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Samuel Luckhurst

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Batman Vs Superman Is a Terrible Idea

Posted: 26/07/2013 00:00

Superman Batman

"We're actually not sure whether the title is Superman vs. Batman or Batman vs. Superman but yes, it's that rematch, that combination, the two guys on-screen and that's happening."

Free from the cryptic shackles of Christopher Nolan, David S. Goyer swiftly confirmed that the hotly-anticipated match-up of comic books' greatest superheroes would, as I Am Legend promised, be a behemothic bout.

That Wayne Enterprises satellite General Zod destroyed and the "Keep Calm and Call Batman" sign in Metropolis were Easter Eggs with a dash of the matryoshka doll.

The reaction to the Batman/Superman film literally brought tears to some fans' eyes at Comic-Con on Saturday. A project which previously failed to take off with Wolfgang Petersen at the reins in 2004, it is an aggressive and bold effort by DC Comics to match Marvel's output.

But it is the wrong approach, and as a lifelong fan Batman fan, it is demeaning to the character after three thrilling pictures.

A number of factors have prompted a drastic detour from the usual sequel path. Man of Steel has taken in $600million worldwide when Warner Bros. perhaps expected it to take more. In need of a commercial lift, there is no figure more iconic in the DC - nae, comic - universe than Batman to bolster a franchise.

He has an unrivalled rogues gallery and, via the camp 60s TV show, was firmly imposed on popular culture to the extent that the majority of media outlets shoehorn a tedious "holy" line into a Bat-related story. Christian Bale said, ahead of Batman Begins' 2005 release, "If all the other superheroes were sitting together here in this room, they'd all be getting along fine with each other, but they'd be thinking, 'What's wrong with that dude sitting over there?'" Batman is not a team player.

This is also the beginning of a slew of DC films ahead of a Justice League outing in 2017. The Flash will finally hit screens before the League are teamed together, as Warner Bros. bids to capitalise on the wealth of characters' rights they have stalled on exploiting.

Yet the most crucial factor in the Batman-Superman development is Christopher Nolan's peripheral presence. A producer on Man of Steel who established the story with Goyer, he will be executive producer on the next Batman appearance.

It evokes memories of Tim Burton's executive producer credit on Batman Forever. Compensation for his departure from the franchise after Returns, Burton had no input in Joel Schumacher's garish and camp incarnation of the Caped Crusader, having originally planned to direct Michael Keaton in a third instalment.

Zack Snyder, who helmed Man of Steel, will direct Henry Cavill's Superman again along with a new Batman. He is writing the story with Goyer but Nolan's name was only mentioned in Warner Bros's press release, with a diplomatic remark from Nolan's producer wife Emma Thomas.

Goyer, who co-wrote the Dark Knight trilogy, was the fanboy third of a triumvirate which included Nolan and his brother Jonathan. Essentially, the Nolans oversaw the cinematic tone of the film while Goyer applied his nerdy knowledge of Gotham City to the story.

This is why Goyer and Snyder is an imperfect partnership. Neither have proved their capabilities on a filmic basis, and have instead focus on catering for the fanboy crowd. Ie. nerds who think comic books or graphic novels should be adapted page-for-page.

Goyer and Snyder, screenwriter and director, collaborated closely on Man of Steel, which explains the mixed outcome.

Zig Zag, Goyer's poignant portrayal of an autistic boy, is his sole directorial achievement. He has delivered some terrible turkeys in Blade: Trinity and The Unborn, while Snyder's track record, which includes 300 and Watchmen, guaranteed a lukewarm reception when he was confirmed as Man of Steel's director. Especially when Darren Aronofsky, Duncan Jones and Ben Affleck were all considered two years ago.

Nolan, a cerebral filmmaker responsible for four masterpieces this century, is an essential cog in the DC machine if they want to be known for quality over quantity.

Marvel, meanwhile, are synonymous with quantity, rather than quality. The Avengers was such an enjoyable blockbuster because of the slew of ambivalent pictures which preceded it. Iron Man was promising until the final act, but the sequel was risible. Edward Norton, the titular The Incredible Hulk, was annoyed at the final cut, Thor was an accomplished precursor to the Avengers but Captain America wasn't. All of those films were released within a hectic four-year period.

Nolan was measured with the Dark Knight trilogy. He honed his directing in between the films with The Prestige and Inception, refusing to rush because of box office figures, and the results were exemplary. Few trilogies rival his depiction of Bruce Wayne's story because he saw the pitfalls of churning out franchise films.

There is also the possible premise of Batman vs. Superman/Superman vs. Batman.

It seems like a predictable concept: suspicion in the first act precedes fighting and Kryptonite dodging in the second before they unite for the common good and defeat the deceptive antagonist in the third.

They are two heroes who deserve their own franchises, and Saturday's announcement seems like a bid to mask how relatively disappointing Man of Steel was.

By confirming a 2015 release date, Warner Bros are relishing their own superhero scuffle with the Avengers sequel. But should they stoop so low?

The Avengers assembled because the heroes alone lack a history comparable with Batman or Superman. After the Crucifix, the Superman logo is supposedly the second most recognisable symbol in the world. When the Berlin Wall came down, a man was seen wearing a T-shirt bearing the Bat shield.

That combination, the two guys on-screen, shouldn't be happening.

 

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