Batman vs Superman: Please don’t mess this up, Zach Snyder!

Published: July 25, 2013

Warner Bros officially announced that the Man of Steel sequel would feature both Superman and Batman together for the first time in film history. PHOTO: WARNER BROS

As compared to Marvel’s well-oiled presentation at the San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC), the official announcement by filmmaker Zach Snyder for a sequel to Man of Steel seemed just a little hastily put together.

In the end though, the lack of refinement mattered for little, as Snyder, in one nerdgasmic move, upstaged the rival company’s presentation on their sequel to the highest grossing superhero film of all time. That’s no mean feat, especially considering that Man of Steel (MoS) earned mixed reviews, and in terms of box office exposure, earned nearly a billion dollars less than The Avengers.

As you may be aware, last weekend, Zach Snyder surprisingly took to the stage at SDCC, announcing a sequel to Man of Steel for 2015, quickly creating excitement amongst a packed audience. Here, when coming to the actual theme of the film, Snyder had the following passage read out by MoS actor Harry Lennix:

“I want you to remember, Clark [Kent – Superman’s earth name], in all the years to come… In your most private moments, I want you to remember my hand at your throat. I want you to remember the one man who beat you.”

Those in the audience who recognised the passage from Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns immediately began shouting and screaming, scarcely able to register what Snyder was indicating.

Then the lights went out.

To the excitement of the fans, the Superman logo suddenly whirled on to the large screens in the hall. Next, leaving everyone in the audience screaming in sweet geek pleasure, the Batman logo quietly superimposed itself on the Superman logo, forcing the excited SDCC panel moderator to ask the joyful crowd,

“What the heck was that? There are no words, you guys…”

Later, Warner Bros officially announced that the Man of Steel sequel would feature both Superman and Batman together for the first time in film history. Confirmed by writer David Goyer was the news that the upcoming Bruce Wayne/Batman character would not be played by Christian Bale (The Dark Knight trilogy), and it was also established that this would be a different interpretation of the character from that of Christopher Nolan’s universe.

Personally, I am pleased by Warner Bros’ decision to reboot the Batman character, for a wide variety of reasons. That fact is that Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy was fantastic and set a nearly impossible benchmark in the superhero genre, and to allow another filmmaker to use Nolan’s Batman would be to risk sullying the Dark Knight trilogy, especially if the new films aren’t well received. At the very least, we should be able to revisit the Dark Knight trilogy as a separate entity. One should keep in mind that bad sequels can hurt the legacy of the original films, with The MatrixJaws, and Robocop as examples of good films remembered for bad sequels.

Rebooting the Batman character also allows Warner Bros to better shape an extended DC Comics universe. Rumours are already spreading that in the works is a film starring the super fast superhero, The Flash, with eventual plans for a Justice League film, featuring other super powered characters such as Wonder Woman, The Green Lantern, and as hinted from Man of Steel, Booster Gold.

A realistic interpretation of Batman such as Christopher Nolan’s, doesn’t fall in line with these characters. Furthermore, in The Dark Knight Rises, Batman barely defeated Bane, who wasn’t nearly as strong as he was in the comic books, so it is difficult to imagine Nolan’s Batman being valuable in a world of super humans.

In other forms of Batman fiction, such as the graphic novels, when facing superhuman foes, the Dark Knight is often beaten in physical contests before eventually prevailing through the use of his wit, his huge arsenal of gadgets (including those on his utility belt), as well as through his high flying martial arts skills. This is the interpretation of Batman that can hold his own in a world with godlike beings, a character who can use his grappling hook to quickly zoom between the streets and peaks of Gotham City almost like Spider-Man. That certainly isn’t Nolan’s Batman, who is less of a high flying martial artist, and more of a brawler.

Also consider that Nolan’s Batman gave up his fortune at the very end, eventually donating his home to orphans. On the other hand, the Batman in The Justice League owns a space station, ‘The Watchtower’, which is used as a base of operations by his team of superheroes. How would that be explained if Snyder adopts Nolan’s Batman? Would Christian Bale work towards The Watchtower by first kicking out the orphans from his home?

“Do you want me to ***** go trash your lights, orphans? You are trashing my scene!”

Reinterpreting the Batman character also allows for the appearance of the numerous fantastical Batman villains who simply couldn’t have appeared in a realistic universe, such as Killer Croc, Solomon Grundy, Poison Ivy, and Mr Freeze.

As for who should play Batman, I think it would be difficult to top Christian Bale, but my vote is for the talented Arnie Hammer (The Social Network), who looks the part of millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne and has the strong Batman chin. Of course, he would certainly need to go through some physical training, though interestingly enough, he was cast as Batman once!

What is most appreciable about Warner Bros doing a Superman/Batman film before an actual Justice League film, or an obligatory Batman solo film, is that it reintroduces Batman without the clutter of other characters, yet keeps the character fresh with the dynamic of the last son of Krypton as a possible antagonist. With Nolan’s films fresh in our minds, another origin story would be pointless. Something else to appreciate, especially as a DC fan boy, is that Warner Bros are ignoring Marvel’s Avengers blueprint, by introducing characters more organically on screen.

Regarding the narrative of the Superman/Batman film, while the script is still being penned, I feel that the movie will deal with the fallout from the devastation in Man of Steel, where Kal El’s traditional nemesis, Lex Luthor, will lead the charge against an alien who is a possible threat to mankind. Here, the extremely powerful businessman’s evil motivations will be shown under his seemingly well-meaning public stance against Superman, and it is here that Bruce Wayne’s character will come into play. Bruce, who like Lex is a business tycoon, may initially align resources with Luthor, even acquiring kryptonite, in case Superman needs to be stopped.

Superman and Batman have had some fantastic stories in graphic novels, with both superheroes sharing a thirst for justice, yet unable to agree on execution of said justice. The ability to play the morale stances of these two icons against each other can result in some fascinating narratives, and absorbing character development.

My biggest worry with this upcoming Superman/Batman film is that the man in charge, Zach Snyder, is yet to make a completely good film. His best work was probably Man of Steel, which was a bit like a cracked diamond; when it was good, it was brilliant, yet it also had some poor elements of filmmaking, especially towards the overly long latter half, which should have been sent back to the editing room.

Like Kal El himself, Man of Steel often felt like it had two fathers, in the shape of Chistopher Nolan and Zach Snyder, giving the film a disjointed feel. With reports that Snyder has more control, as Nolan understandably wants to avoid another Batman project, perhaps Snyder can make the exact film he envisions.

Hopefully that’s a good thing.

Creating a film involving not one, but two rebooted iconic superheroes is a huge responsibility, and if this film doesn’t fly, it could be a super disaster for Warner Bros, potentially killing the Batman franchise like Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin (1997), until Nolan revived it eight years later.

So here is a sincere message from fans of the DC universe: Please don’t mess this up, Zach Snyder!

Read more by Noman here or follow him on Twitter @Pugnate

Noman Ansari

Noman Ansari

The author is the editor-in-chief of IGN Pakistan, and has been reviewing films and writing opinion pieces for The Express Tribune as well as Dawn for five years. He tweets as @Pugnate (twitter.com/Pugnate)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Jermaine

    Good read. Like you I’m a little worried about the outcome of this film. Man of Steel, while flawed, offered so much potential for great sequels. Many fans hoped that the issues that occurred in Man of Steel would be addressed in another Superman solo sequel. No one expected a team-up film this soon. I think all we can do now is wait and see until more material is released.

    Fingers crossed,,
    JermaineRecommend

  • Raza

    Good analysis man, but you know Kal-El and Bruce when first met it wasn’t a friendly meeting so if its Batman/MoS, Zack should show a small fight then make them realise who the real enemy bit like the Dark Knight Returns II. New Batman for me should be Matt Bomer from White Collar, As for other characters Flash deserves a movie Ryan Gosling would be fit and not Booster Gold sorry either Green Arrow/Aquaman/Martian Manhunter. Marvels is moving at fast pace DC has yet to cover but one thing’s for sure Marvel have no perfection and DC took time and will bounce back.Recommend

  • TEPHollywoodfan

    ya ya spidermans is awesomes maaaanRecommend

  • Mariyah

    Batman vs Superman is almost like they’ve run out of ideas, so much so that they have to mix and match the old super heros. This would be monotoneous.

    We need a new super hero!Recommend

  • Critical

    Brilliant analysis….As an avid comic book fan,I hate people reviewing movies with no knowledge of the original comics…..Your analysis was well detailed….

    Comic books have different universe which enables the writers to re imagine the story and add elements which was missing in the previous one….

    Frank Miller’s “Dark Knight Rises” was a surprise to all who were watching a 30 something Bruce Wayne battle for half a century and suddenly coming as a retired 50 yr old who beat the crap out of Superman was nothing less of a hurrah!!!

    Justce League: Doom was one good comic which could be worked out as a movie as it once again gave more importance to Batman which he truly deserves

    I would conclude with this dialogue from Batman/Superman

    Joker: Pay me one billion dollars, and I’ll kill Superman!
    Lex Luthor: What makes you think you can kill Superman when you can’t even handle a mere mortal in a Halloween costume?
    Joker: There’s nothing mere about that mortal!

    Always be yourself,no matter what,unless of course you are BatmanRecommend

  • Critical

    On a side note,Armie Hammer has all the qualities of Bruce Wayne…He’s tall,muscular,handsome and most importanly he is the heir of a large fortune with which he can easily buy gadgets he needs

    Recommend

  • Saim

    Yawn……….as boring as everRecommend

  • Hira

    don’t understand why people with little or no interest bother to read and then comment @Saim.

    a brilliant analysis! Recommend

  • Col. Nicholson

    If Batman is going to play a significant role in the next film (which I imagine he will, not just cameo) then it’s hardly a Man of Steel sequel anymore..it’s basically a Batman/Superman movie in the DC shared Universe introduced in MoS.

    From a business point of view, I can understand and appreciate Warner Bro’s decision to fast-track this movie towards the inevitable Justice League picture but in order for these films to compete with Marvel , they need to get the best people both on and off-camera to bring their A-game.

    Zack Snyder is, in a word, an enigma. His films are great in bits and pieces but overall leaves you scratching your head. His persistent need to prioritize stylized visuals over cohesive plot and character development have compromised the quality of his films (including MoS). David Goyer is also a mixed bag, his scripts often getting carried away with pointless set-pieces and lacking the polish and depth of a typical Nolan script (Inception say) I hope they step it up for the S/B movie but I shall remain skeptical for the time being.

    Lastly, casting is crucial. This again was Nolan’s specialty. His casting was almost always spot-on. Armie Hammer is a good option. I think Zachary Quinto from Star Trek is also capable of pulling off a younger, maybe less-intense Bruce/Batman.

    In any event, this just became the most anticipated movie of 2015 so far.

    P.S No more throaty Bat-voices please: “RRRWherrrrzzz yerrrrrrrr twigggerrrrrr???????” LolzRecommend

  • Hina

    Good thinking. i, too, am worried. And the biggest question that arises is: Who, out of the two SUPERheroes would steal the spotlight? Will it be the new selected Batman or the same hunk Superman? time will tell. Recommend

  • Raza

    @Critical:
    A great comment too :D, the last part of your Luthor & Joker convo seems to be like Injustice: gods amongst us storyline in the end joker kills lois lane and Superman goes Berserk :D ..

    cheers from fellow comic book fan and the writer of this blog :)Recommend

  • Jermaine

    @Critical:

    While I agree that it’s important for comic fans to review comic book movies, you should also consider that the influence and popularity of these characters transcends beyond the pages. They have been pop culture icons for some time now. This is the reason why it’s so hard to please both comic fans,such as ourselves and the general audience in regards to hero films.Recommend

  • Jeff H.

    Good article.

    Casting choices are going to play a huge part in this movie. At first, I thought they could bring Bale back and make it work. A great way to reintroduce him as Batman would have been to have him train with Lady Shiva. He did this in the comics after Bane broke his back and came back better than ever. Now I see that as a stretch. I don’t think anyone will ever top Christian Bale. For that reason, it is hard for me to give an opinion on who should play Batman. After seeing Dredd 3D, I thought Karl Urban would be a great Batman, but I’m not sure how he would do when he is Bruce Wayne. Another actor who could pull of both parts, in my opinion, is Michael Fassbender. Lex Luthor is another important character to get right. If WB is not planning on using him as Sinestro again, Mark Strong would be a great choice.

    I’m happy WB and DC are going in this direction. Start your new universe with the two greatest comic book icons ever. I think someone else should get a cameo at the end of this movie to set up another character, either WW or MM. Introduce another one in the MOS Sequel and/or solo Batman movie, and you have your Justice League. Not everyone needs a solo movie before the Justice League movie. I think Flash and WW should get a solo treatment before it, but would not be upset if they didn’t.

    This movie could be epic… or it could be a huge disappointment. These two characters from DC in a movie together can beat out all of the Avengers if done right.Recommend

  • Col. Nicholson

    @Jeff H.

    Fassbender would have been my first choice for Batman, unfortunately he’s probably under contract with Fox Studios to play Magneto in their X-Men movies for God-only-knows how many more decades.

    If Lex Luthor will be in the next film I think Jeffrey Dean Morgan could play the part well.He’s also worked with Snyder before in Watchmen (The Comedian). Also it would be nice to see the return of Miss Teschmacher from the old Superman movies, not as a dumb lackie but a more sassy, clever and dangerous no.2 to Lex. Carla Gugino, another Snyder movie vet would be a good choice for that role.Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    I prefer a lesser known actor, which is why Arnie Hammer fits the bill for me. Recommend

  • John J.

    I wish they just do the right move be reasonable and keep doing justice to superman as well as batman, superman should be holding batman and having compassion for him, inspired by how batman never gives up and desicion of always doing the right thing no matter what the cost or what government says.Recommend

  • Popmatter

    Good post!

    I agree that Zack Snyder is something of a mixed bag, his adaptations tend to be big on special effects but lack heart. Although in his defense, Watchmen seemed to improve considerably on second and third viewings (the extended cut helped). Man of Steel however was a huge misstep in my opinion, although maybe the script was more at fault than the director.

    The DC animated series and films have already set a high standard in terms of on screen pairings of Superman and Batman. Those would be the ones to beat. The good thing is Henry Cavill at least makes a terrific Superman so they have one half of the equation … Who’s going to be this movie’s “Kevin Conroy” though? Recommend

  • Jamaluddin

    Good piece.

    Batman and Superman together in a movie !!! #GeekgasmRecommend