In the wake of the Ben Affleck / The Batman saga, Samuel Brace suggests two ways to make Batman great again…
Batman is awesome. We all know this. And it’s endlessly sad to see the series of unfortunate events surrounding the much-anticipated, and much reported upon, Ben Affleck solo Dark Knight film — The Batman. The rumours that it would be set in Arkham Asylum were exciting, the fact we were going to get more Batman – the only appealing part of Batman v Superman and the entire DCEU so far – was comforting. Ben Affleck has done a perfectly adequate job as Bruce Wayne so far, so the majority are obviously on board for more of this and less of that other less desirable stuff. But given all the hoopla, the trials and tribulations of bringing this project to screen – a project that should be relatively simple – we need to look at what needs to be done. There are ways to smooth this all out; there are ways to course correct, there are ways, 2 of them in fact, to make Batman great again.
1) Simplify, simplify, simplify
The beauty of Batman is that he’s just a guy, a guy with supreme determination – and an asinine amount of cash – to rescue his city from corruption and immorality. He uses this determination, coupled with the aforementioned cash, to act in two ways. One, he enacts certain business ventures, two, he circumvents the law and the city’s corrupt police force and takes justice into his own hands. It’s not all that preposterous, it doesn’t need to involve a myriad of (or any) fantastical elements, one can picture this world without an insane suspension of imagination. So hey, guys who make the talking pictures, just run with this.
DC doesn’t need to make a Batman film to be successful; it just needs to make a crime film starring Batman. This has been done before to great success – see The Dark Knight – and it can be done again. It can be so incredibly simple, all the story needs to be is something like this:
The closest friend and ally of billionaire Bruce Wayne – an elderly man named Alfred – is kidnapped by a band of violent thugs who want to blackmail Bruce for ***insert reason X***.
Wayne, not a man to negotiate with criminals, sends in his alter ego, a crime fighting vigilante named Batman. Batman takes on the criminal gang in order to save his friend. The end.
There, that wasn’t hard was it? The details can be added but the crux of the story doesn’t need to be complicated, and it certainly doesn’t have to be burdened with the overwhelming weight and baggage of an extended DC universe. There can subtle, and I stress SUBTLE, easter eggs, but the film needs to be a film, one that works by itself, one that works for itself, one that entertains on its own merits. By making an exciting, well written, well directed and acted thriller about a man desperate to save his friend by any means necessary – and by adding the intriguing component of a masked vigilante – a solo Batman film can not only be profitable but something of considerable quality.
2) Consider going nuclear
There have been two recent films in the DCEU. Both have made lots and lots of money but both have been disastrous movies. Now, one can enjoy these movies while also having the intellectual honesty of being able to acknowledge that these are not good films. This is fine, and you can read more about how you can hate a film but still admit it is good, and love a film but still admit it is bad, right here. DC have a couple more chances to change minds and hearts this year, Wonder Woman and Justice League are on the way , but if they should fail once again, and we have no evidence to suggest otherwise, there needs to be some tough and frank discussions.
DC will need to consider how much good will they want to use up by producing less than desirable products. They will need to consider if they want to continue on their current course or venture into a future that can both be profitable and critically rewarding. Fans want to see things they like, yes, of course they do, but fans also want to see things that are good. You don’t have to pick one at the expense of the other. Why not have both? Why not make a film about Batman while also making a great movie? Why not blow the whole thing up and just go nuclear.
If the future turns out to be as dire as it seems it will be, why not just hit that reset button and start again? Go back to the drawing board, take your time, gather around a table and say, “Hey guys, let’s get this really awesome director and see if he would like to direct a crime thriller about Batman?”
Said film doesn’t need to be leading to anything but if people like it perhaps they can consider making another film of a similar ilk. No pressure. No universe building expectations. Just a film, a film about a vigilante that people love, and hopefully the film is good.
No one wants reboots, we are all sick of them, especially in quick succession. But you have to analyse the situation in front of you and take the appropriate course. If the next two films fail, there will be two options available: scrap the whole thing and just concentrate on comics and animated productions, or have a break and go again, but this time with your thinking caps on and the aim of making an excellent film and not a universe to compete with Marvel’s. Sure, make your money, that can be done, but doesn’t have to be done by doing what Marvel has accomplished. Why would you want to? The MCU is fine but you know… it’s not particularly interesting. So do something different, something unique, make one film, make a great one if you can, and bathe in the warm glow of audience adoration while raking in piles of well-earned money.