The Batman will be making his big-screen debut just a few months from now, but comic book fans are already well into the speculation phase of the comeback for one of the world’s best-known heroes. So, what will Batman look like on the big screen? Here are some of the most promising theories.
The Dark Knight
The Dark Knight was, arguably, Christopher Nolan’s magnum opus. Taking the caped crusader as a starting point, the filmmaker crafted a modern-day detective story that explores the concept of vengeance. A lot of Batman lore was packed into The Dark Knight, and while some elements, such as the utility belt and the Batsignal, have remained constant, others, like the cowl and the Dark Knight logo, have changed quite a bit.
The Man of Steel
Man of Steel, the latest big-budget Superman movie, solidified Henry Cavill’s status as the definitive Superman. The British actor plays the iconic character with charm and subtlety, in a refreshingly understated performance that serves as a breath of fresh air after the sometimes-volatile antics of previous films in the series. In addition to looking cool in a t-shirt, Cavill’s Clark Kent could become the perfect boyfriend material, provided you’re into your some old high school heartache. If you’re looking to stock your Netflix queue with a few tony, no-nonsense superhero movies, then Man of Steel is the perfect fix. It helps that Brandon Routh, who steps into the role made famous by Reeve, looks perfectly comfortable in his Spandex.
Do you ever wonder what would happen if superheroes actually got together and hung out? Well, you can get a good idea by checking out the latest Marvel blockbuster, Avengers: Age of Ultron. It starts, somewhat improbably, with Nick Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson) coming face-to-face with his counterpart, the Scarlet Witch (portrayed by Elizabeth Olsen). After the pair of senior agents trade insults, they resolve to get their hands dirty and take down the arrogant Dr. David Banner (played by Mark Ruffalo). The rest, as they say, is history.
There’s a lot of wit and humor packed into this latest installment of the Avengers franchise, but it also features some brilliant action sequences and a deep dive into the nature of evil. It may not be perfect (the pacing is a little sluggish at times), but as a popcorn movie, it doesn’t get much better than this. In terms of pure entertainment, there’s not a bad seat in the house.
The year was 2016, and it had been a long time since we’d seen a really good super-villain movie. While Marvel Studios was busy dominating the box office with its slate of well-received releases, some enterprising moviegoers decided to cash in on the craze and crafted a proposal for what would become one of the biggest and most profitable franchise films of all time: Suicide Squad. The original idea came from Hollywood screenwriter Daniel Waters, and the resulting screenplay, written with help from Kurt Johnstad, features a team of anti-heroes who perform missions for the government, only to go rogue and act on their own whims. The movie stars an all-star cast, including Rick Flag (played by Viola Davis), the only woman on the team, who has to prove her worth to keep her job, alongside her sidekicks, Harley Quinn (played by Margot Robbie) and Boomerang (played by Will Smith).
Black Panther is, first and foremost, a commercial vehicle. That’s not a criticism; in fact, it’s an observation informed by 20 years of Marvel Cinematic Universe experience. This is, by any standard, an incredibly lavish production featuring breathtaking sets and costumes. But as exciting as all that is, it’s the performances that really make the film. Michael B. Jordan portrays the eponymous superhero with such charisma that it’s easy to forget he’s actually playing a fictional character. Letitia Wright, who plays the film’s lead villain, is even more fantastic; you’ll remember her long after the credits have rolled. The movie also marks the cinematic debut of Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clarke. Her character, the Mother of Dragons, is an excellent introduction to the character, and also functions, somewhat unusually, as the protagonist of the film.
Deadpool was, for many, the surprise hit of 2016. The film features Marvel’s most popular anti-hero, who first appeared, in an exaggerated form, as a supporting character in Deadpool 2. Unlike most of his peers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Wade Wilson (played by Reynolds) is not a perfect specimen; he’s a foul-mouthed, alcoholic, chain-smoking, drug-addicted bastard who, despite his obvious drawbacks, is still able to function as a viable member of society. For fans of the character, it’s a bit of a dream come true; for those who haven’t read the comics, it’s a chance to experience a character like Wade directly in the action movie world.
Finally, let’s not forget about Gotham City, the setting of the hugely successful Batman films. The Dark Knight is, in many ways, the ultimate showcase for the city; it’s easily the most expensive film to ever use its settings and costumes. While the cityscape itself has been mostly unchanged since the 1940s, the way we experience it has, since 1995, been updated to look incredibly realistic and, at times, digitally enhanced.
There’s talk of a potential fifth installment in the Batman series, and while it would be wonderful to see the caped crusader team up with some of his famous rogues, such as the Joker or the Riddler, it would also be amazing to see how Gotham City has evolved since its inception.
As exciting as the future of cinema looks, it’s important to remember that none of this will ever be real. None of these films will ever boast the same budget, the special effects will never be this good, and, for the most part, the heroes and villains will have to act within the bounds of strict realism. For some, it might even be a stretch to call it acting at all. So, when the lights finally go out, and the cameras stop rolling, it’s important to remember that these are, at heart, stories, and nothing more.