What does the future hold for Batman, the 'Dark Knight' saga and the Justice League?

By Jeffrey Peterson

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 1 2012 1:00 p.m. MDT

Taking cues from Marvel, rumors suggest that the upcoming Superman film “Man of Steel” will start the process by including hints of an integrated superhero universe — something that was totally out of the question for Nolan’s grounded, real-world take on Batman. As the English filmmaker said in a 2008 interview with the Los Angeles Times, “I don’t think our Batman, our Gotham, lends itself to that kind of cross-fertilization. ... We took the position that ... superheroes simply don’t exist. ... We wanted nothing that would undermine the idea that Bruce (Wayne) came up with this crazy plan of putting on a mask all by himself.”

Nolan’s emphasis on a superhero-free world included changing at least one detail from many popular versions of Batman’s origin story: Instead of attending a screening of “The Mask of Zorro” with his parents, the young Bruce Wayne in 2005’s “Batman Begins” instead goes to the opera to see “Die Fledermaus” — “The Bat.”

However, in order to pave the way for the Justice League, a new Batman will have to learn to coexist with everything from aliens to amazon warriors.

Recent announcements coming from Warner Bros. about other DC characters are consistent with the idea that the studio will try to follow Marvel’s successful formula of standalone films building towards a superhero free-for-all. Along with “Justice League,” screenwriters have been hired for “The Flash” and “Wonder Woman.”

Although no announcements have yet been made, it’s almost guaranteed that a new standalone Batman film will also factor in to the build-up towards a Justice League movie. Especially for audiences unfamiliar with team members like Martian Manhunter and Hawkgirl, after all, Batman’s popularity will be one of the biggest draws. The success or failure of “The Justice League” could depend on whether or not audiences take to the new interpretations of "The Dark Knight" and fellow DC heavyweight Superman.

As for how necessary a reboot really is, a glance through Batman’s comic history reveals one thing pretty clearly: There is no single correct interpretation of "The Dark Knight."

As Nolan said in an interview with Empire Magazine, “When I first met with Paul Levitz of DC Comics prior to ‘Batman Begins’, he explained to me clearly that Batman, of all superheroes, has thrived on reinterpretation and almost is strengthened by it.”

The same idea was expressed by franchise producer Michael Uslan. Speaking with news site Hollywood.com, the man responsible for bringing the Caped Crusader to the big screen and who has produced every Batman movie since 1989, said, “Over the decades, and we’re getting close to 75 years of Batman, there have been so many radically different interpretations of Batman in the comic books themselves, in the way he looks, in the way he’s drawn, in the tone of the piece, it’s gone from vampiric to high-camp humor and silliness to Batman as ‘the super Batman of planet x’ where he fights aliens and giant robots and genies.

"Whenever there was a new editor or new writers brought in, or new artists, things changed. And somehow, the writers, editors, artists, publishers at DC have brought people back every Wednesday since May 1939 to see what’s going to happen next to this character."

A native of Utah Valley and a devoted cinephile, Jeff is currently studying humanities and history at Brigham Young University.

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