Doing Batman Right 7: The Way Forward

By Bob Case Posted Wednesday Dec 13, 2017

Filed under: Batman 60 comments

Based on my googling, it appears that Toby Emmerich is the closest thing the DC Cinematic Universe has to someone in charge. I assume he’s been hitting F5 on this page all day, eager for my expert advice. If not, one of you should hit up his home phone or something.

My advice on how best the manage DC’s menagerie of superheroes is handicapped by my relative absence of interest in comic book characters who aren’t Batman. Don’t ask me how to get the 18-35 demographic interested in Shazam or Cyborg, because I couldn’t tell you. But when it comes to making a good Batman movie, there’s a body of work to draw on, which makes it slightly confounding that none of the high muck-a-mucks at Warner Brothers have drawn on it.

Well, hopefully at least one of those muck-a-mucks is having this post read aloud to them by an intern while they get a manicure or snort their afternoon cocaine. Let’s start with Batman himself.

Ben Affleck is Fine

Ben Affleck is fine. In fact, when I ran down all of the live-action Batmans in my head, I was surprised to find that I think Affleck’s may be my favorite.

If nothing else, they got the stubble right.
If nothing else, they got the stubble right.

That’s not much of a bar to clear, though. Christian Bale is the most prestigious dramatic actor to play the role, but to honest there’s not that much about his Batman that I found memorable or character-defining, with the possible exception of his two-packs-a-day-habit “Batman voice.” Val Kilmer and George Clooney I barely remember, and Michael Keaton was notable mostly for being an unexpected choice. I suppose Adam West was better, but that’s such an apples-and-oranges comparison it’s barely worth making.

More so than any of the others (West excluded), Affleck gives the impression that he has a specific conception of the character he’s going for. His is the grizzled, ruthless Batman, graying in both his hair and his morality, and I think he more or less hit what he was aiming for.

Ever since Dawn of Justice disappointed, he’s been rumored to be on his way out. The hot-off-the-griddle latest rumors have Jon Hamm replacing him. Though he certainly has the look, I don’t see this as any kind of franchise-saving change and smacks more of guesswork.

I’ve always thought that when you cast Batman, you’re not really casting Batman. Batman himself wears a mask and spends most of his time punching people and jumping off of buildings, meaning he could perhaps be better played by a stuntman than a dramatic actor. The character you’re really casting is Bruce Wayne, who’s only seen while either vulnerable or putting on some kind of performance. (My favorite Christian Bale moment from his films was in Batman Begins, when he got the guests to clear out of Wayne manor by convincingly portraying a thoughtless, bratty twentysomething billionaire.)

So really, Ben Affleck is fine. Jon Hamm would probably also be fine (Don Draper was halfway to being Bruce Wayne anyway). What matters more is the movie that’s made around them, which brings me to my second point.

Give Batman His Own Damn Movie

Maybe they just decided to let the character lie fallow for a season after the Christopher Nolan movies, but to me sufficient time has passed for there to be a straight-up Batman movie again. These characters are resilient. The MCU hasn’t killed Spider-Man yet, even though they reboot the franchise every time there’s a new iPhone.

Instead, Batfleck has played second (or even third or fourth) banana in three different movies now. You’d think he was some second-stringer instead of a star quarterback. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Batman is at his best in Gotham and arguably at his worst when having to share a setting with capital-S Superheroes like Superman or Wonder Woman. So maybe just for one movie you could lay off the whole “cinematic universe” thing and just make a standalone Batman movie. It might even be good.

Confession: I didn't get around to watching Lego Batman until a couple weeks ago. It was good. Is there such a thing as the Lego Cinematic Universe? Marvel and DC could learn a thing or two.
Confession: I didn't get around to watching Lego Batman until a couple weeks ago. It was good. Is there such a thing as the Lego Cinematic Universe? Marvel and DC could learn a thing or two.

Keep it Simple

One of the first pieces of meta-knowledge I developed about superhero movies was not to cram too much into your runtime. Tim Burton’s Batman just had Batman and the Joker. Then Batman Returns had both the Penguin and Catwoman, which threatened to overcrowd the movie but never quite did.

Then Joel Schumacher showed up and things started to get out of hand. It says something that I can’t even remember at the moment which of those movies had Mr. Freeze in it, but I do know they introduced him, Robin, Batgirl, Poison Ivy, Two-Face, the Riddler, and even a comical attempt at Bane all within the space of (by my math) 247 minutes of screen time, and that’s counting two sets of opening and closing credits.

Suicide Squad suffered from a similar problem (though that was hardly the only problem with that movie). Not everyone seems to have realized that when you keep adding more and more characters to a movie, eventually you hit a point of diminishing returns.

Not only that, but generally, when it comes to Batman, low-concept beats high-concept pretty much every time.

It doesn't bode well that I'm more interested in the hypothetical second show than I am in the actual first one.
It doesn't bode well that I'm more interested in the hypothetical second show than I am in the actual first one.

Pit Batman against Superman? Have a prequel show full of younger-and-sexier versions of the villains? Have a ten-minute Batman vignette in the middle of another movie? The Warner Brothers people seem determined to try everything except the thing that’s been proven to work time and again. It’s freaking Batman, people. Most of the work has already been done for you!

According to what I’ve seen online, there are two “untitled DC films” slated for release in 2020. Here’s my advice: have one of them be Batman, and keep it simple. I don’t want to see Batman in a zombie apocalypse, or Batman in a brief cameo in Aquaman wearing a scuba-batsuit, or a dark comedy about Batman struggling with an Oxycontin addiction, or Batman versus a half-dozen villains in one single movie. If you absolutely have to, I guess you could bring Robin in, but only if you know how to do it right.

And so ends this particular series of complaints. Batman, you may have guessed by now, is important to me. I like my genre upmarket and with snooty literary pretensions, and that has become Batman’s brand, or at least one aspect of it. The rest of the comic book world I can more or less take or leave.

Thanks to everyone who’s stuck with me this far – I’ll be away until the holidays are over, between seeing family and working on other things. Until I see you again, enjoy your holidays!


From The Archives:

60 thoughts on “Doing Batman Right 7: The Way Forward

  1. Xythe says:

    Could I just be the 94th person to point out that the MCU has only had one Spider-Man movie, the rest were all Sony doing their own thing outside of what Marvel/Disney were up to.

    1. V says:

      “Sony kept on making endless rebooted Spider-Man movies even when they weren’t profitable because their contract said that if they DIDN’T keep making Spider-Man movies, the rights would revert to Marvel” is one of my favorite weird facts.

      1. Taellosse says:

        To be fair, that’s only half true. Sony made 5 Spider-Man movies, and only 2 of them were really bad – Spider-Man 3 and Amazing Spider-Man 2. The first 2 films directed by Sam Raimi were both critically acclaimed (if not flawless) and box offices successes, and Marc Webb’s first outing received more positivity than negativity by critics, and performed at the box office about as well as Raimi’s second movie.

        And if going purely by the metric of profit, they were ALL successful. Even ASM2, the worst-performing of the set, made plenty of money ($709 million gross on a ~$275 million budget) – it just got mostly panned critically. And bad as it was, Spider-Man 3 actually had the highest gross of all of them.

        Sony’s problem wasn’t that Spider-Man movies weren’t profitable. It’s that they were a lot of work and weren’t AS profitable as they WANTED them to be. Webb’s pair of movies were merely successful, rather than being runaway hits, and if Sony was going to put all the effort into making CG-heavy superhero movies, they wanted to be able to launch a tentpole mega-franchise like Marvel had – and it was clear that Spider-Man was not going to be able to deliver that to them by himself, despite their hopes.

        We do not know the exact terms of the deal between Sony and Marvel/Disney, but I’d be willing to bet that it works out to a somewhat lesser amount of money than Sony would have made if they kept making their own Spidey films, but it’s either a guaranteed flat sum, or a generous percentage of the gross on any solo Spider-Man movie, plus a smaller share of any movie in which he appears alongside other characters, and it requires the investment of no effort or money on their part, which makes it a highly attractive deal.

  2. MichaelGC says:

    Happy hols! Is one of those films rumoured to be DiCaprio playing the Joker, or did I just dream that and/or fall for an obvious fabrication?

  3. Jay says:

    As I see it, the main difference between Marvel and DC is that Marvel has more interesting heroes and DC has more interesting villains. I would advise concentrating on the villain in a DC movie. If you get the Joker right, all Batman has to do is show up to punch him. Ditto Lex Luthor, Bizarro, and most of the top-tier DC rogues gallery.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Dc has a pretty good diverse cast of interesting heroes.Just watch any of their cartoons and youll see how they can be properly utilized.The problem with dccu is that they are rarely using their characters in a proper fashion.

  4. Nimas says:

    I’d just like to point out that Batman absolutely *can* work with Superman (beyond the obvious World’s Finest animated movie) if you can actually have them be characters who interact with one another, often the villain doesn’t matter (think Marvel movie style) as long as Batman and Superman have great chemistry.

    Just want to quickly put thisarticle here about the very latest Batman comic which has some *really* good dialogue and insight into the twos character, and frankly they’re fucking adorable.

    1. Paul says:

      That article is good and the comic sounds fun.

  5. Nessus says:

    Wait, wait, waaaaaaaaiiiit… They’re thinking about dumping Ben Affleck? Are you fucking kidding me? The ONE THING that’s gotten nigh unanimous praise about the DCCU so far, the ONE THING that both people who love and hate the movies seem to agree on is that Affleck was not only a good Batman, but one of if not possibly the best actor yet to play the role in live action.

    Even people who don’t even like this version of Batman for other reasons, like him being a killer, or the visual design, or whatever, have still been saying Affleck turned out to be really good.

    The one unambiguous piece of solid ground in this quagmire of a franchise, and it’s the thing these ballchinians home in on to “fix”? How does that even? How are these guys’ kidneys not sliced thin and sautéed on a WB shareholder’s dinner table for even having the idea?

    1. Jay says:

      From what I hear, it’s more that Affleck wants out.

    2. The Rocketeer says:

      This is just rumor and scuttlebutt, but I’ve heard the situation is less that they’d like to drop him and more that Affleck is not eager to continue in the role. If this is so, then it’s likely that Affleck, rather than just say that he’s quitting or that he isn’t open to signing another contract, has simply elected to make retaining him very demanding for the studio, e.g., saying something like, “If you wanna keep me, give me the money Marvel gives RDJ,” or, “I’m a talented filmmaker myself, give me some control of the script/character/direction of some part of this massively over-planned slate of dozens of miserable films.”

      If this is so, there’s a big gap between the studio not wanting to keep Affleck despite his good reception, and just not wanting to give what he wants to retain his services. These kinds of negotiations are rarely publicized except in the most partial, vague, and careful terms, so it’s likely we won’t get a concrete answer for the reason regardless of what happens with the casting. It might be totally reasonable for the studio not to retain him, depending on what’s being negotiated or discussed internally.

      But I still wouldn’t put it past these hammerheads to just dump Affleck for no reason.

      EDIT: I should also say that, aside from the obvious opportunity afforded to Affleck to fish for a much larger payday or some sort of other intangible benefits from the studio, having one foot in the door and one out in this fashion is intended to put the onus on the studio for the result; i.e., if the studio doesn’t meet his terms, regardless of what they might be, Affleck would be perfectly within reason to say, “I could have stayed on, but the studio was unwilling to continue our working relationship.” The talent has a lot of leverage this way.

      1. Nessus says:

        That would make a lot more sense. It was the wording in the article that left me with the impression of the studio/producers having the initiative, since before now I hadn’t heard any of the rumors.

        If Affleck himself wants out, that would have some unfortunate implications of its own. IIRC before DOJ he was pretty excited about being Batman. If he wants out already, that probably means he got soured by something beyond just the iffy reception of the movies. I’d tentatively suspect conditions behind the camera were bad or argumentative or otherwise raising a lot of red flags for him.

        1. The Rocketeer says:

          Maybe, maybe not. Of course, it would probably unambiguously speak better of the films or studio or whatever if Affleck had a full head of steam to move forward, but if he is disinterested in the project, it could be for any of a billion different reasons we’ll never know, which may or may not imply larger problems behind the camera. Er, larger problems than we can obviously deduce from other consistent gossip and the state of the films themselves, and the constant changes and reworking done on the DCCU’s sprawling future plans in response to any given development in the news cycle.

          I also wouldn’t put very much weight on any positivity Affleck previously exhibited for the role prior to this, nor try to use it as any kind of reliable watermark for what his feelings where at any given time. It is a universal practice for actors, directors, anyone to smile, be a mensch, talk about how lucky you are to be part of such an incredible project and such a wonderful and talented group of artists, etc., etc., no matter how cynical, bored, pessimistic or furious each or every member of the project may actually be, how horrible the infighting and egotism can get, or how haphazard and asinine the project may become as it develops. You can phone in your performance and get terrible reviews, or make baffling, spiteful creative decisions that everyone recoils at, or drain the budgetary or marketing life from a project in which you’ve lost all faith, and no real negative consequences will arise from it in all but the rarest circumstances, e.g., if for some reason a particular performance or decision becomes a huge bugbear among the mass audience somehow, which is impossible to predict. But speaking ill of a movie or of your colleagues, even after the movie has left theaters and even if it had an awful reception, is a career killer. Nothing gets you blackballed faster than speaking ill of your fellows or the film, even long after release, and especially if what you say is true. I mean, let’s just be real for a second: is it reasonable to believe that Affleck, a screenwriter and filmmaker of real talent, could talk up how smart and thematic these movies are like he did for Batman v. Superman and mean it? This is boilerplate party-line stuff, but I don’t hold it against Affleck because literally everyone has to do this and turning your back on it is one of the only things that can seriously damage your reputation and brand within the system. I’d actually respect him less if I thought he meant it, which I don’t.

          It’s entirely possible, and probably the most likely scenario, that Affleck wanted in on the ground floor as possibly the most important and marketable character in (ostensibly) the arch-rival creative universe of the Marvel juggernaut, and who could fucking blame him? No idea why he might want out, however. It really could be anything. Maybe his fellow actors are all raging psychopaths, or working with Hack Snyder made him want to throw up, or he just doesn’t find the role fun to play, or he just has other projects he wants to do more, or they’re shorting him for role or for his stature as an actor, or he thinks the whole DCCU has feet of clay and the ones who get out early will be the lucky ones, or maybe he thinks, “I directed The Town, I don’t want to be associated with these tawdry comics flicks no matter how much money they make,” or maybe he’s been unreasonably and aggressively questioning the extremely top-down creative choices all these movies are shaped by and he doesn’t like getting bupkess for his input (he did write an early treatment for The Batman which seems not to have gained any traction; impossible to know what it was like, nor why/how anyone involved reacted to that development, including BA), or maybe he’d just rather carve ducks out of wood in his garage for the next year or so instead of being involved with such frequent, high-profile projects and doing publicity all the time. I wouldn’t assume anything concrete, and while it’s reasonable to believe or even likely that Affleck’s seemingly-premature departure from such a money role indicates some sort of otherwise-undissected problems with the whole Justice League oeuvre, it is, and will continue to be, such a vague and elusive negative gut-feeling that trying to make some sort of specific conclusions or observations based on his involvement alone is not much more reliable than reading tea leaves.

          But seriously, I don’t know why the director of 2012’s Best Picture winner Argo would be genuinely hyped to star in these movies unless they’re handing him a new Fabergé egg every week.

          1. Nessus says:

            I never put any stock in his statements regarding the movies themselves, for the exact reasons you describe.

            I was more cross referencing with the fact hat he was/is known to be huge comic book fan, and a huge Batman fan in specific, who IIRC had been vocal about wanting to play Batman in the past. So my impression has been that he leapt at the opportunity regardless of who was in charge, and probably threw himself into the role for DOJ just for the experience of it, even if he had reason to suspect/know the movie was bad.

            Once that experience had been had, however, he might reevaluate things more soberly. If the movies were good and the experience of working on them positive, then barring outside commitments I’d think he’d stay on, because the above would be not only still in play, but actively reenforced. But if he wants to leave, that makes me suspect (again, barring outside commitments, which I’ll admit are highly plausible given he has a strong directing career of his own to tend to) that he may have been soured on the role.

            1. Syal says:

              I think he took the role so he would stop having nightmares about Daredevil. Whether it worked or not, making more Batman movies won’t change it.

        2. Daemian Lucifer says:

          If he wants out already, that probably means he got soured by something beyond just the iffy reception of the movies.

          The reception to the movies REALLY bummed him out.So sad,much sorrow.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Love it

    3. Dreadjaws says:

      They’re nothing more than rumors. Absolutely nothing more. People have been poisoing the DCEU well ever since the beginning. If Affleck leaves the role, it’ll surely end up being consequence of these rumors and not the other way around.

    4. Carlos García says:

      What I saw on an article linked in Twitter a few weeks/months after the BvS movie, what happened is that Affleck wanted to be the director of the next Batman movie as condition to continue.

      Also, in another link ( in Spanish) for 2020 they have planned to do either a Batman movie or the second part for Wonder Woman.

  6. Paul says:

    The problem with your advice is it boils down to “Abandon the DC cinematic universe” which may not be the worst advice. DC has done largely great Batman movies for over 3 decades while simultaneously producing terrible to OK movies on everyone else. But the reason for their failures over that time actually is Batman!

    Their (and your) love of Batman is why every scene needs to be dark and all action needs to be grimey. Because if those things aren’t true Batman looks stupid (unless played by Adam West). Ben Affleck can’t stand outside a bank robbery in broad daylight but that’d exactly what Superman and Wonder Woman need to do in completely saturated colour environments.

    Either DC needs to work out how to combine and contrast the light the other characters need or they need to have Batman take one for the team and rock up to a psychedelic party in black.

    Or just remake Nolan’s movies again.

    1. Khizan says:

      I don’t think the problem is Batman.

      Personally, I think the problem is that all of the big-name DC superheroes other than Batman are just too powerful. Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern… all of these guys are massive A-list powers who require massive A-list threats.

      Look at the Dark Knight Returns. You can’t do a plot like that with Superman, because Supes could have just located the Joker with a combination of x-ray vision and superhearing, then smashed through and nabbed him. Their other heroes have similar issues with a plot like that, and I feel like that makes it difficult to make a movie about it.

      Batman works for movies because he’s on a much lower power curve than the others are. The other heroes can’t do a story like that because they just simple outmuscle the scenario and could trivialize it. It makes a ‘small picture’ movie much harder.

      As such, they really only work in a character driven story that’s about their growth and their character. That’s why Wonder Woman worked; the movie wasn’t about the threat so much as it was about Wonder Woman being exposed to the world and learning about people, and about her coming to accept the fact that the world isn’t innately good.

      You could make a really good Superman movie about that same kind of thing. Coming to grips with the fact that he can’t save everybody, feeling torn about saving people who don’t deserve it, that kind of thing. They’ll never do that, though, because Superman is seen as an action hero despite the fact that he’s a terrible action hero.

    2. Nessus says:

      I’m not convinced Batman has to be only in the dark to be visually effective.

      The only real reason to think that way IMO is the costume, but it should actually be really easy to design a costume that looks good in both daylight and shadow, it’s just that it hasn’t really been attempted yet. The movie costumes so far have all been designed 100% for shadow with no thought about how they’d look in full light at all, which is why they end up falling flat in full light.

      I also sort of think Batsuit designs tend to emphasize the hardware too much. They’re often made to look more like something cool to wear rather than something really scary. Seems to make sense if you’re thinking of Batman as a power fantasy, but IMO if you make him intimidating first, cool will naturally follow, whereas if you make him cool first, intimidating is still on it’s own. Batman’s whole idea is to terrorize criminals, to make himself a sort of urban-legend-only-real figure, so IMO the image goal should be to seem like something more… I wanna say supernatural, than just an ordinary shootable human in really expensive bat-themed SWAT gear. He IS just a normal shootable human in expensive bat-themed SWAT gear, and the audience should see that, but IMO his look should be designed around what he wants the criminals to see, not around what the producers think the audience wants to be.

      If he’s designed to look like a normie in expensive bat-themed SWAT gear, then of course he’s going to be stripped of pretense once he’s taken out of the shadows, and especially when placed next to proper metahumans who don’t need SWAT gear to fight (some might point the Punisher as counterexample, but I’d point out that the Punisher has no pretenses to be stripped of: he’s alway just a regular guy who’s coming to shoot you in the face, in light or dark). In order for the bat theme to work in light, you gotta think “Jason Voorhees”* or ” Devilman” when designing his suit, instead of “James Bond” or “Sam Fisher”.

      *I don’t mean in grungy corpsey tatters, I mean in the sense of something inhuman that can’t be stopped or escaped by mortal means.

      1. Viktor says:

        See, I'd go ninja rather than any of those. Make Bats mostly the research/communication guy who occasionally fights, but when he does he mostly does stealth and precision strikes rather than brawling. Think Robin in the Young Justice pilot. And if you're doing that, he ends up wearing more of a black catsuit with a weaponized cape.

        1. Nessus says:

          That’s not entirely a “rather than”. As far as his role in the JLA, I completely agree he fits more as the research/investigation/puzzle master guy (i.e. the detective) than as one of the front line brawlers. And to the extent he does fight, it would pretty much have to be stealth and hit-and-run in order to stand against the kind of heavier villians that demand JLA attention.

          I was reffering to his costume style in a more general sense. It’s usually the case that he wears the same costume when he’s on JLA business as when he’s on solo Gotham business, and the Gotham business is what defines his costume theme, so I didn’t direct my thoughts at his JLA role specifically.

          I generally favor the idea that he’d be armoured, but much more lightly than is normal in the films. Plus I feel like a lithe Batman makes more sense than a brick-house Batman, and as I said above, I think he’d work better visually if his suit was designed to obscure the technological aspects rather than announce them, so a catsuit-like silhouette would fit well even if it wasn’t a literal catsuit. I feel that it’s not a good idea to look like JUST a catsuit though, as the whole idea of the bat theme is to look like more than JUST some guy in a suit, ANY suit. He may be technically a ninja, but he doesn’t want criminals actually thinking of him as a ninja, ’cause ninjas are human (except when they’re turtles). He wants them thinking of him as a haunting thing, a force of nature rather than a man, even if they know better on a conscious level.

          I don’t personally think black is the best color. IMO during the day, black is going to be one of those things that makes him look awkwardly out of place on those bank steps, for a number of reasons. Grays, blues, and browns actually blend in better than black in low light, and in bright light everything’s going to be visible even if it’s black, so you might as well take advantage of color/tone to give yourself more design options. Non-blacks give you a whole extra design toolbox to help preserve his intimidation value in daylight.

          Unless you go full vanta-black, he WILL look completely different in daylight no matter what, so you might as well design him to look good in full light first, and then as long as the silhouette’s good in it’s own right, looking good in shadow will actually mostly take care of itself. Most if not all the movie suits were designed first/only for shadow, so in light they’re out of their element. They actually do use a lot of non-blacks, but they tend to do so in a way that’s actually more about making “black” details show up on camera better.

  7. Dev Null says:

    The MCU hasn't killed Spider-Man yet, even though they reboot the franchise every time there's a new iPhone.

    Oh yes they have. Unless you count ticket sales. But please don’t use your immense influence and vast inside connections at DC to get them to emulate the Spiderman School of Make the Same Movie Over-and-Over Forever. It’s awful and I’m bored.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      As was mentioned in the first comment here,mcu did not do that,that was sony.Marvel actually DID make a completely different movie from the constant retread of the origin we had before.

      1. Dev Null says:

        I get that. But when someone else has already made a movie umpteen times, and then you get the rights and remake it again? It’s still repetitious, even if it wasn’t you who _started_ the pattern. And maybe they did a good job of retelling it – I don’t know, since I’m unlikely to ever see it. Maybe they added new and novel elements. But the point is that they did a good job of adding new and novel elements… to the origin story of a character whose origin story I am bored to tears with.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          But thats the thing,mcu spiderman does not cover the origin story at all.

    2. Francis-Olivier says:

      It would be harder for them to do the same Batman movie over and over again though since Batman doesn’t have as much in his origin story that the writer thinks the newcomers to the franchise absolutly need to know for some reason. Sure every story will have a bit when they show his parents get murder and it fucking suck (seriously get over it already!) but comes and go relatively quickly. All you we get to learn usually is that they got shot and he became a vigilante to honor them.

      To have the writers start doing the same movie over and over again they’d probably have to focus on a small group of villans and that’s something they usually want to avoid. Really the one part of the mythos they’re most likely to see reapear all the time is Mr. Freeze’s backstory.

  8. ehlijen says:

    I’m a bit confused. You say “Keep it Simple” in the section headline, but conclude by finding low concept to be superior to high concept for Batman. Doesn’t ‘high concept’ mean ‘simple and easy to summarise’?

    1. Matt Downie says:

      I think High Concept also implies “gimmicky”.

      So “Batman in Space” is more High Concept than, say, “Batman tries to catch The Joker.”

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        The way I understand it,high concept is external and low concept is internal.So IIIIN SPAAAAACEEEEE is high concept,but “Ai starts behaving like a human” is low concept,and you can use both to describe 2001:space odyssey.

        1. ehlijen says:

          That’s not how I understand it (and I looked up the definition before commenting, in case I was wrong).

          High concept means: A high percentage of the content can easily and meaningfully be summed up very briefly.

          “The away team returns to the Enterprise and finds the crew has devolved into their animal ancestors” is high concept.
          “An away team is trapped in the past and accidentally stops and important civil rights protest from playing out as intended, forcing the captain to take over the role of a famous martyr” is a lot less high concept because it takes a lot more words to get the gist across.

          1. Blackbird71 says:

            That’s a different meaning and use of the phrase “high concept”. That’s not the “high concept” vs. “low concept,” that’s “this is the high concept,” as in “this is the general idea/plot”, i.e., it is a “high-level description of the concept”, not that the concept itself is “high”.

            1. ehlijen says:

              I’m going by this definition, which does include contrast vs low concept:

              I have never heard of another meaning (and can’t see a disambiguation link at wikipedia either). Can you link me to the other one?

  9. Tuck says:

    According to imdb, Ben Affleck is involved as both producer and actor in pre-production of a film titled “The Batman”.

  10. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Michael Keaton was notable mostly for being an unexpected choice

    And for being the best non animated batman.The toughest part of being a vigilante superhero is that no one should be able to connect your hero persona with your civilian persona,and other than Keaton,no one has pulled that off.

    1. Zekiel says:

      Seconded. I thought Keaton was great as Bruce Wayne.

  11. Daemian Lucifer says:

    The Warner Brothers people seem determined to try everything except the thing that's been proven to work time and again.

    Ironically,thats exactly what they did with superman*.Obviously,that was a bad idea.

    *Putting what works for batman into a superman movie that is,not trying a tried and tested superman formula once more.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      And so we ended up with the glorious sight of Superman hitting Zod in the face while shouting ‘motherfucker!’ at him, or of Batman breaking a toilet sink over Superman’s head.

      (Side Note: Does anyone know where I can find a .gif of the toilet-sink-smashing? I’ve been looking for ages.)

  12. Lars says:

    I vote for a Batman Beyond movie. With Adam West in the role of Batman and Cameron Monaghan as Terry McGinnis. Going against the remains of the League of Assassins.

    1. Blackbird71 says:

      Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but Adam West passed away just this last June.

      1. Lars says:

        Ah. Missed that one. Than how about Jack Nicholson as Bruce Wayne/Batman? The Joker of old, now as the old Batman and the newest Joker (Monaghan is the Joker of the Gotham series) as the “Batman of the Future” – as Batman Beyond is called in germany.

  13. Redrock says:

    I think with Affleck’s older Batman they really missed the opportunity to concentrate on Batman’s brain over his brawn. It would’ve made sense, too, seeing as how he is much less powerful than anyone else in the league. That’s how the comics usually deal with it – by elevating his intelligence and tactical thinking to borderline precog levels in Justice League stories (he usually seems to be less smart and forward-thinking in Gotham stories, because otherwise there would be no story).

    And I feel like they really missed the mark here. Batfleck is a fighter first and foremost, a brawler, and a rich sponsor for the JL. He has trouble detecting or conbincing people. He doesn’t dazzle other members with his knowledge. He is even worse at spotting a tail than Wonder Woman is. A real shame. I think Affleck could really do a lot with better writing. Visually his Bruce Wayne seems to be almost perfect – refined, yet rugged, tired, yet determined.

    1. Matt Downie says:

      “by elevating his intelligence and tactical thinking to borderline precog levels in Justice League stories”
      …and by making Superman a bit dumber so he doesn’t just use his super-brain and super-speed and super-senses to figure things out first.

      1. Redrock says:

        Does Superman have a super-brain? Super-senses, yes, but a super-brain? I always thought the reasoning behind Superman being just a little dumber than many others was that at his power levels he doesn’t really have to learn and think and plan all that often, going for the direct approach 9 times out of 10. Not much of a Superman expert, so I might be wrong.

        1. FluffySquirrel says:

          From what I’m aware, he can think super fast, much like Flash.. so that gives him a little bit of a leeway in time to think things through you’d think.. but yeah, relatively normal intelligence other than that. I wouldn’t class him as particularly smart in any incarnation I’ve seen of him

        2. tremor3258 says:

          Depends on the reboot. Superman tends to get craftier in longer-run shows, these days, where the situations can develop a bit more so he can’t just punch all his problems.

          Back in the Silver Age it’s not clear why Earth HAD other heroes.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Supes is not dumb,he is of average/slightly above average intelligence.Batman is a genius so he should overshadow superman in that.

        But,because its hard to write someone smarter than you,there is an easy workaround for lazy writers:Use obscure knowledge.Have batman throw around stuff like latin name for animals,using “flora” instead of “plants”,and similar stuff like that.That way you can present a character like they are smarter than they actually are.

  14. Daemian Lucifer says:

    You know whats weird?In all of the batman movies,not once does he use his charm to talk his way out of a tough situation*.Yet in the jlu cartoon,thats precisely what he does in that episode where he is captured and manages to disrupt the villains just by talking.Seriously,how come a cartoon made for kids managed to be more adult than all these movies made for adults?

    *Ok,technically the “acting like a jackass so that the joker shoots him in the hidden dinner plate” in the first Burton batman can be counted as that,but barely.

  15. Zekiel says:

    My favorite Christian Bale moment from his films was in Batman Begins, when he got the guests to clear out of Wayne manor by convincingly portraying a thoughtless, bratty twentysomething billionaire.

    I like that moment, but I *love* the bit in The Dark Knight at Wayne’s party for Harvey Dent, where he does a speech that starts off sarcastically mocking Dent’s campaign and segues into being a genuine endorsement. It’s a wonderful bit of writing, acting and characterisation and I found it surprisingly moving.

    1. Zekiel says:

      A close second is this fantastic bit from the same sequence:

  16. Miriam says:

    Affleck was terrible as Batman and despite what Snyder/Affleck fans yell at the others, Affleck wasn’t liked: people stopped playing to see him playing Batman and was one of the reasons Justice League flopped: too many people stated that they’re no interested in the movie since Affleck plays Batman. His performance was wooden, bored and uninterested – not to mention his weight that made Batman looking ridiculous. Also, he was in sexual harrassment scandals and this hurt the movie even if Warner paid millions to advertize him.

    On the other hand, Christian Bale is the most memorable Batman: people still recall many of his scenes and quotes. Also, still people want to see more of him in a new movie. He is the prefect Batman and if he returned the enthusiasm would be the biggest advertisement for a movie.

  17. Retsam says:

    Don't ask me how to get the 18-35 demographic interested in … Cyborg

    I got you covered here: they just need to bring back the original Teen Titans.

    1. Viktor says:

      That’s what I don’t get. DC’s cartoons had(have) huge reach. Teen Titans, Timmverse Batman/Superman, Justice League, Young Justice, Teen Titans Go, Batman Beyond, Static Shock. If you’re looking to make a movie, why is that not the source material you draw from? An entire generation of kids grew up with those cartoons and they’re mostly at the coveted 18-35 demo RIGHT NOW. Make Batman movies with Robin and Batgirl and Harley and Freeze*, make Superman an actual hero, make a JL with people who seem actually likable and a Teen Titans that is struggling with street-level threats. The audience is there, why is DC focusing on remaking “Angst and suffering, now with more violence” for the umpteenth time?

      *Don’t say Nolanverse was the sequel to Timm’s Batman. Timmverse Batman wasn’t gritty. It was dark and gothic, but fundamentally heroic. Nolanverse is all about the grit.

      1. Christopher says:

        Ditto. Without the DC cartoons, my interest in anything DC related would be pretty damn limited.

    2. BlueHorus says:

      Here’s the thing:
      Before 2008, I knew nothing about Iron Man beyond the name and his power set of ‘has a suit of high-tech armor’. I didn’t care. But they got a good actor, a decent script, and introduced the character well. Now he’s a big deal.
      It’s totally possible to do that with Cyborg, or the Flash, or maybe even Aquaman. One could write an awesome movie about a Cyborg.
      Can WB do that? I have less faith in them than I could, but it’s certainly possible.

  18. BlueHorus says:

    Give Batman His Own Damn Movie

    So much this. Remember that the Marvel Cinematic Universe started as single movies? With different tones and stories tailored to the characters? (Almost) all the Avengers got established in their own movies, set up their characters – and THEN they had the big ensemble movie, which again was different from the others.

    Let’s have a solo Batman. Then a new – good – solo Superman movie. Wonder Woman 2. Then, if those films did well, you can start to think about a Cyborg movie, or Aquaman, or the Flash…

    Diving straight into the Justice League team-up movie with little-to-no plan means you might have to write a simplistic story to fit around introducing characters the audience doesn’t know or care about yet. The plot of the movie will suffe-


  19. Dreadjaws says:

    Instead, Batfleck has played second (or even third or fourth) banana in three different movies now.

    The hell are you talking about? He’s been a major character only in two DCEU movies, his presence in Suicide Squad is merely a cameo, I don’t think it’s fair to count it.

    In any case, while your advice is sound when it comes to Batman, people have been telling WB to stop focusing exclusively on that character for years, so even if the guys in charge are fans of this column they’re likely to ignore this advice.

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