UPDATE: My thoughts about the finality and symbolic ending of the Nolan Batman Trilogy were backed up by Chris Nolan himself in an interview posted after my initial article was published. Please see Collider and Film Comment for the interview.
At the time I’m writing this article it has barely been 24 hours since news broke about the possibility of Joseph Gordon-Levitt signing on to play Batman in the planned Justice League film (as reported initially by HitFix and later on here at Modern Myth Media). During this time, the news spread like wildfire over the comic book and superhero universe. The majority of reactions have been overwhelmingly negative. Reps for JGL have done their best to fan the flames by denying the validity of the story but that is like telling water not to be wet, it’s a futile effort.
As I already stated, reactions to this news have been mostly negative. I’ve personally read hundreds of comments, posts, and tweets about this and I can attest to the divisive nature of this story. However, in my opinion, some reactions have lacked a little bit of logic and maturity. I’ve seen some state that if this news came to fruition that it would forever ruin Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. I’ve seen some say this is the worst idea of all-time and the worst decision WB has made since letting Joel Schumacher direct a Batman film. I’ve also seen some reaction from people that took five minutes to decide what they thought before posting a kneejerk reaction. Some of those reactions stated that the idea was interesting; there are ways it could work, and maybe this is the studio’s way of testing fan reaction before making it official.
First things first, there is a TON of speculation in the original article by HitFix. Quite frankly, it’s borderline irresponsible reporting on their part. Look, I get it, I know how the game works, and it’s all about website hits. I’m not accusing them of doing that as they have the right to report whatever they want but I think a little more discretion could have been used. Since there is so much speculation in the article it’s difficult to consider anything even close to being fact. I decided to put together a list of what we can actually take away from this article:
- WB wants to cast JGL as Batman in the forthcoming JL film (supposedly).
- See #1.
- Take a deep breath, get a massage, have a cup of tea, and see #2.
Like a lot of reporting, a popular phrase is “according to sources.” No one wants to go on the record or make anything official. A story breaks like this and all it takes is a few “sources” to cause a silly knee-jerk reaction of thousands of people. Personally, I haven’t decided yet what my official opinion is on this news. I would rather give that once the news is officially confirmed or denied. However, in the age of instant communication and reaction, I know that is a rare occurrence. Instead I want to address the ultimate knee-jerk reaction that annoyed me the most.
To whoever thinks if this news if proved to be true would ruin Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, are you having trouble breathing? I’m amazed and shocked that one piece of casting news could throw away a TRILOGY of films in your eyes. It does not matter in the slightest bit whether JGL is cast as Bruce Wayne, John Blake, Robin Blake, Dick Grayson, or Alfred Freakin’ Pennyworth. That has zero effect on Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. We have no idea what identity JGL would take over if he was cast other than Batman. It could be Blake or Wayne. That information was not made clear in the article but that didn’t stop thousands from assuming it was Blake. Sure, that is the most obvious assumption, but still an assumption.
The Dark Knight Trilogy told a complete story of Bruce Wayne in his career as Batman; A COMPLETE STORY. Batman appeared to sacrifice himself for the city of Gotham cementing his status as a legend, billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne “died” during the occupation of Bane’s army, and the real Bruce Wayne secretly moved on with his life. That completed Chris Nolan’s vision for the story of Bruce Wayne and his career as Batman.
I can already hear some of you saying, “Yeah but what about the last shot with Blake?” That last shot fulfilled Bruce Wayne’s mission statement from earlier in the film and the trilogy itself. Batman was meant to be a symbol to inspire others and “Batman could be anybody…that was the point.” Thanks to the heroic efforts of Bruce Wayne, he made Batman into a legend by the end of The Dark Knight Rises. Yes, there were many ways you could interpret that last shot of TDKR. Blake would become Batman, Blake would become Nightwing, or Blake would become another type of vigilante using some of the gadgets and swag he got from Bruce Wayne. Maybe after he got to the front of the cave and saw everything he decided that he should still be a cop after all. Maybe, he saw the gear, changed his mind completely, went home and had a burger. The mission statement was “Batman could be anybody,” it wasn’t Batman would be anybody.
Justice League, if and when it ever happens, will not have any involvement from the brothers Nolan. Chris Nolan made three Batman films that contained a beginning, middle, and an end. The trilogy will never be affected by any future Justice League or Batman films because Chris Nolan will not be a part of them. This was his trilogy and story to tell and that’s what we got. It was a three part cinematic version of a character that has been around since 1939. There will be many more Batman films in the future and they will probably continue long after our bodies are buried in the ground.
The character of Batman is available for everyone in this world to enjoy. I think that sometimes our lifelong love for Batman causes us to be defensive when we hear a piece of news that WE think could negatively affect future iterations. Maybe we should focus our opinions for a time when news is actually confirmed and we have a better idea of what’s coming. Let’s not allow our defense of a character we love turn into pretentious behavior. We were just given arguably the best superhero trilogy of all-time; take some time and enjoy it. When we finally receive some official news about Justice League and who the new Batman is we can address it, debate it, and look forward to it as much as we want. Until that day comes, let’s just take a breath and be thankful for what we have because it may never be this good again.