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Dark Nights Ahead: TDK Trilogy vs. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Written by Robert Porter

2016 is shaping up to be a big year for DC Comics’ cinematic universe with the release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad drawing near. Personally, I took no real issue with Ben Affleck being cast as Batman considering he is a fan of the source material, and I think Jared Leto was the best possible choice to play the Joker in Suicide Squad, hands down. I am super excited for both movies, being a true DC fanboy, so I thought I’d take a look back at the Christopher Nolan trilogy of Batman films and speculate upon what we might expect from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

There is a fundamental problem with TDK Trilogy in my opinion, which stems from the supposed “real world” take on the Batman mythos. The films work very well cinematically, and while they are widely considered to be a triumph of filmmaking, I believe that we as fans deserve a better Batman movie. Now technically speaking, someone with vast wealth, resources, and training could potentially become a Batman-like vigilante, so the character does lend itself to a real world interpretation (although, having an insert-superhero-name-here-mobile might be pushing it a bit). Yet, I feel that when it goes too far in the direction of realism, some of what makes Batman so interesting gets lost.

Take for example an element of Batman that was missing from TDK Trilogy: Batman, the scientist. It was a little disappointing to me that this aspect of the character was not explored more fully in those films. There is a scene in Batman Begins where, after Batman is poisoned by Scarecrow, Lucius Fox synthesizes the antidote for him. It gives Fox’s character something more to do in the film, but I always enjoyed seeing Batman create various antidotes in the Bat Cave, often in the nick of time. I’m one of those fans who likes Batman to be obsessive in all his pursuits while being somewhat unstoppable (Bat-God?). I hope we get to see more of Batman’s scientific ability in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The suit that Batman is wearing in the teaser trailer may be indicative of that, so let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Other aspects of Batman that I think need a complete overhaul, or perhaps just a return to form in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, are the locales. I always believed that Gotham City was sort of its own character. It has a vibe about it, and the cast of characters that we encounter in the comics and in some of the movies reflect that very well. In my opinion, the “narrows” portion of Gotham City in Batman Begins best represents the bleak, unforgiving city that Batman has sworn to protect. Its visage symbolizes the very nature of his crusade: war without end. Unfortunately, we never really get to see too much of it during the course of TDK Trilogy; instead we are treated to, admittedly gorgeous, shots of Chicago. Seems kind of bland when you consider Scarecrow and the Joker are skulking around somewhere, but I supposed that’s just what Nolan was going for with his interpretation, for better or for worse.

And speaking of war, what would Batman be without his war room? The Bat Cave is something that I felt was lacking in the Nolan films, and which I hope is better utilized in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. In Tim Burton‘s Batman, we got a nice look at Batman’s computer station, complete with several monitors that do…various…things, but the cave in TDK Trilogy suffered from the very same ailment that many aspects of those films suffer from: trying to keep it too real. It just seemed boring to me, and once again I am reminded of the scientific aspect of Batman that was ignored in those films. Although, I always felt that the scene in Batman Begins where Wayne Manor is destroyed and Bruce and Alfred are forced to retreat to the cave was one of the finest moments in TDK Trilogy. It symbolized Bruce’s final descent into something primal and instinctive, with the ruin of his former life left scattered and in flames.

What I’m excited about with the direction DC decided to take for their cinematic universe is that they started it off with a Superman movie. You’d be hard-pressed to tell a compelling story about the boy scout in blue in what some call a “real world” setting; it wouldn’t really work. In Man of Steel, we are introduced to a world that doesn’t necessarily follow the trappings of the reality that we know and experience every day, which I believe is a world where Batman will thrive alongside the likes of characters such as Superman and Wonder Woman. Zack Snyder has proven his ability, at least in my opinion, to be able to direct actors fairly well. Watchmen was a good example, and I have confidence that he will be able to manage Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman interacting with one another successfully on screen. Further, I think the overall aesthetic of Watchmen could potentially translate quite well into the mainstream world of DC Comics’ superheroes; it should be dark, but at the same time grand and leaning over the edge of the unbelievable. I’m not saying that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice should look cartoony, but I think it would benefit from just a little otherworldliness.

Lastly, if the teaser trailer is any indication of what can be expected from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, we will be seeing a strong influence from Frank Miller‘s The Dark Knight Returns, which gets me all kinds of excited since it remains one of my favorite Batman stories to date. At least one thing is for sure, they managed to nail Batman’s look in the upcoming film.

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(dat costume doe)

What do you think? Will Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice improve on what we have seen so far from Batman cinematically, or will it fall into obscurity and be forsaken and quickly forgotten by hordes of Bat-Fans everywhere? Let us know in the comments section and on our Twitter page!

About the author

Robert Porter