Man of Steel director Zack Snyder took the stage after a DC Comics panel at SDCC last week and dropped the Superman/Batman movie seed on the world. MoS actor Harry Lennix even read from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns.
“I want you to remember, Clark…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.”
Snyder first kicked around the idea of DKR right after the release of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. Was this an attempt to upstage the now definitive Batman film with the notion of an adaptation of the Caped Crusader’s most beloved story? Probably not, more likely was him throwing the idea out there, thinking it was a pipe dream. Well, he need not dream any longer. With this announcement, it is clear that Snyder wants us to believe that this is happening.
Though billed as the sequel to MoS, the title is widely thought to be Batman Vs. Superman after it has been discovered Tuesday night that Warner Bros. had registered that domain name and not Superman Vs. Batman. This difference is not so subtle. With Batman’s name first, the conventional wisdom would be that this isn’t just Batman being added to the MoS universe. The intent is to show Batman on equal footing to Big Blue.
While the idea of a DKR adaptation sends shivers up and down the spines of fanboys everywhere, does it really make sense to do it now? DC/Warner are trying to build a new universe, à la Marvel’s The Avengers. If you are trying to gradually introduce all of the players in the Justice League, Superman and Batman are the most likely ones to start with. They are the vehicles that will carry the larger franchise. But pitting your two biggest characters against each other right away in an end of superhero era film is not how to build. DKR or BVS (not to be confused with Buffy the Vampire Slayer) should be the final film, years after The Flash, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (hopefully rebooted), and multiple Batmans and Supermans have already been released, not to mention Justice League flicks.
On the other hand, if DKR is the intention, why not call it The Dark Knight Returns? Chris Nolan and screenwriter David Goyer’s involvement in MoS clearly makes it seem as though they give their blessings for using “The Dark Knight” in the title, not that they could stop it. It is entirely possible that the passage in question is just part of the story and not a full adaptation. If so, then why bother ever having a DKR movie? Perhaps, they don’t want to use the title, so that they can break away from the Nolanverse Batman films or to avoid the lofty expectations. That’s of little consequence, however, as no matter what they call it, this film is going to be the most anticipated comic book film ever.
The Avengers, as characters, have always been a way cooler than its individual parts. Marvel did a great job of making quality films about Iron Man (the first, at least) and Thor but the others have not fared as well. The Justice League members, Bats and Supers anyway, have long been too big to share the screen. They are larger than life characters that have a history of a deep, yet often contentious, friendship. Putting that on screen will be a massive undertaking.
Such a daunting task, Snyder has proven to have the ability to handle. Watchmen and 300 (also Miller’s) were thought to be impossible films but Snyder made them work. However, his Sucker Punch and MoS were hardly up to the standards of those other works. DC Animated has added the pressure by already making a cartoon version of DKR that is flawless. Here’s to hoping that he is up this colossal challenge.