UPDATE: Ben Affleck has confirmed that he will no longer be directing “The Batman” but will still star in it and serve as producer.
Ben Affleck recently revealed the working title for the solo Batman movie he’s writing, directing, and starring in, and it’s called … The Batman. While some have criticized the title for being rather bland, I personally enjoy its simplicity and how to-the-point it is (it’s a heck of a lot better than the mouthful that is Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice). At any rate, we’re at an interesting time in the hype train cycle for Affleck’s film. We know just enough about it to keep our interest peaked each time there’s a new detail revealed about it, but we can still fill in the blanks with rampant speculation, since very few concrete details are actually known, other than that Deathstroke is one of the villains. With that in mind, here are some characters, plot details, and other elements from the Batman canon that I hope Affleck’s film incorporates when it is released in 2018.
10. More Dry Bat Humor
Batman is a character who should never be featured in a lighthearted movie (unless said movie stars Adam West), but it’s also not ideal to have a Caped Crusader who is unable to crack a joke either. One thing that stands out in the limited amount of footage we’ve seen from Zack Snyder’s Justice League is Batman’s apparent dry sense of humor. Snyder and head of DC movies Geoff Johns have made no secret that they’re trying to make entries in the DCEU a bit more fun and engaging after the overt seriousness and pessimism presented by Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad turned many moviegoers off, and there’s no reason that The Batman can’t continue this trend, albeit in a way that makes sense. No one is asking for a Batman movie where the Dark Knight is as quip happy as say, The Flash, but ditching the DARKNESS, NO PARENTS vibe every now and again is not without its merits.
Although the big rumor right now is that The Batman will incorporate elements from the “A Death in the Family” and “Under the Red Hood” storylines, it would be great if Affleck could find a way to throw Dick Grayson’s Nightwing in there somewhere. As an unabashed Nightwing fan, it pains me that he has yet to make it into a live-action Batman film. I thought we were getting close with Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character in The Dark Knight Rises, but we all know how that turned out. Now that DC is all-in on its interconnected cinematic universe, it’s likely only a matter of time before Nightwing makes his debut, but it would sure be great to see him pop up in The Batman, even if it’s just a cameo.
Oh and while they’re at it, a Barbara Gordon/Batgirl appearance would not go unwelcome either.
8. Show Off His Detective Skills
While Batman v Superman proved that Affleck’s version of the Dark Knight is a force to be reckoned with in hand-to-hand combat, it left something to be desired as far as his detective skills are concerned. Batman not being able to figure out that a supposed crime lord is actually the name of a ship doesn’t sound like the kind of mistake the “World’s Greatest Detective” would make, so it would be nice to see Batfleck show off his brains as well as his brawn in his first solo movie.
Whether or not the powers that be at Warner Bros. realize it, Batman is a superhero admired just as much for his problem-solving capabilities and ability to outsmart his enemies as he is for his proficiency at breaking limbs, and for a Batman movie to be truly special, it needs to depict both sides of the character’s skill set. The Batman should have a central mystery for Batman to solve (for instance, who hired Deathstroke to take him out?) and make use of his detective skills in creative ways to help Affleck’s Batman live up to the title of World’s Greatest Detective.
7. Fill In Some Of The Backstory
In establishing its shared cinematic universe, DC made the bold decision to start out with an older Batman whose best crimefighting days are behind him. While this has proven to be an interesting and entertaining creative decision so far (there’s just something inherently awesome about seeing an older version of Batman lay the smackdown on a room full of goons), being introduced to Batman so late in the game means that we’ve missed out on the first twenty years of his career. Sure, it’s easy enough to put the basics together and formulate a rough outline of Batman’s crime fighting career, but we still don’t know much about the specifics.
The Batman should forge ahead with its own story set in the present, but it should also try and fill in some of the gap’s in Batman’s backstory; whether it’s the status of a famous villain (has Harvey Dent become Two Face in this universe yet?) or another important detail that tells us something about Affleck’s character that we couldn’t possibly know just by getting to know his older self.
6. Introduce (Or Hint At) The Court Of Owls
While it sounds like The Batman is drawing from some older, classic Batman comics, it couldn’t hurt to also incorporate elements from more recent stories too. In particular, Scott Snyder and Greg Capulo’s run on the Batman comics is arguably one of the strongest in the character’s 75+ year history and the Court of Owls is perhaps their greatest contribution to Batman canon. The Court is a secret criminal society that has operated in Gotham City for centuries; think “Illuminati” but with deadly assassins that dress up like owls and you get a pretty good idea of what they’re all about.
The Batman should tease the Court of Owls in some way, setting up an overwhelming threat for Batman to tackle in future movies. It could even go so far as to set up an adaptation of the “Night of the Owls” crossover event pitting Batman and his allies against the Court, which would also serve as a good way to introduce characters like Nightwing, Batgirl, and Robin into the DCEU.
5. Tell An Original Story…But Don’t Be Afraid To Borrow From The Best
When I say tell an original story, I don’t necessarily mean one that shares no similarities to any previous Batman story, as that would be quite the tall order, maybe even impossible. What I would like to see is a Batman story that isn’t bending over backward to appease the fans of certain “untouchable” comics. Batman v Superman technically told an original story, but it was so beholden to “The Dark Knight Returns” and “The Death of Superman” that it killed off Superman simply because that’s what you do when Doomsday’s involved in a Superman movie—not because it made any thematic or logical sense. I’d hate to see The Batman make a similar misjudgment, so if it must borrow heavily from established comic arcs, such as the aforementioned “A Death in the Family” and “Under the Red Hood,” it should do so in service of the story the film is trying to tell and not the other way around.
4. A Better Bruce Wayne
While many people would agree with the sentiment that Ben Affleck’s portrayal of Batman in Batman v Superman was legitimately convincing (that chin tho), his Bruce Wayne left something to be desired. He was serviceable, but there wasn’t really enough there to differentiate his Bruce Wayne persona from his Batman. The best Batman actors tend to play Batman and Bruce as two separate characters; Christian Bale went for an ignorant playboy in his portrayal of the Gotham City Billionaire and it worked so well that it arguably overshadowed his version of Batman, while voice actor Kevin Conroy is known for using using a different voice depending on if he’s performing as Bruce or Batman. Affleck has time to grow into the role before the release of The Batman since he’s portraying the character in Justice League first, but hopefully by the time he gets to his first solo movie, he’s found a way to put his own spin on the Bruce Wayne part of the character to help make his portrayal of Batman truly well-rounded.
3. Make Us Forget About The Dark Knight
Alright, it’s pretty much impossible to forget about Christopher Nolan’s seminal 2008 film, which earned the late Heath Ledger a posthumous Academy Award and is widely considered the greatest comic book movie ever made. What I really mean by saying that The Batman should make us forget about The Dark Knight is that it needs to firmly establish itself as the next evolution of Batman’s cinematic saga.
Nolan’s trilogy will always be revered no matter what happens, but there has to be a point where we stop comparing every DC movie—especially ones involving Batman—to The Dark Knight and just let these new movies do their own thing. How can The Batman set itself apart so as to not be bombarded with comparisons to Nolan’s film? By being a damn good Batman movie, that’s how. And with Affleck at the helm (remember, this is a guy who has a Best Picture Oscar under his belt) there’s certainly a good chance that The Batman could be the best Batman movie this side of The Dark Knight.
2. Leave The Joker Out Of It
This may sound like blasphemy but The Batman should try and omit The Joker completely, especially if Jared Leto is going to continue to play the character going forward. Unfortunately, if the film is going to lean into the Death in the Family/Under the Red Hood story beats, it’s kind of hard not to involve the Clown Prince of Crime in some way, but if Affleck and co. decide to go in a different direction, I sincerely hope it doesn’t involve The Joker.
While I will readily admit that this comes from a personal desire of not wanting to ever see Leto’s version of the character on screen again, I do also think it would be beneficial to wait until a later entry in the franchise to bring in Batman’s arch nemesis. Batman’s rogues gallery goes so much deeper than just The Joker; let some of the other villains have a chance to make an impact and save the Joker stuff for later. After all, we have years and years of Batman films ahead of us; the Joker can wait his turn … and hopefully find a new actor to play him in the process.
1. Make The DCEU Connections Count
While The Batman is being touted as the first solo Batman movie in the newly-established DCEU, you know that it will involve incorporate characters from the rest of the DC universe in some fashion. However, at the end of the day, this is supposed to be a Batman story, so Ben Affleck and Geoff Johns should be smart about which characters they try to throw into it. For instance, while Superman will be one of Batman’s closest allies by the time this film hits theaters (assuming of course that Justice League builds upon their all-too-brief friendship established at the end of Batman v Superman), but that doesn’t mean I want Superman to fly into the middle of a Batman movie. It can be tempting to toss in a reference or cameo just for the hell of it, but if someone like Superman has to make an appearance in this film, it should only be because it’s in service of the story. Otherwise, what’s the point of Batman even having his stories if other heroes can just swoop in at any time and interrupt them?