The Dark Knight: What now?

19 Nov 2008

Batman Begins was good. Christopher Nolan reboot the series successfully, giving us the first good Batman movie. The Dark Knight was better. Obviously, Heath Ledger knocked it out of the park, but it was a solid package deal that exceeded the massive expectations set before it. But what happens next? Batman III is obviously being talked about, but there might even be more expected of it than there was of The Dark Knight.

Eckhart coming back as Two-Face? I vote not likely, since the character DIED (feel free to argue otherwise, but you’re wrong). Play with the Scarecrow some more? I can’t imagine that working. And I don’t think that Johnny Depp could live up to the role of the Joker. The basis of the next Batman cannot come from Nolan’s established history; it will have to be drawn from the rest of the Batman mythos.

Catwoman? Already been done well. There might not be anything new to do with her. The Penguin? He’s a mobster and the mob has become, especially since the Joker took it as far as it could go. Bringing Ra’s al Ghul back in a way, using his daughter. It would be an easy way to add a female character to an increasingly male-dominated cast. I don’t think that there is enough to the character of Clayface for a movie to based on. We could go through Batman’s entire Gallery of Villains, but enough about what won’t work…

If Mr. Nolan is reading this, I’ve got some plans for him that I (in my infinite wisdom) think would make for an awesome third (and final) Batman movie.

For starters, the Animated Series had an awesome character that was based around the Joker: Miss Harley Quinn, at the psychiatrist who went mad after working with the Joker. Make her a copy-cat who tries to live up to his legacy, but is sloppy and gets caught early in the film (similar to the Scarecrow in The Dark Knight). The new character would give a taste of the same sort of chaos without having to live up to Ledger’s performance. My personal favorite for the role would be Summer Glau.

One of the villains I hear tossed around a lot is the Riddler. I think the appeal for him is because he is so similar the Joker as a crazy-man. Obviously, that would be a massive failure. But he could work if you played on his love for puzzles and made Edward Nygma into a private detective who has been hired to catch Batman. While the Gothem Police as entirely reactionary (Batman acts, they respond), E. Nygma would play against Batman’s crime-fighter role and lay a trap. He would create the persona of the Riddler and fake heists in order to learn more about who Batman is before setting the ultimate Bat-trap. For some reason, I can’t see anyone but Jude Law in the role.

My final idea is my favorite, but finding the right actor for the role could be difficult. I have always been a fan of Bane, the man who broke the Bat. The Bane of Batman & Robin was a horrible rendering of the character. Bane is supposed to be incredibly strong, but also incredibly intelligent. In the Knightfall storyline, Bane was able to deduce Bruce Wayne’s secret identity. With Batman III, we could see Wayne becoming increasingly more careless with nobody left to live for and the constant struggles with the Gotham P.D. taking their toll, Wayne finds himself unable to live up to hiding his identity. After all, with Rachel Dawes gone, there is nobody left who can be hurt because of him (witty line from Alfred goes here). Bane picks up on all of the scattered clues, goes after Bruce and catches him weak. This would be after a particularly bad fight with a special forces squad designed to take Batman out. And, just as in the comic, Bane breaks Wayne’s back.

Of course, the movie couldn’t end there. So during the rest of the action, we would need another character. Someone who could play the same role as Jean-Paul of Knightfall or Terry McGinnis of Batman Beyond. We’re not looking for a Robin, because that character doesn’t yet with with Nolan’s mythos. Instead we’re looking for someone who can take up the role of Batman. In Batman Begins, Wayne said, “A man is just flesh and blood and can be ignored and destroyed. But as a symbol… as a symbol, I can be incorruptible, everlasting”. Batman, the symbol, is more important than Bruce Wayne will ever be. Bane can break Bruce Wayne, but if the mantle can be passed on to someone else, then the symbol of Batman can live on and be the hero Gotham City needs.

Wouldn’t that be a good way to end Nolan’s series? It would give us an ending to the story of Bruce Wayne (who has, really, been what the Nolan’s Batman movies have been about. Yes, it is a Batman movie, but Wayne is the main character). It would also give us an open-ended feeling. “More things will happen, after this movie”. So, Mr. Nolan, if you would like to steal my idea and make a movie about it, I would be okay with that.