christian bale the dark knight rises

“You’ve given them everything,” Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman tells Christian Bale’s Batman in The Dark Knight Rises.  “Not everything,” Batman replies; “not yet.”

Might that be Christopher Nolan’s message to DC fans as well?

The news has been spreading like wildfire in a wheat field since yesterday, across pretty much every site on the internet, originating from Latino Review: rumor has it that WB’s long gestating Justice League film is back in the works, with Christopher Nolan possibly producing, Zack Snyder (possibly) directing, and — perhaps the biggest bombshell — Christian Bale returning to play Batman alongside Henry Cavill’s Superman.

Now, granted, let’s temper our enthusiasm here — this is Warner Brothers, which have an exemplary track record of killing DC on film properties before launch.  This is the studio that managed to halt up production on a David Goyer (co-writer of The Dark Knight trilogy) penned Flash film, a Goyer penned Green Arrow film, a Joss Whedon penned Wonder Woman film.  If any studio can ground this gravy train, it’s WB.

And to be fair, this isn’t set in stone yet — no official announcement’s been made, none of the “core” people who’d be involved with the project have come out and said anything…but the major “geek sites” across the web — Latino Review, Ain’t it Cool News, Batman on Film — are certainly taking this with a “this sounds damn likely” attitude.  And let’s not overlook the fact that, as Latino Review points out in their own report, their track record is pretty impeccable.  These are the guys who broke “Heath Ledger is the Joker” and “Brandon Routh is Superman”…so if anyone’s likely to know, it’s them.

If nothing else, this is an absolutely brilliant business decision on WB’s part.  WB has been trying to get a Justice League movie off the ground for a looong time now, and always with distressingly low degrees of success, from the terror of George Miller’s Justice League: Mortal to the most recent script by Gangster Squad writer Will Beale, apparently thrown out the window because it was lousy.  WB is clearly desperate to compete with Marvel’s The Avengers any way they can, but how do you challenge that beheamoth?

Simple — by bringing in another behemoth.

alex-ross-justice-league

The Christopher Nolan Batman films, in case you hadn’t heard, earned over two billion dollars worldwide.  They were (generally speaking) adored by fans, got terrific reviews, and raised the game and stakes for the entire superhero genre.  Bringing Christian Bale’s Batman into a team-up movie is akin to putting Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man (the obvious breakout star of the Marvel stable) into The Avengers, only moreso.  The fact that everybody assumed this would never happen arguably only makes it sweeter.  It’s an impossible fanboy dream…brought to life.

Creatively, there’s some more puzzling questions to be answered.  How does The Dark Knight Rises’ ending — with Bruce Wayne finally putting his anger behind him and apparently retiring to Italy — affect Justice League’s set-up?  Will Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake reappear?  How will the filmmakers be able to balance the (comparatively) realistic Bale/Nolan vision of Batman with a guy in a red cape who can fly, a dude with a magic power ring and a man who runs faster than the speed of sound.  I smell about a million op eds coming down the pike from Geek nation to answer those questions…

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This article was first posted on March 5, 2013