Matt Reeves’ THE BATMAN Presents A New Opportunity
If you’ve been paying attention over the last weekend then you’ve been introduced to the bug eyed Batman suit complete with his own set of faux-chainmail gauntlets. And while you’re sure this is the worst or best design flaw in Dark Knight history since the infamous nipple suit of the 1990s. There are plenty of flaws that could be on the horizon if Matt Reeves’ Batman blockbuster isn’t done correctly.
Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s penultimate creation of the 1930s isn’t nearly as iconic as the complicated world they built for him. A world that has been painstakingly dissected in almost a century of modern fiction. From Batman’s diversification of his rogues gallery to the drudgery and misery of Gotham city. A dissection that has repeatedly resulted in that Gotham city patient being stitched back together in the manner of which she came.
We don’t just need a new movie that rehashes the same old monotonous tone of vigilantism. We need a movie post-biopsy misshapen and stitched back together to form the very meaning of change. The new Batman needs a Gotham with more in common than Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and less in common with the red tape of cop procedurals.
Gotham did this. To great effect, I might add. While the show itself may have seemed off-key, bastardised and bottom line insulting to the seasoned viewer. It allowed for the writers to create a world unseen before. A world changed by metamorphosis. Stricken by sadness. So vile. So violent. Yet still, somewhat human. All so familiar. That is the true depressing reality of Batman.
So I’ve put together a list of what worked well for me in Gotham. More importantly, what Matt Reeves and co need to communicate through the next Batman film.
1. Use the Entire Rogues Gallery
You think I’m talking about the classic villains whose stories have been told and retold countless times over. But no. I’m not talking about the Penguins or the Jokers of the world. I’m referring to the original villains. The obscure villains that border on the topic of absolute ridiculousness.
Season 1 Episode 3 of GOTHAM depicts a villain’s modus operandi to handcuff his victim’s to weather balloons. Leaving them to a fate resulting to either suffocate in the thin atmosphere (if they last that long) or for the weather balloon to burst and they plummet to their deaths.
While my argument may seem a bit hollow, the one thing I took from that specific episode of GOTHAM is that if those writers could pen an episode based on a villain so ridiculous. So why can’t we have the B-plus players of Batman’s rogues gallery? Like Clayface, Killer Croc, or even the Madhatter? The latter, of which, who had an ongoing story-line throughout Seasons 3 to 5.
Batman writers need to stop relying on The Joker and Penguin as their primary crutch. It’s boring, tried and we’ve been living it since the Adam West show of the 60s.
Move on, people!
2. Don’t spend 3 Movies Retelling the Origin Story
If this point doesn’t get me some haters then I don’t know what will. I love the Dark Knight trilogy. There, I said it.
What I don’t love is the ongoing diatribe of Nolan’s Batman refusing to move past the death of his parents or Alfred Pennyworth constantly bringing up how this isn’t how your father would do things. Or the cringeworthy, “why do we fall?” scene that is seared into the brains of every meme sharer around the world.
GOTHAM established a broken child and then moved on from it. Yes, young Bruce had to learn how to deal with the death of Mr and Mrs Wayne. But he did just that. He dealt with it. We didn’t spend 3x Blockbuster movies going on about the birth of Batman. Instead, we learnt and grew with Bruce as he gradually spent 5 years learning how to be Batman.
Just like we learnt and grew with Bruce in GOTHAM so to do Warner Brothers executives need to learn and grow with their greatest intellectual property. Stop assuming Batman audiences are stupid. We know who Batman is. We don’t need a long drawn out origin story. Hell, we don’t even need an origin story. We’ve had over 8 movies that do just that.
3. Understand the Lore
Love or hate the show. Once GOTHAM was well into its third season there was a feeling the GOTHAM writers room understood the Batman lore. Whether this was through sheer creativity, in-depth character research or perhaps a bit of both?
Showrunner Bruno Heller assembled a writers room that lived and breathed the bonkers crazy world of GOTHAM. Tonally the show just looked and felt right. It wasn’t another city.
With that came an understanding of the characters that inhabited that world. Understanding of the surreal maelstrom that circled around each and every villain of Batman. From the balloonman to Jervis Tetch right through to Four Jokers?! Sure, why not.
It was a re-creation of everyone’s favourites. Favourites that although re-created, looked and felt like the original Big Bad Guys. What motivated, what inspired and what drove them to their acts of depravity wasn’t washed over in this show. This is what Matt Reeves and Co need to capitalise on in order to make BATMAN so great.
4. Gotham is its own Villain
Every millennial remembers the first time they saw that opening sequence of Batman: The Animated Series. The tall spires of GOTHAM city to the ageless cars resembling futuristic rolls royce’s to the brooding malevolence of the city itself.
It’s moments like these that emanate from the GOTHAM tv show. Owing to why I gave it more of a chance.
What GOTHAM did that the 90s Batman cartoon failed to do was capitalise on Gotham city being a physical thing. An entity all on its own. A maniacal force to be reckoned with. One that gave back to the citizens of Gotham and took back twice over.
I never felt this from the Nolan movies. Nolan’s Gotham just felt like here is a city. Copy and paste Batman.
Gotham shouldn’t be just any city. It should be a unique god-like force that various criminal elements inhabit. Where corruption and violence are as commonplace as the looming shadows from endless skyscrapers. Where its dark personality rivals the brooding of Batman himself.
You should never feel safe in Gotham City.
5. Get the Duality of Bruce Wayne/Batman Right
They’ve never got the duality of Bruce Wayne and Batman’s character quite right. Not like the comic books.
*Fixes elitist belt*
You can argue that Michael Keaton’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne is spot on with what you’ve forever read in the comic books. But then his Batman falls short. He’s not vengeful justice seeking dark knight that you need him to be. While Christian Bale’s Batman was everything you needed him to me with the exception that his Bruce Wayne fell short over three 2.5 hour movies. And then there’s the other guys – but we won’t talk about them.
What GOTHAM did right in exploring the various facets of Bruce Wayne’s character is lay the ground work for a duality of two distinct personalities to manifest themselves in the later years to come. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Capitalise on the groundwork Gotham has laid out.
Matt Reeves’ upcoming Batman movie gives Robert Pattinson a terrific opportunity to explore an aspect of the Batman/Bruce Wayne personality that we haven’t seen before. The vengeful dark knight blended with the brilliant philanthropist and scientist that is Bruce Wayne.
Time will tell if they get it right.