As DC and their owners, Warner Bros, try and try again to launch franchises off DC’s extensive comic book line up, they’ve failed to generate anything beyond Batman and Superman. Part of the problem lays in their inability to line-up the right talent. Poor scripts, lackluster direction and miscasting of the leads –which seemed designed to favor of flavor-of-the-month actor versus someone capable of holding an audience, even ones made up of ADHD teenagers.
And with upstart Marvel having stolen the superhero franchises out from older DC’s noses, the people who run both the comic studio and Warners, are struggling to find where they fit in –and whether the audience will tolerate two studios offering multiple, dueling superhero franchises.
The only two franchises with a proven track record are the after mentioned Superman and Batman. Yet both, more Superman than Batman, have found a difficult road to resurrection. After four Christopher Reeve starring Superman films (and with only the first two actually succeeding), the franchise sat dormant until Bryan Singer was brought in to help re-launch it in 2006. While Superman Returns has merits, it failed to light up the box office. Part of it was a weak script –even though I liked the idea of connecting it to the first two films (and thus ignoring Superman III and IV)- the miscasting of Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane and (surprisingly) stale performance from Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor and a meandering script that made little sense, doomed it. Warners went back to the drawing boards, and now in 2013, we’ll see if they’ve achieved something than
Batman went through the same problems, producing an excellent first film, a stylish film-nior with a surprisingly good performance from Michael Keaton and a dandy role for the always outlandish Jack Nicholson. Then there was the creatively bit weaker second film –with a creepy villain that got overshadowed by an even creepier Christopher Walken and then there’s Michelle Pfeiffer’s naughty Catwoman. And then from there, the franchise went off the rails into outlandishness that ruined what came before.
But when Christopher Nolan resurrected the franchise in 2005 with Batman Begins, he choose a more serious actor –a method one at that (which I’m sure WB was worried about)- and gave us a bit more of complex script and sort of returned the franchise –at least style wise- to the first Tim Burton film made in 1989. It’s only flaw may have been the poor casting choice of Katie Holmes, who’s blank and emotionless face was a bit distracting and Liam Neeson’s dull and very obvious turn as the villain. The Dark Knight –when analyzed makes little sense- but it was saved by Heath Ledger’s scene stealing performance through-out. When Nolan’s trilogy concluded last summer, the big question for DC and the WB is: what now?
The Man of Steel is designed to reboot the Superman franchise, and smartly, the WB brought in Nolan to serve as producer/zen master to uneven director Zac Synder. Word from not only the WB –which seems to be something to take with a grain of salt- but outside the confines of that studio is that Man of Steel will succeed where Superman Returns failed.
But, again, what is next?
After a string of forgettable Warner Bros films based on DC property, and after the huge success of Marvel’s The Avengers, someone with in both WB and DC said that the long-planned Justice League film would finally get off the ground, and announced a nebulous 2015 release. But soon it appeared, that JL film seemed doomed, as word broke that screenwriter’s Will Beall script was all but “terrible” and had left the project. Also, DC and WB could not decide on a director as well, so now it looks like the 2015 release year is probably not likely going to happen.
Now a new wrinkle has surfaced as Latino Review – a site known to be reliable when it comes getting scoops- has said Warner Bros has brought in Christopher Nolan to shepherd the Justice League film just as he did with the upcoming Man of Steel. While Nolan would will neither write nor direct that film (he could become DC’s version of Marvel’s Kevin Feige, I guess) he would undoubtedly help produce the long gestating project that still appears to be high on both studios to-do list. The site says that it’s a good chance Synder would helm the Justice League film that would feature Henry Cavill’s Superman and, apparently, Christian Bale’s return as Batman. Bale has never fully ruled out a return to Batman, but said he’d only do so if Christopher Nolan was involved. But since Bale respects Nolan, and if the director can add his distinctive hand-print to a JL film, I can see a potential return of Bale as Batman.
If all of this is true –and no word has yet to come from Warner Bros- the 2015 release date could be possible –there also a suggestion that David Goyer may now write the script. But how Bale’s return as Batman is explained based on the finale of The Dark Knight Rises and where Man of Steel 2 sits is still unknown as well.
The best that can be said now is: to be continued…