Ya know, a girl can get exhausted trying to keep track of all the news and rumors going around about the future of The Justice League movie. You figure, back in 2007, when Warner Bros. was making plans for a Justice League movie – only to scrap it in the end – has to be one of the biggest regrets or missed opportunities felt by the company in a long time. It could’ve worked. It was only a year after the cancellation of Justice League: Unlimited, which would have kept the characters fresh in the minds of its former audience. Even if their plans for the movie were a response to Marvel’s announcement to build a franchise of movies leading to The Avengers, which was itself a response to Batman Begins, Warner Bros. definitely had less work to do to create a successful movie. But somewhere along the way everything fell apart and then the Marvel machine of movies took over. Warner Bros. only saving grace was Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, which came to an end last year at the same time as The Avengers. And while The Dark Knight Rises was the final film in The Dark Knight trilogy, The Avengers was merely a jumping off point for more Marvel movies and franchises.
The problem here is that Warner Bros. either had no foresight into the future of superheroes or they failed to understand the appeal of a superhero team-up movie. It’s not like they weren’t trying to branch off with other franchises. Unfortunately, Superman Returns (2006) was too much of a love letter to the Donner films, and a mess of a story, to appeal to audiences and Green Lantern (2011) was…not good. The only DC property making any money was Christopher Nolan’s Batman. So it certainly wasn’t a surprise that, with the announcement of a Superman reboot, Nolan would remain attached as a producer and co-writer with David S. Goyer and Zack Snyder directing. It was a way for Warner Bros. to hopefully reinvigorate Superman by cashing in on Nolan’s well-earned respect and admiration from movie audiences and comic book fans alike. Even Snyder still had some clout leftover despite Sucker Punch. With their styles and imaginations combined, Man of Steel (2013) was supposed to be the springboard from which other DC properties would follow even if Nolan was stepping away from superheroes after this film.
All well and good, especially if you’re planning to build a universe occupied by other heroes. But then a couple of things happened. One was The Avengers. No one can deny that the entire reason The Justice League movie was pushed to the forefront was due to the box office breaking success of The Avengers. Within days of The Avengers passing the billion dollar mark, Warner Bros. wanted a Justice League movie yesterday. And, for a while, it seemed like things were moving along quickly. A script was nearly completed and the search for a director and cast was underway. Time passed and very little information was available except for a possible and probably ill-timed release date of 2015, around the same time as The Avengers sequel, an unconfirmed hero roster, and the consistent lack of a director attached to the project. Compare this to the announcement of Star Wars Episodes VII, VIII, and IX where it seemed like every director in Hollywood was clamoring to be a part of the project. The second thing that happened? The underwhelming performance of Gangster Squad at the box office – a movie written by Will Beall, the writer of the completed Justice League script. Are you surprised that they took another look at his script and tossed it out? If your plan is to go from Superman to the Justice League, then you’d better be sure Justice League is a solid film.
Which leads us to the latest round of rumors. Apparently, Nolan might not be entirely out of the superhero game as several websites are reporting that Nolan may be staying on as the “Godfather” of DC properties, overseeing the shared universe that will begin with Man of Steel. It wouldn’t be an entirely bad decision on the part of Warner Bros. In fact, it’s probably their best option considering how much audiences associate Nolan with Batman and now Superman. Keeping him on board would ensure a consistent tone throughout the DC properties in the same way that the Marvel movies display. This is an entirely unconfirmed rumor, by the way, but that doesn’t stop the internet from speculating, leading many to jump to the conclusion that Nolan’s continued involvement in the DC Universe would almost certainly mean Christian Bale’s return as Batman. It’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility since Bale has gone on record saying he’d only come back as Batman if Nolan was involved, but I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that the whole thing sounds like a bad idea.
Now, before some of you start hurling insults and rotten veggies at me, hear me out. Christopher Nolan’s a guy with a lot of big ideas that shouldn’t be confined entirely to superhero movies. If he stays on as a producer and a consultant, that’s one thing. That still gives him the ability to do the projects he wants to do while probably pulling Warner Bros. and DC out of the fire. But there’s a difference between Christopher Nolan and Kevin Feige. Kevin Feige is a producer. That’s his job. Christopher Nolan is a filmmaker and we’ve seen what he can do with both adapted and original material. This is not a man who should just be doing comic book movies. And if Bale were to somehow come back and play Bruce Wayne/Batman, where does that leave The Dark Knight Trilogy? That was a complete story, Nolan’s complete story. To bring Bruce back, again, defeats the purpose of the three films, especially after he’s passed the torch on to John Blake and I honestly can’t see Blake as Batman opposite Henry Cavill as Superman. The theory going around is Superman would find Bruce at the end of Man of Steel and convince him to come out of retirement, but again, you’d have to address the fact that Blake was given the keys to the cave, so he’s either filling the shoes of Batman or he’s patrolling the rooftops of Gotham as Nightwing. And if he’s Batman, wouldn’t that make things a little awkward when Bruce comes back for the cape and cowl? Things might get a little uncomfortable in the bat-cave is all I’m sayin’.
Again, this is all rumor and speculation at this point. But if Warner Bros. and DC want to build multiple franchises, they’d better get their act together soon because Marvel isn’t slowing down and they’re already two steps ahead.