There is news today of Chris Nolan getting involved with rebooting or restarting the Superman franchise. This is very interesting news to me. I am a bit fan of comics and one of the first I ever read was Frank Millers “Dark Knight Returns“. Written in 1986 it imagines what would happen if Batman got old as til that point we had only ever seen Batman stories with Batman in his late 20s early 30s. The futuristic world that Frank Miller creates is the standard dystopian one with Bruce Wayne retired from the vigilante world for nearly 20 years, all the other super heroes are gone except Superman who is exclusively in the American’s pocket and does what ever he’s told to do. The story was (and still is) very popular, this book and Frank Millers other, Batman: Year One, where largely influential on the time Burton vision for his Batman stories in the late 80s/ early 90s.
I loved Chris Nolan’s first movie, “Batman Begins”, it rebooted the franchise and got away from the camp, neon soaked, toy pushing Joel Shumacher films. There were a lot a features in that movie that also seemed to call back to Frank Millers Batman work in the 80s. I did find it very interesting that he called the second movie, “The Dark Knight”, in the comic book world Batman has been known by this name for years, but the general punters wouldn’t. There is some wishy washy excuse in the movie that Harvey Dent is to be the White Knight to Batman’s Dark Knight. I never bought! Chris Nolan wants to make the move “The Dark Knight Returns”, the name wouldn’t make sense if there was no movie called “Dark Knight” (see Superman and Batman). It would also be nice to move away from the recent Superman emo flick. While aspects of it looked great it was largely boring.
That’s why the announcement that Chris Nolan is involved in a Superman reboot carries some weight. In “The Dark Knight Returns” Superman features heavily and helps conclude the story when a battle suited 55 year old Batman must face off against Superman and Bruce shows Clark what it is like to be human.
What is not clear to me yet is how long a game Chris Nolan might be playing, is he going to wait until Christain Bale naturally ages enough so that he can plausibly play an older Bruce Wayne/Batman or will he recast, if so who might be the right age and look to play this Batman. My personal choice is … George Cloony, even though Cloony has gone on record and apologised for being the Batman that brought down the franchise. Looking back on the movie he is not the weak point of it, every thing from the script, too many protagonists, antagonists, super sets, super egos got in the way of that move. Clooney however looked like a good Bruce Wayne and I think in 10 years he could look like a good Dark Knight Returns Bruce Wayne, if they forget the nipples he could even look good as Batman.
For those waiting for a “Dark Knight Returns” adaption, be sure to check out the episode called “Legends of the Dark Knight” in the Batman Animated series. In this episode a few kids tell stories about what they think Batman is like. One story is Batman’s encounter with the Mutant boss which is lovely lifted whole from the “Dark Knight Returns”.