By now you've probably heard the news from Comic Con that Man of Steel will be getting a sequel and that Batman will appear in the movie. Head over to Modern Myth Media for the official press release and to Batman of Film for Bill's thoughts on the news from the perspective of one of the biggest Batman fans out there. When I heard this news yesterday my immediate reaction was a lot of excitement. I enjoyed Man of Steel and I thought it showed a lot of potential for what could become a great Superman franchise. And obviously I love Batman. So the prospect of getting more of that character is always welcome news.
Having slept on the news I'm still mostly excited about it. I have my concerns about how they will portray Batman within Superman's world given the obvious difference that Batman has no superpowers. You can't make Batman look overwhelmed by every other hero or villain or else you risk making him insignificant. And you can't invent too unrealistic things to bring Batman up to a level he isn't overwhelmed by superpowered people or you risk him not being taken seriously by the audience. There's also the question of who they cast. Christian Bale couldn't have been more perfect IMO. And he's still going to be pretty fresh in people's minds when this comes out in 2015. So there are a lot of potential obstacles in the way when it comes to making this sequel.
Bill over at Batman of Film says he heard that the studio wasn't completely satisfied with the success of Man of Steel, thus possibly prompting the decision to put such a proven commodity as Batman in the sequel. But the fact that it's a sequel to Man of Steel is significant because it strongly suggests it will continue to focus primarily on Clark as did Man of Steel. Making Batman a sort of secondary character takes some of the pressure off how he will be viewed by the audience. And by setting Batman within this world that has already been built in Man of Steel they can shape him to fit within it easier than if they had to create an environment for Batman out of thin air like in Batman Begins.
The way I see this playing out is that Bruce Wayne was present in Man of Steel all along (as the Wayne Enterprises satellite suggests). We just didn't see him because this was Clark/Superman's origin story. And Batman makes his presence known in the sequel because he witnessed all of the crazy stuff that happened during Man of Steel and he's worried about everyone's safety. Seeing as Batman is kind of neurotic to begin with and has devoted his life to protecting people, it makes complete sense to me that he would at the very least have some suspicion about Clark and his ability to destroy things and hurt people. So the basic outline to me would be Clark doing his thing as Superman and as a reporter at the Daily Planet while Bruce keeps tabs on him to make sure he's not going to fly off the handle. Meanwhile, Lex Luther kind of parallels Bruce as a corporate competitor and someone who is suspicious of Superman after the events of Man of Steel.
Bringing in Lex as the villain is a way to walk that line with Batman between not having to worry about his lack of superpowers making him look insignificant and still having a threat big enough that justifies having Batman and Superman team up. Having Bruce and Lex be competing businessmen is a way for Clark to get involved with them, likely through investigating their business practices. And having Bruce and Lex interact within their competition allows for Clark to be suspicious of Bruce since it appears he is the same type of person as Lex. That's that basic conflict of the film, that three people of enormous (though different) power are worried that each will abuse it for their own ends. And it's a natural way for Clark and Bruce to play off their secret identities, which also creates tension.
That's basically how I see it. I don't think it would work very well to have Batman just show up in Metropolis and try to befriend Superman and offer him his help. There's no arc there. And there's not much of a reason for either one of them to trust the other right away. After all, one guy can fly, shoot fire out of his eyes, and is basically indestructible. And the other is a guy who dresses up like a bat and fights criminals with his bare hands every night. Having Clark distrust Lois and humanity, and vice versa, initially was a big part of Man of Steel. The trust had to be earned. The same should go for Clark and Bruce. That raises the question of what happens to Batman if Superman doesn't trust him? Can't Superman just crush Batman at any second? First of all, after killing Zod in Man of Steel, I'm pretty sure Clark will establish a no kill policy. Second, Bruce doesn't know that and he can't take that chance. So you have him study Superman and try to find a weakness. Batman is a great detective after all. Or maybe that's what Bruce and Lex's companies are focusing on, finding a weakness in Superman so that they can protect people.
Those are my thoughts for a basic outline of what the sequel will look like. I'm excited. I have a lot of faith in David Goyer and Zack Snider. It should be fun to get a new director's take on Batman. I'm sure they don't need them, but if they need any ideas I had a few just for fun. For the opening scene, I think it would be cool to fade to black from whatever logo they choose and then fade to the blackness of the Batcave. Have a few bats fly through the frame. And then cut to the back of a large chair that sits in front of a big computer screen. The pointy ears of the cowl poke up from the top of the chair. The camera moves in to show Batman reviewing footage of the events of Man of Steel. The camera pans around from that footage onto Bruce as he watches with concern. Cut to Alfred walking into the Batcave to discuss the events with Bruce. Aside from just being a cool way to open the movie I think this would be a good way to remind the audience what happened in the previous movie and the put forward the idea that Batman is suspicious right away.
Another idea for a short scene I had was we have Superman doing a pretty standard saving people scene in Metropolis. He does his thing and flies away. As the camera pans out to show him flying off, we see Batman sitting on top of building, cape blowing in the wind, doing some recon, studying Superman. Superman could even stop, think he saw something, turn to see if he did and have Batman disappeared from his perch. That's all I've got for now. I'm sure more will come to mind from now until what is looking like will be an incredible summer of 2015.