Batman & Warner Bros. – What Comes Next?

I still remember anxiously waiting in line at the movie theater during June of 1989. It was the weekend for Tim Burton’s “Batman”, a movie I had been anxiously waiting for. Warner Bros. had done an excellent job building up the film in an era (unlike now) with no easy access to the internet and other modern methods of promotion. The film was a huge success and it ended up raking in over $400 million dollars. After it came “Batman Returns” in 1992 – a movie that had its moments but still fell terribly short of the first film both in quality and in money earned. Joel Schumacher took over the franchise with 1995’s “Batman Forever” and although the box office take went up, the quality went down even more. Schumacher then finished his execution of that Batman series with the hideous “Batman and Robin”, a movie that made considerably less money and remains completely unwatchable.

After a lengthy layoff, Warner Bros. brought Batman back in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, a series that has already been heavily discussed on this blog. The Warner approach was a good one – place the character in the hands of a capable visual and intellectual storyteller and let him share his own vision of the Dark Knight. It worked wonderfully both in terms of box office revenue and the quality of the films. For my money, the Nolan trilogy features the greatest superhero story ever told on film and it’s a rousing cinematic accomplishment.

But now Nolan is done. “The Dark Knight Rises” has hit the theaters and once again Warner Bros. has no strong chess piece on the superhero movie board. “The Man of Steel” is due out next year but we all know how their last attempt at bringing back Superman went. I was a fan of that picture up until the end where Bryan Singer and company completely blew the entire film. “Green Lantern” was the studio’s most recent attempt at getting another major superhero franchise going. And while I enjoyed parts of the movie, it was a cramped and poorly conceived story that both fanboys and casual moviegoers couldn’t latch on to.

So the question remains, what’s next? Warner Bros. and DC Comics are both desperate to tap into some of the success that Marvel Studios has had through a series of highly successful and genuinely good superhero flicks. And while “The Man of Steel” is on the horizon, questions certainly remain about it. Other DC Comics properties are in the works but let’s face it, now that Batman is gone, Warner Bros. doesn’t have a single heavy-hitting superhero film franchise to call their own. And when it comes down to it, Batman has been shown to be the studio’s anchor in the genre. So when Batman returns (and he most certainly will return), my advice would be to follow in the footsteps of the Dark Knight trilogy not in terms of the story but in how the studio approaches it. Find a creative visionary – someone with a unique but intelligent visual storytelling style – and let them share their vision. But (and this is a huge but) they had better choose wisely.

6 thoughts on “Batman & Warner Bros. – What Comes Next?

  1. From what I heard at Comic-Con, Keith, they’re definitely trying to turn Superman into the new kingpin of the WB Big screen universe. they’re aware that he and Batman are the two biggest names, and they’re focusing on making a really rock solid Superman movie.

    I will say this, they brough Nolan in to consult (Produce/write, etc) and they’re already taking a page out of his playbook by stocking every single part with top notch talent. I mean, “Man of Steel”‘s roster is LOADED!

    How it turns out is anybody’s guess, but I hope its an indication that they’re going to heed the advice you suggest at least in terms of this film…

    • They have certainly put together a great cast. Now if they will utilize them well we could be in store for a great franchise. The teaser is certainly promising.

  2. Well said Keith – I too wonder how they’ll move on from here with Batman and all the money that he’s now worth. I’m hoping they find someone truly capable to helm it.

    With Superman… I’m quietly optimistic. That teaser trailer was nice, but clearly it was put together to be “artsy” and make people think “wow, isn’t this like Chris Nolan?”, when it’s in fact Zack Snyder. Nothing against the guy, but in recent years his stock has fallen somewhat since 300. I just hope this isn’t Superman: A Slow Motion Journey.

    Another point is that I wonder if Warner are looking at Marvel’s choice of directors for their Phase I and II movies… Brannagh and Favreau were both punts that worked. Whedon was a sure fire thing, but they’re again taking risks with the Russo brothers and Alan Taylor for the continuing Thor and Cap stories. I quite like this approach and now have the utmost faith in Marvel to pick the right man for the job. Something I’m still yet to feel about DC / Warner.

    • Yep, Marvel has done it right. What I’m worried about is DC coming into the game a little too late. I mean often times these types of trends wear off after time. The superhero craze (which I am loving) has been going strong for a while now and it’s really due to Marvel numerous franchises and DC’s single Dark Knight trilogy. WB desperately wants a bigger stake in the game. I just hope they aren’t too late.

  3. Undoubtedly this bubble is going to burst… and will it be Guardians of the Galaxy that causes this? If Marvel pull that off, then they can do anything. The Midas touch if you will!

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