The Future of the "Batman" Franchise in Movies
People today probably don't remember this, but Batman used to totally suck before Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy. I'm talking about portrayals in films. Unknown to many is the fact that George Clooney was indeed Batman once upon a time, and his suit had protruding nipples, which was weird to say the least. He has repeatedly apologised for his portrayal of Batman in "Batman and Robin". Back in the day, the comics were the only source of Batman greatness for fans. Then came the '90s and early 2000s. We had a few animated series' like "Justice League" in which Batman was a total badass, among others. Much like Superman after the original film, Batman sucked in cinema portrayals for quite some time.
Until of course Christopher Nolan came along and offered audiences a completely new version and vision for Batman's character arc and the very atmosphere of Gotham city. "Batman Begins" presented fans with a Gotham reeking in corruption, run by degenerate mafia lords and a completely bought off police force. Aside from the title character, Nolan gave greatness to Jim Gordon, a Lieutenant in the GCPD who is desperately trying to fight corruption within the police force, to no avail. Liam Neeson as Ra's al Ghul, Bruce Wayne's mentor, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman as iconic secondary characters Alfred and Lucius Fox respectively; All of these were written in a realistic manner consistent with the gritty, dire and harsh real nature of Gotham city itself. Nolan's films managed to revive the franchise, satisfying many fans of the original comics as well as bringing in a wide swath of new fans to the franchise.
Now, after directing "The Dark Knight Trilogy", Nolan's participation in the Batman franchise pretty much ended. The only tangential connection to the franchise he had after the trilogy was as a producer and writer (story) for Man of Steel, which is now being followed with a sequel titled "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" that apparently will feature The Dark Knight go up against the Man of Steel himself. So what lies ahead for Batman in terms of film portrayals? I don't really know. What I do know, however, is that the future of Batman could very well rely on how good a job Ben Affleck does with the character in "Batman v. Superman". At the very announcement of his casting, many people on the internet set twitter on fire and for some reason didn't want this Academy Award winning person on board this iconic franchise. I can't be alone in thinking how ridiculous the internet can get sometimes. Did he not do a pretty good job on both The Town and Argo? Not just in the directing department, which was truly outstanding and stands out more than his acting, but in the acting department as well? I understand that its always hard for a franchise to find someone to replace an actor for an iconic character, I get that. How do you replace Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones? How do you replace Heath Ledger as the Joker? (Well, with Jared Leto. I hope his Joker is unique and not alike Ledger's.) But how can one just put down someone even before the film comes out! That's the ridiculous part.
People may not know, but even Heath Ledger's casting for the role of the Joker in The Dark Knight drew fire all over the internet. Although the internet was not as big a deal in 2006/07 as it is today, there were a lot of people who thought he'd never be able to fill Jack Nicholson's shoes in this SUPER iconic role. But what we got was an Academy Award winning, and more importantly, a universally loved and iconic performance in the film. So, my point is, don't give an actor crap for a role in a film that is yet to be released. It makes no sense, and in some cases you could be dead wrong. As for me, I'm confident that Ben Affleck will do justice to the role of Bruce Wayne to say the least, whether he will be as memorable as Christian Bale is the question to be answered when the film comes out in March. Beyond that, we'll just have to wait and see what future Batman films go into production. The tangential connection to this would be the Fox television show "Gotham" which centers itself on young Jim Gordon as its protagonist, with a kid Bruce Wayne, kid Selina Kyle, pre-Riddler Edward Nygma pre-Penguin Oswald Cobblepot. Let's hope for the best for the caped crusader!