The Christopher Nolan Dark Night series is history. Here we are in the months when Warner Bros. are figuring out what to do when the Dark Night rises again. These 7 tips would guarantee a series that’s distinct from the Nolan, and which has a time to entertain us in entirely new, yet pleasantly familiar ways.
1) It’s time to lose the body armor and bring back the cloth. The armored Batman was a fine concession to Christopher Nolan’s highly realistic approach. But Batman has been stiff and slow moving since the Michael Keaton movies. In many ways, Batman himself has been the least impressive thing in the Batman movies. That should change. It’s time for a more athletic Batman, someone who impresses us with his speed and strength. This should be front and center whether Batman is throwing a punch, throwing a Bat-a-rang or leaping out of a building.
2) Make it more toon-like. It’s time for a live-action Batman with white slits for eyes and the cape casting striking shadows against walls. It’s time for Batman to start moving from building to building using hooks and ropes. It’s time for great, memorable action scenes when it’s time for combat. Use the highly-regarded 1990s Warner Bros. cartoon series as a basic template. Also use the more cartoony style of film-making on display in Sin City and 300.
3) Just a thought. A 21st century Batman wouldn’t wait to grow up. A Bruce Wayne who spent his boyhood in the ’90s or ’00s wouldn’t wait to adulthood to become Batman. He’d have started in his early teens as an online crime fighter, making a reputation as the World’s Greatest Detective. Only occasionally, perhaps in recon missions, would he actually put on some sort of cape and cowl and go out into the field.
4) More frequent, cheaper movies. It would be wonderful to see a sense of the episodic return to Batman. Instead of one, three-hour, $180 million-plus movie every few years, let’s see a 90 minute, $80 million dollar movie twice a year. The audience is there, especially if the production team were to reach into some of the truly great, street-level dramas, often centered in Crime Alley. We’ve almost forgotten that most of the criminals Batman catches in his long patrol aren’t supervillains. We’ve also forgotten that most of the time in Batman stories, the whole city isn’t at stake; that many of his stories center on “small people” who few care about, and to whom whatever evil falls will fall upon them only.
5) Revive Robin according to the lines established with the Warner Brothers character. That cartoon series finally got rid of the goofy, embarrassing Robin, and replaced him with a serious young fighting machine. If Hollywood can make a 98-poung Milla Jovovich an awesome onscreen fighter, Hollywood can find the right 15 year-old boy. It might help to make Dick Greyson become Robin on his own terms, only teaming up with Batman later. It also might be nice to see Batman begin to realize that swinging on ropes and punching out the bad guys alongside Robin is something he never expected crime fighting to be – a lot of fun.
6) Attend to the music. The Nolan films effectively underplayed the Wagner-light Danny Elfman score that has set the standard for all Batman films. Let’s anchor the next series in something more like the Neal Hefti ’60s Batman show theme, “reminiscent of spy film scores and surf music.” It’s time to ask “What would Lalo Schifrin do?”
7) Keep villains a little bit tragic. Joker stories are like pieces of candy you find among the nuts and popcorn. Great Batman stories involve villains like Two-Face, Mr. Freeze, or Clay-Face, villains who are as sinned against as sinning, whom Batman is nearly as motivated to rescue as to defeat.
by Todd Jackson