Note from Tommy: I’d like to welcome James Abels to the team of Top Hat Sasquatch contributors.
In the massive shadow of the Batman vs. Superman announcement, speculation has crept out of every corner of the Internet. This is big news, for both DC comics, and fans. Though, to me, it feels a bit off, and I’m not referring to Affleck.
It is clear that DC is making strides toward building their movie universe, from the ground up, and it would seem as if The Man of Steel will be the foundation. Although, when I take a closer look, it was in no way seemingly crafted to serve this purpose. It is also evident that maybe the threat was a little too ambitious for a re-introduction to Superman as well. Before you start an online petition, let me explain.
I would consider Superman the quintessential DC character, even though Batman tends to clean up at the box office. What I mean is that Superman is essentially God. Aside from Kryptonite, there isn’t much you can threaten him with. This has always been an issue for DC to face, and translating the character to the big screen makes it even more complex. The stakes need to be high for Superman, and Man of Steel delivered that. Though, where do we go from here? How can the stakes be higher than saving the entire human race?
Upping the Ante
Enter Batfleck. They have eluded by way of Dark Knight Returns quote that the juggernauts of justice may be throwing down, but I have a theory. Obviously they can’t just save planet earth again, we’ve seen that, and one guy did it.
Let’s pretend they fight early. Batman, the box office hero, wins the fight. This is what we gather from the quote, and as unreal as it may seem, this is how it tends to play out in the comics as well. Pretty straight forward, though lacking consequence. We know either of them are going anywhere soon, though if an immense threat were to emerge, jeopardizing the victor…
An instant recipe for high stakes action, and we leave Superman in an interesting position. Bruised, but far from broken, as he overcomes whatever Batman has thrown his way, and must settle his differences to lend him a hand. Slightly reminiscent of the moment seconds after the Dark Knight Returns quote where Bruce suffers a heart attack and Superman catches him.
Assuming Affleck does his job, we will have a much stronger emotional connection with Batman than we did with the humans of earth in Man of Steel, thus seemingly higher stakes. Also if the threat is big enough, we can throw planet earth, or a key landmark or five in the mix. Allowing Superman to save the day, and the movie remaining a Man of Steel sequel. All is well in Metropolis; or is it?
This still doesn’t quite sit well with me. I think, if done right, it’s a good move for fan service and gearing up for DC’s movie universe. Although, I really think Superman needs room to breath. Not to mention a bit more time before we see another actor assume the role of Batman.
Man of Steel left us with a conflicted, inexperienced, Superman who snapped more sky scrapers than his villain. I really feel he needs a proper sequel to both reap what he has sewn and allow him time to master the art of self control. This also allows us to be thrust into a team-up movie with Superman being the “boy scout” that we all expect the character to be. Not to mention elaborating on the Daily Planet subplot that was only teased in the last scene of Man of Steel.
This brings us back to Superman’s issue with scale. There isn’t a threat in this theoretical sequel that can trump saving earth, without the risk of threatening the life of a main character. Nor, without Batman, are there many characters that can bring that same level of tension. He should be saving earth now; not when we first meet the character. Not when he is still learning to use and control his powers.
If DC knew a Batman, Superman team-up was the future of the franchise, why not work that into the first movie? Man of Steel was an entirely insular movie. He fell from the sky, he has no knowledge of other heroes on earth, or are there even other heroes? Were the events of the Dark Knight trilogy just happening “over there?” If so, why did no heroes respond when the earth was being threatened? You would think that kind of thing would have made the evening news.
I think this just shows DC’s lack of foresight in building a universe around their movies. It could have been as simple as ending the movie with Clark Kent, on the job, typing a headline acknowledging Batman’s existence, or further eluding to a possible team-up scenario. The crowd would have gone wild as the credits rolled. It really seems to me that there isn’t much planning on DC’s part, but I sincerely hope they prove me wrong.