Man of Steel gave me everything I’ve ever wanted in a Superman film. I was so happy that Superman didn’t have to deal with Kryptonite islands or go on UN peacekeeping missions. I was so excited to see where the series could go from Man of Steel and watch Superman’s character develop, much like Bruce Wayne in Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. But then Comic Con happened.
Warner Brothers knew that Marvel would impress the crowd with big announcements, so they had to compete and somehow steal the show. It wouldn’t have been enough to announce that Man of Steel 2 was in development. There may have been polite applause, but nothing more. So they went ahead and jumped the shark. When they showed the Batman/Superman logo, the fans and fanboys around the world went ballistic.
After that excitement died down, the entire internet community scratched their heads and thought, “Huh? But how are they going to pull that off?” That is truly a mystery. They are currently in casting/pre-production and the clock is ticking. The movie will be released on July 17th, 2015. I have heard some rumors that worry me. I’m concerned they are rushing the production and trying to copy Marvel’s every move as DC sets up its own Avengers. The thing is, they don’t need to. If I had my way, Batman would not be rebooted for several more years, Superman would finish out his trilogy, The Flash and Wonder Woman would get their own movies respectively and everyone would forget Ryan Reynold’s Green Lantern ever existed.
The following are ways to keep Superman vs Batman from sucking. I know I’m prejudging a movie that hasn’t been made, but what else is a fanboy supposed to do with his rage?
5 – Change the Title
Sure, the title of Superman vs Batman gets people’s attention, but it feels like nothing more than a ‘Godzilla vs King Kong’ gimmick. And the audience isn’t stupid, we all know that the “vs” is unnecessary. Superman and Batman may fight once in the movie, but they’ll eventually join forces to take down an even bigger threat in the end. Also, how long could an actual fight between the two last? At this point, I’d like to profess my bias towards Batman and say that he’d win because he has a Kryptonite bullet, blah blah blah… but I think we all know that Batman can’t really compete with an alien who is powered by our sun. The “vs” in this movie will be more of an ethical argument. Batman will keep nagging Superman that killing people (even enemies) is wrong. If they’re going to keep the “vs,” they might as well call it Batman chides Superman.
This movie needs to be called what it truly is, it’s not a heroes-exchange-fisticuffs movie. We got that in the first half of Avengers (for some reason). Instead it should be called World’s Finest or Batman/Superman: World’s Finest (for marketing reasons).
4 – Keep Batman in a Supporting Role
I know that half of the title has been dedicated to Batman, so it feels like a 50/50 screentime share. But let’s not forget, this is a sequel to Man of Steel. This is still Superman’s movie. I feel that he is being robbed of the character development that other comic movies have given their characters in superior second movies. Just look at Spider-Man 2, Dark Knight and X2 for great examples of movies that found greatness after they finished with the standard obligatory origin story.
This movie needs to follow the events of Man of Steel, with Clark/Supes at the forefront. Because we’re getting an all new/old Batman in Ben Affleck’s weathered character, we should get an introduction to the character and have him steal scenes as the great character he is. Batman is a ninja/shadow. He will be best used in this movie when he appears during critical moments. Obviously he and Superman will have to “battle” at some point and his role will be crucial at the end of the movie. I’d say that Batman should get 30 minutes of screen time. Let him steal the movie from Cavill, but don’t make him be the focal point. How else are we going to give attention to Clark, Lois and Perry at the Daily Planet? Keep in mind, a villain will also be introduced early on, so too much Batman will take away from Superman’s development.
3 – Don’t Overcrowd It
Speaking of character introductions, there are a lot of casting rumors surrounding the Superman vs Batman production. Currently, they are looking to cast a small part for Wonder Woman. It may end up as little more than a cameo, but she’s still a character that needs a much better introduction than in a movie crowded with characters from Metropolis, Gotham and a villain or two sprinkled in as well. There’s also talk of casting an actor to play Nightwing. This is just too much. Sure Ben Affleck is supposed to play an old, grizzled Batman, but are they really going to add Nightwing without showing his time as Robin?
What really needs to be done is the following. There should be an extended stinger mid-credits (ala Marvel flicks). Superman visits Bruce Wayne in the Batcave. Superman and Bruce talk a bit about growing threats and Superman asks if they can handle them on their own. Bruce then pulls up a few files on his giant Bat-computer showing footage of The Flash and Wonder Woman among others and Batman says “There are others.” Roll more credits. Boom! That’s the way this movie should lead in to other character origin stories and an eventual Justice League. DC/Warner Brothers just needs to slow it down a bit.
2 – Have Superman Deal with the Consequences of Man of Steel
While the majority of the damage to Metropolis was due to Zod’s terraforming ship, it is clear that the city was leveled. Not only was the damage in the billions of dollars, but thousands of lives were most likely lost. The next movie needs to address the climactic battle. I have a feeling that many citizens will not see Superman as the hero he is meant to be. The Kryptonians were looking for him after all, so he will receive a large part of that blame. He may even do his best to rebuild the city to its former glory.
This brings us to the last way to make Superman vs Batman great.
1 – It All Comes Down to the Villain(s)
At some point in the Man of Steel series, Lex Luthor will need to be involved. I’m going to put this out there and hope my arm isn’t ripped off – The Luthor character has never been done justice on film. Gene Hackman was arrogant, but mostly hokey. Kevin Spacey looked the part, but he was a poorly written character. We will need an all new Lex Luthor and I’m okay with Warner Brothers messing with his story a little. In fact he should not even play the villain in Superman vs Batman. Instead, he should be a man who the audience should feel for. He should be someone we can relate to. His villainous progression should not happen until the 3rd Man of Steel.
As we glimpsed in Man of Steel, there was a Lexcorp building. So it’s obvious that he’s going to be a wealthy capitalist. However, instead of making him the smarmy, greedy one-note villain we’ve all seen before, what if he was the driving force (and money) behind repairing Metropolis. That act alone would guarantee him good PR. His status and the public’s trust would be far higher than that of Superman. Stay with me here. What if he actually is a good person who is worried about his city?
Also, by including Luthor as the city’s savior, it would be a great opportunity to bring Bruce Wayne into the picture. Picture this, Lex Luthor holds several fundraisers asking billionaires to restore Metropolis. Bruce Wayne attends a party and is even an acquaintance of Luthor’s. Together, they go on cable news shows demanding that Superman leaves the planet so no further damage comes to Earth. There you have a clear reason why there would ever be any opposition between Batman and Superman.
Also, Luthor would be doing this for the right reason. Not because he is mad that Superman is a better specimen than he (as seen throughout the character’s history), but because he becomes the voice of the people. There would need to be a tragedy in Luthor’s life, inadvertently caused by Superman, to fully bring about the villainous turn and cause him to bring down Superman.
So beyond actually establishing Lex Luthor as a 3-dimensional villain, there does need to be another outside threat that brings the two heroes together in the end. Because Superman fought his physical equal in the first movie, it would need to be a crafty villain where physicality does little to hurt him. Perhaps someone like Brainiac.
DC and Warner Brothers, feel free to use these ideas. What Marvel does right is making unapologetic comic book flicks that stay true to the comic source. If you do want to follow in their footsteps, take risks and stay true to the comics. You will make boatloads of money and keep fans happy.