Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Warner Brothers had finally figured out what to do with the DC Comics superheroes: Instead of making a Justice League movie that would compete with the existing Batman and Superman franchises, they will do what Marvel Comics is doing, creating franchises around individual heroes but with an eye towards possibly bringing them together somewhere down the road:
The studio is set to announce its plans for future DC movies in the next month. For now, though, it is focused on releasing four comic-book films in the next three years, including a third Batman film, a new film reintroducing Superman, and two movies focusing on other DC Comics characters. Movies featuring Green Lantern, Flash, Green Arrow, and Wonder Woman are all in active development.
This sounds more promising, I think, but a part of me wonders how the Batman franchise, in its current state, could possibly exist in the same world as super-powered extra-terrestrials (Superman, Green Lantern) and figures with ties to characters from Greek mythology (Wonder Woman). For all their high-tech gadgetry and superheroic stylings, there is a palpable, street-level realism to Chris Nolan’s Batman films that these other films would presumably lack.
I mean, the fans and the filmmakers are currently debating whether there is room for Robin in Nolan’s universe. If a character as central to the Batman mythos as that would feel out of place next to Christian Bale’s Dark Knight, just imagine how a character like Superman would look.
That said, the studio has figured out at least one way to keep all these characters on the same page:
Like the recent Batman sequel — which has become the highest-grossing film of the year thus far — Mr. Robinov wants his next pack of superhero movies to be bathed in the same brooding tone as “The Dark Knight.” Creatively, he sees exploring the evil side to characters as the key to unlocking some of Warner Bros.’ DC properties. “We’re going to try to go dark to the extent that the characters allow it,” he says. That goes for the company’s Superman franchise as well.
For me, the thought of exploring Superman’s “evil side” brings to mind one of the lamer subplots in Superman III (1983), quite possibly the worst Superman movie of them all — although Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) does give it a run for its money, in that regard.
At any rate, this last detail has garnered a fair bit of attention and generated a fair bit of discussion. Today, the MTV Splash Page spoke to several comic-book writers — including Kevin Smith, Jeph Loeb and Mark Waid, among others — to see what they had to say about a darker Superman, and their comments are certainly interesting.
Me, I think there is definitely room for the Last Son of Krypton to brood. I have always loved that moment in John Byrne’s Man of Steel where Pa Kent discovers Clark sitting in the shadows, muttering, “They all wanted a piece of me.” But you can only do so much of that if you want to stay true to the character.