Now that Christopher Nolan has completed his interpretation of the Batman mythology, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. are likely in the process of rebooting the iconic anti-hero. Entrusting a task of that magnitude for the Justice League universe isn’t going to be easy, but as has become the case, debating what directors would be up to the challenge is inevitable.
After director Rian Johnson hit mainstream paydirt with Looper, some might see his writing talent making him a strong contender. But as Johnson explains, pressure to succeed isn’t the only concern for whoever ends up reinventing Batman on the big screen.
Johnson’s name being brought up in the discussion isn’t a total shock, given his recent success with frequent collaborator Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Levitt’s ties to the Batman franchise going forward are still tenuous at best, but his work alongside the proven writing and directing talent of Rian Johnson is as close to an inside-track as we’ve seen so far.
While fans might organize parades or online petitions to give their favorite directors a chance to bring a superhero to life, ultimately, it’s not their call to make. As Johnson explains, the person who inks the deal can’t let mere excitement inform the decision.
Speaking with FlickeringMyth, Johnson praised past depictions of Batman, but isn’t ready to jump head-first into WB’s plans, should the opportunity arise:
“I like that hypothetical. You know, I love Batman, I didn’t grow up reading the comics but ‘Batman’ movies, when that first Tim Burton ‘Batman’ movie came out that kind of defined, in kind of like a weird way for the generation that I was in, that first ‘Batman’ movie in a way it defined what a blockbuster was for me, more so than any of the 70s movies. When that first ‘Batman’ movie hit it was like this cultural volcano that defined what the superhero blockbuster was in a way that was just completely drew me in as a kid. So ‘Batman’ is definitely the one superhero movie franchise that I’m 100% just completely in love with, and I love [Christopher] Nolan’s so much man. Right now I’m just focusing on doing my own thing. And that hypothetical that you mentioned has so many variables to it in terms of what kind of movie they’re looking to make and all of that so, you know, that call hasn’t happened and in the meanwhile I’m not gonna sit by the phone, I’m just gonna keep writing my own stuff.”
It isn’t hard to see what Johnson’s comments are alluding to, since the restrictions placed on Joss Whedon’s Avengers by Marvel are fairly well-known. Johnson, like Whedon, is lauded for both his writing and directing abilities, so the opportunity to tell a story with a tone, cast, or plot dictated by the studio – life-changing as it might be – may not automatically be seen as a dream job. Especially when the attention garnered by his indie-minded Looper has opened doors; walking onto a controlled set seems to be a move in the opposite direction.
Of course, all that is assuming Warner Bros. has as rigid a plan for a shared Justice League movie universe as Marvel. If reports prove true and Batman is being rebooted in JL, then the direction the caped crusader will take in the future is even less clear. There are already rumors of WB starting to reshape Man of Steel to hint at a larger universe, and if that’s the case, the director entrusted with Justice League could set an even narrower path for those to follow.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it won’t be the kind of environment most likely to attract independent writer/directors like Rian Johnson (and possibly why Marvel hasn’t used ‘Phase One’ success to hire nothing but top-tier directors with serious industry clout). Now that comic book fans have not one, but potentially two movie universes to watch, it’ll be increasingly interesting to see which directors wish to take part, and who simply passes.
What do you think of Rian Johnson’s style being used to tell a Batman story? Is that the kind of change you feel DC needs to make in order to distinguish itself, or is it just too far away from what it needs to be successful? Sound off in the comments.
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