thus removing the need for Batman to wear eye makeup.  The chest logo should be black and large, without the yellow oval. 

For Robin, stick close to the original design, albeit in rubber, and just extend the short sleeves and trunks to long sleeves and long pants.  Alter the gloves to black for contrast and to match the mask, and change the green elf shoes to black boots.

My pick would be for definitive Batman writer Steve Englehart to co-write the script with my choice for director.  To direct... okay, I know this will get a lot of jeers... Frank Miller.  I know a lot of "fans" have turned on him in recent years, but the fact remains he is the author of two of the most popular Batman arcs of all time, he redefined Batman in a way that is still being felt to this day, and he is actually a good, visual director.  The Spirit looked good, even if the script was crap.  But we would have Englehart to make sure the script is good.  Just imagine, a Batman movie done by two of the best Batman comic book creators, Miller and Englehart.

I do think it should be carved in stone that this franchise continue on and on, like the original James Bond franchise, before it rebooted with Casino Royal. The second film could move the Penguin into the spotlight as main villain. The third film could introduce the Joker.  At some point, there needs to be a Joker-Penguin team up, something we've been cheated out of in Batman movies so far.

1 comment:

Gernot said...

I would say Freak Miller is the author of two of the most CONTROVERSIAL Batman stories of the past 20+ years more than POPULAR. ;)