Batman: What Next?

6 Mar

Batman: What next?

Batman is among the most famous of comic-book characters and he is certainly the most written about comic book character in existence. Countless tales involving the Caped Crusader have been woven for over seventy years now. Across film, comics, literature and videogames his story has been told and retold to successive generations.

It is in the medium of film however that Batman now receives his greatest accolades and attention, mainly thanks to the involvement of one Christopher Nolan. The director has reinvented the tale of the Dark Knight for a new millennium. Across Batman Rises and the Dark Knight and helped by an impressive performance from Christian Bale, he has remoulded Batman as a character. Gone is the anti-shark spray and gone are some ridiculous enemies (here’s looking at you Penguin). This version of Batman is dark, sanitised from the wackier realms of imagination and unafraid to philosophise.

This article will speculate as to the story of the next Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises and offer some insight as to what is next for the World’s Greatest Detective.

As has been established, Christopher Nolan isn’t one for frippery; it is presumable that the tone he has established will be continued. So far Tom Hardy has been cast as Bane, Marion Cotillard as Talia Al Ghul, Anne Hathaway as Catwoman and Joseph Gordon Levitt as the Black Mask, (it is less Batman and more Inception 1.5).

So let’s elaborate, Bane is a remarkable choice for a main villain. In Batman and Robin (1997) he was little more than a buffoon, in the comics though, he was a different story altogether. What is remarkable about the Batman universe, or at least the Nolanverse, is that very few villains can match Batman in a one-on-one conflict. Bane in every incarnation has been a muscle-bound, hyper-intelligent wrestler-a-like man. When first introduced in the 1990’s he broke open Arkham Asylum (like a gothic Alcatraz for all of Batman’s foes) and left Batman to clean up the mess. By the end (two months later) Batman was physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted. In that time Bane had figured out his secret identity as Bruce Wayne and had also discovered the Batcave. He waited there and when Batman arrived, he promptly snapped his spine, crippling Batman.

The seriousness of this in the comic book universe is easy to overstate. Death is a recurring theme in comic books, however it is never an obstacle when you have parallel dimensions, magic, demonic bargains and all sorts of other avenues back to the realms of the living. However, presuming Bane performs a similar stunt on Nolan’s Batman, this would be a big deal. With no magic to heal or revive him, all injuries would be permanent.

Now we move on to Talia Al Ghul. The devoted daughter of Ra’as Al Ghul (Liam Neeson in Batman Begins) she is portrayed as an excellent hand-to-hand combatant and capable with advanced weaponry. What is intriguing about her is that she has been a recurring love interest of Batman’s throughout the comics for a number of years. In some stories she even bears him a son, Damien Wayne. It is more than likely that she’ll arrive looking for Batman’s blood, while this may seem slightly cliché, Nolan’s movies, while often bearing unconventional themes, often have conventional plotlines. He killed her father, so she arrives to kill Batman.

As for Anne Hathaway, she is a somewhat leftfield choice for the character, it can be assumed that she’ll perform well in the role, but whether she can quite perfect the mixture of sex appeal and danger that make Catwoman unique is yet to be seen. At least it isn’t Halle Berry in the role. Nolan’s Catwoman will presumably be a million miles from either a Burton-esque feline resurrection or a (rubbish) moisturiser transformation. However she comes into existence though, one thing is important, in the comics, Catwoman and Batman have the hots for each other, (it seems as though Bruce Wayne, whether Batman or not, has dated every woman under the sun). It has been speculated that Batman might be missing at the start of the movie and that she might fill the void left by him, presumably not using his non-lethal methods however

Our last character to analyse is that of the Black Mask. The Black Mask is one of the lesser known Batman villains. He basically performs the same role as that of the Kingpin in Spiderman, that is to say he is the lord of all organised crime in Gotham. In the Dark Knight, the Joker makes something of a mess of the organised crime bosses. It is presumable that either in the period between the films, or the speculated absence of Batman, that the Black Mask will arrive and take over all crime in Gotham. The Black Mask is notable in that (at least in the comic books) as the result of a childhood accident, his face was horribly deformed and closely resembles a pitch-black skull. It can be assumed that such an unlikely injury will not be present in the Nolanverse, rather the black skull will be an actual mask. The Black Mask will probably be the villain equivalent of Batman, wearing the mask to hide his true identity so he can keep up appearances as a ‘respectable’ business man. The Black Mask is also significant to Batman since he was a figure his youth, they were both boyhood play pals as their parents were friends.

Given this analysis, the story may go a little something like this: Batman is absent from Gotham, undertaking either a personal mission, or taking a break from being Batman, or being so disenchanted with the image of Batman that he cannot make himself don the black cowl. Nonetheless he is also in mourning, both for his love Rachel Dawes and lawman Harvey Dent.  In his absence and in Bruce Wayne’s withdrawal from public life, the city has gotten much worse. Crime plagues the street and organised gang activity is on the rise due to the appearance of a new shadowy figure, nothing much is known of him, except that he wears a Black Mask. Attacks become more frequent and violent. As a result of this a new champion of the people arrives, Catwoman, however she is no patch on the man she replaced. With ambiguous morals she steals as much as she saves. It is into this chaotic situation that Batman returns. He quickly sets things on the path to recovery, the Black Mask’s thugs are useless against him, and his operations are greatly disrupted. Bruce Wayne resumes his public life, however a mysterious new woman has appeared on the Gotham social scene, intelligent, charming and beautiful she soon works her way into his heart. After this happens, Catwoman also encounters Bruce Wayne, this time as Batman. He attempts to force her chaotic ways, but soon her seductive ways prove too much for him and they end up romantically linked also. Emotionally fragile since the death of Rachel he enters into this unusual love triangle. Each of his women don’t know of the alter egos, Catwoman of Bruce Wayne and Talia of Batman. He is forced to ask the question, is Batman the mask for Bruce Wayne, or is Bruce Wayne the mask for Batman?

Meanwhile, the Black Mask has become ever more impatient and in his hysteria decides to bring someone in to kill Batman. Whom he chooses to perform this task is none other than Bane, a hulking figure with a formidable intellect. Bane enters the fray and soon Batman is on the run for his life…

Whether this is or is not the case is yet to be seen, however it is presumable within the bounds of logic that it may be.

Research for this article was based around graphic novels. It is highly recommended that you read some of these if you plan to conduct research yourself, excellent examples include, Year One, The Killing Joke and Arkham Asylum.

As for what happens next to Batman, who knows? Christopher Nolan has plainly and authoritatively stated that he has no interest in directing another Batman film, especially with sequels to Inception in the works along with his involvement in the new reboot of the Superman franchise. How the story pans out is heavily dependent on the director. The films have made too much money not to see another picture produced. A new director would most likely remove the existing cast, (they are all going to be in Inception 2 anyway) and reinvent the origins of Batman once again.

It is needless to say that Batman will always continue to exist, so long as the character is reinvented.


2 Responses to “Batman: What Next?”

  1. Ipodman March 6, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

    Great post and nice “prediction” of The Dark Knight Rises. Hopefully Chris Nolan can create a movie that tops his previous Bat films.

    • Sean March 6, 2011 at 9:42 pm #

      I sincerely hope so as well. It will be many a moon before the Batman franchise has such an auteur behind the wheel again.

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