Sunday, August 18, 2013

Movie Break - DC's $50 Million Mistake aka Christian Bale and Other Dead Horses

     If you stop and think about Christopher Nolan's Batman Trilogy, only The Dark Knight stands out, due in part to the phenomenal performance from Heath Ledger, as well as the swell of support following his tragic death.

Batman Begins built a solid frame for the rest of the trilogy, but was nothing special. It introduced the realism Nolan was going for with his take on Batman, and hit the basics of what the character is.

Bruce Wayne, playboy by day, vigilante crime fighter by night, driven by the death of his parents as well as the sea of corruption known as Gotham City, he is the incorruptible beacon, setting the example for the people of the city.

Maybe it isn't laid out so obviously as that, but the concepts are there.

The Dark Knight was so acclaimed because of the powerful performances from both Ledger as Joker and Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent/Two-Face, more so than the action or the story.

I've spent far too much time trying to convey my issues with The Dark Knight Rises, but there is a nagging issue with the trilogy that is largely overlooked because of the scope of the series.

Christian Bale is a great actor, and I love his performances in American Psycho and The Fighter. In terms of physicality, and commitment to a role, Bale is among the best.

However, Nolan's trilogy, which is more character study than superhero action series, is scant on actual character development. Bale has no opportunity to really ACT in the capacity he has been praised for.

Aside from some passing references in the first two movies, we don't get enough Bruce Wayne or Batman. Or at least we don't get enough to really care about the balancing act. Anyone with half a brain could have put together than Bruce Wayne is Batman, so the basic premise is betrayed because the characters are inherently stupid.

Case and point: James Gordon aka Commissioner Gordon. It takes him almost the entire trilogy to figure out that Bruce Wayne is Batman, and he's supposed to be one of the best cops Gotham City has.

Maybe when they said best they were only referring to his incorruptibility...

To the point, the gravelly-voiced Bale served his purpose in Nolan's Batman trilogy. I do not feel it is necessary to bring him back for more Batman, which is precisely what they're doing now... Sort of...

You see, Man of Steel is Nolan's, sorry Zack Snyder's, treatment of Superman, intended to do for the character what Nolan did for Batman.

I've stated my case as to why Man of Steel is not particularly good, but the powers-that-be (and not the ones from Angel) have already put the wheels in motion for a sequel.

Man of Steel 2, which I'm assuming is a working title, will feature Superman and Batman, almost in time for people to scurry back to find clips and stills of the Batman/Superman movie billboard from I Am Legend from 2007.

Is a Batman/Superman crossover a cool idea? Absolutely. Does Christian Bale need to be brought back to don the cape and cowl once again? No.

The basic problem that arises in the event of Bale appearing as Batman in Superman's sequel, beyond just the difference in star power, since more people know Bale than Cavill, is the difference in the universes.

Nolan's Batman is very realistic, to an extent. The villains are essentially average people who have been driven off the deep end and take matters into their own hands.

The Nolan/Snyder Superman cannot, therefore, exist in the same world as Nolan's Batman.

Everything is down to earth and gritty, while Superman, by nature, is out of this world and comes with a more bright feel. A man who can fly, has heat vision, super strength, etc. is a figure of wonder.

If you bring together a terrestrial hero, in a world devoid of wonder and magic and aliens, with an extraterrestrial hero, in a world with hope and superpowers, there is bound to be a bit of a disconnect.

With Bale, the series takes a step back into the darkness of Nolan's universe, rather into the future that DC would like to create to compete with the ever expanding Marvel Universe, which is headed for a second Avengers movie Age of Ultron, Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Ant-Man.

DC doesn't have their own film department, and are relying on Nolan to work magic after creating a sort of universe roadblock with his Batman trilogy.

Bringing back Bale shows a lack of faith in Cavill or anyone else to carry the character or the universe into a bigger, better and brighter future. The nod to Joseph Gordon-Levitt at the end of The Dark Knight Rises is rendered useless in addition to inane if he or someone else doesn't take over as Batman in the future.

And what of the way Nolan finished his trilogy?

John Blake/Robin is made out to be Bruce Wayne's successor as Batman, since Batman supposedly died in the blast, and Bruce Wayne is conveniently forgotten in the liquidation of his assets and left to gallivant with Selina Kyle in some cafe across the pond.

If Bruce Wayne returns, not only does it muddy the waters in a purported Superman/Batman team-up/crossover, but it neuters the impact Nolan was aiming for with his final opus.

Sadly, DC and all parties involved should start from scratch, or at least scrap the crossover.

If the ultimate goal is a Justice League movie to rival the Avengers movies, they need to establish their characters before they have them interacting directly.

Man of Steel had enough nods to LexCorp and a nod to Bruce Wayne to generate interest in the interactions of their worlds. They don't have to thrust the Dark Knight back into the mix so soon.

As many issues that I have with Nolan's "universe" I would welcome a well done crossover, or at least a clear path to a Justice League movie. The Man of Steel sequel/crossover will likely make a metric f*ckton of money, but that doesn't mean it is a worthwhile endeavor the way they're currently approaching it.

Prepare for a disappointing movie. If we're lucky, it will be so disappointing that DC will pull its head out of Nolan's *ss and put together a competent crew to tackle their vastly complex and delicately balanced universe.

Don't hold your breath though...

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