Trade Perspectives: I Can Has Superman/Batman Movie?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Comics sites reported director Christopher Nolan's announcement today that he will be involved with the new revised Superman movie franchise, and that the Superman movies will exist in a separate universe from the Batman ones (to quote the LA Times: "[Nolan emphasized] the idea that Batman exists in a world where he is the only superhero and a similar approach to the Man of Steel would assure the integrity needed for the film.").

To which the Collected Editions blog says: why?

Seems to me (being not a popular and successful director) Superman and Batman can easily exist in the same movie universe* without it needing to be confirmed nor denied. Easily from a story perspective one can posit that Batman's such an urban vigilante that he might be below the notice of Superman (yes, even Superman), or that if one event takes place in Gotham and another in Metropolis, the twain need not intersect.

The reason for fan concern, of course, is that separating the universe negates the possibility (of sorts) of a Justice League movie (Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths being a good start, but not quite the "real thing").

And I can't help but think, once again, Marvel is farther-sighted than DC in this. Fans like team-ups -- it's why the Avengers and the Justice League has worked for years -- so even if a team-up movie isn't necessarily in the works, teasing it like Marvel has done across Iron Man and Hulk seems a lot better idea than dismissing it out of the gate.

Only -- does this characterize a difference in the moviegoers? Lots of non-comics fans saw Iron Man, but so did a lot of comics fans, and they loved the little hints of other superheroes. But I'd venture (totally unsubstantiated) that even more comics and non-comics fans saw Dark Knight, and hardcore Dark Knight fans -- "Batman doesn't sleep, doesn't smile, and he's not friends with that silly Superman" -- might not want any Superman in their dark Batman movie. That is, maybe Marvel-on-film lends itself to a shared universe better than DC-on-film does.

Me? I actually liked Superman Returns.

* Don't Superman and the current Spider-Man exist in the same movie universe? "You're not Superman" and all that?
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10 comments:

  1. I totally agree with you. Why can't they exist in the same universe?

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  2. I liked it too, dammit! I can't think of any other movie regarding which I received so many looks of derision and bewilderment when I merely stated that I liked it. Marvel Zombies, need I remind you of the third X-Men and Spider-Men movies? Even Superman Returns haters must acknowledge that both of those were far worse.

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  3. Indeed -- at least Superman Returns didn't have a dance number. And I thought it got to the core of "Superman-as-lonely-person" well (if that's your Superman). I'm overdue to see the uncut edition of Superman Returns, which I believe helps accentuate the themes of the movie.

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  4. I agree 200%. I mean, I'm not saying you need for every movie to be a full-blown crossover, but to flat out say "NO! NEVER!" like that is, to say the least, an odd buisiness perspective. I mean, if Nolan doesn't want, in he own mind, a shared continuity, more power to him. What if, however, somebody like Johns, Rucka, or Waid came to WB's doorstep one day with an insanely excellent, good proposal for, say, a Trinity or Superman/Batman movie? There seems to be this paradigm that a crossover movie would only be good for fan-geekery, and not a coherent plotline that was universal among comic fans and non-comic fans, the way TDK was.

    DC needs a kick in the marketing behind.

    Tomato

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  5. Well said.

    For as much as I consider the DC Universe to be superior to Marvel (A LOT), I'd say Marvel's films are better in the "these-can-be-legitimately tied together" sense.

    I saw Iron Man for the first time recently, and I found it fantastic, but for a specific reason: They streamlined continuity. The screenwriters were able to blend the origin of Tony from the main MU while blending in the Ultimate version of Nick Fury and his intention of forming a government stuper-hero team, aka the Avengers/Ultimates. This will work well in the Avengers film because it'll not only reflect the fact that, in mainstream continuity, the Avengers now ARE, after some crossover-y goodness, a government-sponsored team, but also will allow for smoother storytelling with more appeal to non-comics fans.

    The reason DC might not be able to pull this off so well is that, within the structure of these new Batman films, and potentially this new Superman, it's never established that Batman, in particular, cares about the world outside of Gotham. There'd have to be a large sort of event to happen for this change in character to happen, and I don't think it would gell with where this new DC continuity is going.

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  6. Nolan seems somewhat like Sam Raimi with this in that he wants to do what he wants to do. The difference being that he hasn't shafted characters he didn't like so far and made genuinely good movies*. It's kinda fitting in this case as well.

    Nolans been pushing a "more realistic" Batman film series with his work with that franchise. He's said it's a large part of why the more outlandish villains have been kept out of them. When you look at it in that sense, it really doesn't seem all that far out there; in the darker, more realistic slant a guy like Superman just doesn't fit into the MO, which is probably why it's best to keep the universes separate. Sure, it cuts off the cameos and the like, but at the same time, if it doesn't fit the general style, why force it or pretend it could happen?

    I don't think Batman participating in greater movie universe stuff is outside the realm of possibility. But Nolan's Batman? Yeah, I can see why, personally.

    * I liked the first Spider-Man film, but I honestly thought it was all downhill from there.

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  7. I can understand the rationale behind this.

    Marvel has no character of almost god-like powers, like SUPERMAN (at least, not such an iconic one), so they can play with their different pieces towards and endgame of having them team-up. They all play at similar level, none of them negates the other, and none of them places the story at a fantasy, completely unrealistic level as SUPERMAN does.

    SUPERMAN and BATMAN work better separately, or as pure icons if you want to put them together. But such a tale would be too far-out for general audiences, I'm afraid, it would lose the contact with reality that Marvel has managed with their latest film releases, and thus, I guess, would lose a substantial part of the general public that has comfortably embraced IRON MAN.

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  8. I like Nolan's decision. As dl316bh observed above, the movie universes are two stylistically different. Marvel has put great care into building a stylistically cohesive film universe for Iron Man, Thor and Captain America. Crossing them over with the X-Men franchise, for example, wouldn't work - even if Fox allowed it. Nolan's Batman just has a completely different aesthetic from Superman - and I don't mean in a Tony Stark-is-a-futurist-and-Thor-is-a-god sort of way. I mean in a Superman-couldn't-exist-in-a-world-as-dark-and-cynical-and-gritty-and-"pseudo-realistic"-as-Nolan's-Batman-verse sort of way. Nolan made a very good point that Bruce's decision to put on the costume and how the city reacts to him would be fundamentally different were there another guy in the costume who could fly.

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  9. It's absolutely silly to keep them seperate. Why would general audiences not buy the concept of Superman/Batman/WW/etc. existing in the same world when they've been depicted that way on TV for decades. If you're part of the crowd going to see Dark Knight,then probably at some point in your childhood you were at least aware that these characters were all friends. If you're an old timer,you probably read the comics back when people actually read comics. If you're younger,you watched Superfriends. If you're even younger than that,you watched (or at least knew of) the Bruce Timm/Paul Dini DC cartoons.
    And if you're currently a kid,you're familiar with the Brave and the Bold cartoon!

    I understand why Nolan may not want to do a team up in his "oh-so-realistic" (think again) series,but what could an Easter egg or two hurt?

    BTW I thought Superman Returns was decent. It wasn't the best movie I've ever watched,but I don't get the hatred for it.

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  10. This is the stupidest idea for a movie I have heard of, no wonder Marvel is kicking DC's butt at the box office. They finally get Batman right and a good Superman movie now their going to have Batman beat up Superman? What Kryptonite in his utility belt! These brainless movie developers thinks that all movie goers are zombie's and will go to see anything they put out, when all their doing is chasing a dollar.

    I for one will not be buying into this fantasy, and hopefully the zombies won't either.

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