Ever since this summer’s The Dark Knight Rises concluded, viewers have been left scratching their heads over the ending and its repercussions. To some, the film seemed to offer up more questions than it did answers.
The main questions that come up tend to be:
- Did Bruce Wayne die?
- Did Alfred imagine the scene with Bruce and Selina in a cafe?
- Is John Blake actually Robin?
- Is John Blake now Batman?
It’s my belief that Bruce Wayne is alive and well — remember the dozen or so autopilot references? — and has now given up the mantle of the Bat, seeing John Blake as the perfect successor. This is all well and good, but there’s the small matter of a Justice League movie on the way for 2015. With Batman being an integral part of the Justice League, how will the Dark Knight fit in with the collection of DC’s finest heroes?
Much like the Avengers, the Justice League has been known to have members come and go over the years. That said, Batman, not to mention Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Aquaman and The Flash, is a vital cog in the group’s dynamic. Then you have the possible inclusion of characters such as Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, Cyborg or Hawkman, just to name a few. The main point here, though, is that you simply can’t have a Justice League movie without Batman. So, does the Justice League movie use Nolan’s Batman as its basis or does it ignore the greatest superhero trilogy of all time? Personally, I struggle to see how Nolan’s Batman can be involved in the Justice League. Whilst there’s no debate that Nolan’s depiction of Batman was brilliant, The Dark Knight Rises just had too many moments that were unfaithful to the character in terms of relating his Bat to the Justice League.
If we’re to take the end of The Dark Knight Rises as literal, we have John Blake in the role of Batman. John Blake, as in a character that was pretty much created purely for the third of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, stepping into the cape and cowl. Are we to expect John Blake to be part of the Justice League? Certainly not. Nolan’s films are brilliant on their own, but the use of John Blake throws all sorts of spanners in the works. Even if it turned out that John Blake’s real name was Dick Grayson, even Jason Todd or Tim Drake, then it could be salvageable, with him taking on the Robin role. Of course, then there is the question of his age. Much like Chris O’Donnell’s Dick Grayson in Batman Forever, John Blake would be too old to take on the role of Robin. Could he go straight to becoming Nightwing, the hero that Dick Grayson becomes after he outgrows the Robin title?
Joseph Gordon-Levitt would make a brilliant Nightwing. Is it really plausible to go straight to Nightwing, bypassing Robin and all the learning that comes with it? Nightwing’s been known to take on the role of Batman at various times over the years, which could be one way out of the ‘no Bruce Wayne as Batman’ pickle that Nolan’s films have finished on. Still, the Justice League needs Batman and, more importantly, it needs to have Bruce Wayne under the cowl, not a character created solely for the purpose of The Dark Knight Rises. The only way around this is for either a Batman cameo in next summer’s Man of Steel or for Batman to be totally recast for Justice League. The most likely outcome seems to be the latter, with a new actor playing Bruce Wayne/Batman.
Previously, there’s been talk of somebody like Ryan Gosling taking on the Batman role — that was during the mooted Justice League movie of a few years ago — and I’d expect to see Batman recast for Justice League. The talk at the moment seems to indicate Warner Brothers taking a reverse approach to Marvel. Marvel brilliantly constructed their Avengers Assemble, slowly introducing characters and weaving them into each others worlds. It seems as if Warner Brothers are going to start with Justice League and then flesh the characters out in spin-off films. I’d fully expect a rebooted Batman to be part of this treatment, with him being introduced in the Justice League movie and then given the solo treatment, launching a new Bat franchise. Whilst I’d have possibly hoped for a small Batman appearance at the end of Man of Steel, with no news on a Batman casting, and the next Superman film only six months away from release, this seems less and less like a possibility.
For all intents and purposes, and despite recent talk of Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Batman in 2015′s Justice League, I’d fully expect to see a new, rebooted Batman teaming up with the likes of Superman, Wonder Woman and The Flash. I’d also expect Justice League to make no reference to Nolan’s fantastic trilogy or his Batman.
Whilst it seems a waste, particularly after Nolan created a magnificent incarnation of Batman, it seems as if those films are best positioned as the director always intended — as their own trilogy, nothing more, nothing less.