I am all for more Batman films. Hell, without Batman films, my life feels a little bit stale, as though the rest of cinema is downhill from this point on. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but my point remains that I want Batman to make a return to the box office. Ben Affleck doesn’t count. However, I do not want someone to try and skip the origin story and try picking up where Christopher Nolan left off. It would be an easy thing to do, as the Dark Knight trilogy has already got a superb Batman universe off the ground. We love seeing how they are going to re-imagine all of these Batman characters and the story always ties itself up so perfectly.
However, I want the trilogy to be left well alone. The obvious reason is that it is one of the greatest film trilogies out there and when you go near them, we often end up dragging that trilogy into a lesser light (Pirates and the Caribbean is a good example). But that is just me being scared, so let me put four more reasons forward about how I think that the Dark Knight trilogy is better off left where it is. A shining example of untouched, great cinematic work.
4 – THERE IS NO TIME LEFT FOR A STORY
There was one point I toyed with making a fourth Batman film in the Nolan universe, but just setting it before the Dark Knight Rises rather than after it. We wouldn’t have to write Bruce Wayne back into the story; we could just jump forward to sometime in between the previous films and start a new story with Batman at the height of his glory. Well, looking a little deeper, there isn’t really a lot of possibilities left available to us. The Dark Knight ends with the Harvey Dent act pretty much negating the need for the Batman and Batman Begins was pretty much segueing into the Dark Knight, with the good guys trying to chase down the mob.
There is a better reason though. One of the things I love about the Dark Knight trilogy is the gap in between the films. I like to think that Batman spends most of his career, fighting weak street thugs. Not every day is filled with taking on larger than life villains. There is a line from Dark Knight Rises that might be tough to recall, but Bane accuses Bruce of letting ‘Victory defeat him’. Since the Joker (or we could argue since Ra’s Al Ghul, as the Joker is pretty much an unpredictable mobster rather than a physical threat), Batman has never needed to push himself to win and that is one of the main reasons the bad guys nearly win in the final film. I want the trilogy to have these gaps in time to accentuate the threat levels in the actual film. There is nothing like Bane out there and that is one of the exciting things about that movie.
Besides, the direction of slipping movies in between the games Nolan left is finite at best, which defeats the point of creating an endless supply of Batman movies. The franchise would get bloated and crumble under itself.
3 – YOU CANNOT PLAY NOLAN AT HIS OWN GAME
Christopher Nolan masterfully threw the Dark Knight Trilogy together. I would class those films as a form of art, because every detail is studied and applied with extreme precision. It also really made Batman dark. Tim Burton’s depiction seems cartoonish in comparison (that was one of the ideas behind the direction in fairness). This was Batman in the real world and we could tell that from the anti-government messages hidden into certain scenes and the corruption of the police force.
It would be insanely difficult for a director to mimic that. Who could follow Nolan? Even if someone did study the story hard, create a terrific script to work with and did the impossible and came up with a worthy sequel, it would be: a Nolan copy. This isn’t a bad thing, but the director in question would not be able to add any of his or her own depiction into the mix, fearing that the style could cause the whole film to come crumbling to its feet. So what do you do? Go darker? Not likely. Go lighter? Does it still fit in the Dark Knight trilogy? Trying to continue the trilogy would be trespassing on Nolan’s territory, which is a great reason to back off and start a whole new Batman franchise, rather than trying to work with this one.
2 – REALISM ONLY GETS YOU SO FAR
Don’t get me wrong, I love a realistic Batman. Every time we hear Nolan’s plans for the Bat, we wonder how he is going to do it. How can Catwoman fit in the realistic world of the Dark Knight trilogy? Every time it works, which nullifies this point slightly, but it will always be a harder trick to pull off. Batman has some weird villains out there and some of them are just not suited to the Dark Knight world. Mr. Freeze would need a complicated backstory to explain his mutated form. Clayface would be impossible to explain. And there is a great sadness that we will never get to see Poison Ivy or Killer Croc in the Dark Knight universe.
So this is a strong argument for why we should make our next Batman franchise one that can support some of the wackier characters. For one, it would be unique enough to not be playing Nolan at his own game and it also gives us several villains and plot points to work with. We could get the Lazarus pit into the movie, if we fancied going back to the League of Shadows. There are the creepy Joker bombs. It seems that there is a chance to do something a little different, which tells me that we should try and make a new depiction of Batman, rather than returning to the Dark Knight trilogy.
1 – BATMAN FINALLY GOT A HAPPY ENDING
Spoilers for the Dark Knight Rises and the comic book ‘Dark Knight Returns’ below.
Batman is an interesting character. He is a man so fuelled by anger that he turns to vigilantism to punish the world that took his parents from him. Every now and again, it becomes clear that this is destroying him. Dark Knight Rises puts forward the idea that he doesn’t even help causes. His return in that movie sees his chase across Gotham work as a distraction that allows Bane’s plans to work. It also puts forward the idea that he is addicted to fighting crime and cannot find a life outside of that. This is the plot of one of the finest Batman graphic novels out there, Dark Knight Returns. Batman comes out of retirement, because he cannot live without fighting crime, and it very nearly kills him.
Then Nolan gave Batman a world where he gets this happy ending. He escapes the cowl and has a happy life with Selina Kyle away from the corruption of Gotham. This is a character that always gets sucked back into the world of crime-fighting and is cursed to meet his end fighting the one enemy he finally cannot defeat. There seemed to be no way Bruce Wayne could get out of his own narrative alive. And Nolan managed that. Nolan felt that Batman deserved to finally get his happy ending, which is why that final few moments, where we see Bruce Wayne happy and contented, without the Batman, is so glorious.
Could we take that away from him? Could we pull him back into another adventure, bringing back the idea that Batman is an addiction he cannot break? That would be the final straw telling us that there is no happy ending for the character; there would no longer be any denying it. In Batman, we always put off this idea that he is always walking a fine line between death and victory, but when it is questioned, his morality becomes painfully obvious. Personally, I want the Batman to stay ‘dead’, hiding away from a world that nearly broke him – that did break him – and living out the rest of his life, happy, as Alfred always wanted. This is the main reason the Dark Knight trilogy should be left alone. It is the one strand of Batman fiction that sees him leave the story with a smile on his face.