Earlier today, Kim Masters from The Hollywood Reporter informed us that Warner Bros. (parent company of DC Comics and the DC Extended Universe) wants to “usher out [Ben] Affleck’s Batman gracefully.” While this hasn’t been confirmed by Warner — the article sites a reliable source. Is it because Affleck stepped away from directing the nebulous The Batman film?
Is it because Ben Affleck is 45 years-old and would be damn near fifty when (if) The Batman is released? Affleck’s script has been tossed and Matt Reeves, director of this mythical The Batman film and director and co-writer of two of the most engaging SciFi films of the last decade, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War for the Planet of the Apes has a trilogy of his own in mind. These all make sense, but I feel that Ben Affleck was a great Batman. While Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will never be mistaken as a good film (“Martha?”), his Batman moved like Batman, had Batman’s streak of cruelty, he was even a serviceable Bruce Wayne. I was actually pretty excited to see how Affleck would Batman his own. In November, we’ll see what he does in the Justice League film.
But there is a critical point Masters doesn’t touch upon, which I will do here.
Warner Bros. sucks at making superhero films. They’re great at television, fantastic at animation, but their cinematic outings are pure trash. I don’t want to dis the men, women, and those in-between who lent their talents to these films in hopes of making something amazing. Give all the props to the costumers, stunt people, artisans, and the rest who worked their behinds off to bring our four-color heroes to life. But, then, where should we place the blame? Should the studio be held accountable for greenlighting super-turds? Or should the directors and writer be liable for serving their egos more than these iconic characters?
I’ll ease up a bit and give Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman a pass. Despite some very questionable racial portrayals and the corniest villain since Jesse “Yummm… this scenery tastes wonderful” Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor, it felt like a superhero film. The action was great, the humor spot on, and the fight choreography told us so much more about Diana — I feel a unique fighting style is crucial for proper character development. More on that later this month.
But as it stands, the DCEU is batting like Boston’s Andrew Benintendi.
Don’t think for a moment that I’m anti-DC. I’m a DC fan. I’m #TeamDC over Marvel all day, every day. But Marvel makes good movies. Despite very few of them resonating with me, they make great films that connect. Why is this? DC has an arsenal of amazing properties, so why does it seem impossible (aside from Wonder Woman) for them to make a decent film? I have a few suggestions that could help DC on their oath to cinematic super heroic greatness.
- Get off Marvel’s jock. DC is the hare (Superman: The Motion Picture and Superman II while Marvel is the tortoise (the entire MCU).
- Go for the good joke, not the easy one. Suicide Squad was positioned to be the anti-Guardians of the Galaxy — a film I detested, by the way. Squad had the superbly cut trailer, and interesting cast (all but Jared Leto’s Joker), and a judicious use of humor. But watching the film… I could do nothing more than shake my head in wonder and disappointment.
- Lighten the hell up. DC properties aren’t The Crow. Let’s have some fun. I’m not even talking about fun as in humor. I’m talking fun on the way that the action sequences and characterizations in Raiders of the Lost Ark put an adventurous smile on your face.
- Lastly, give Batman a break. The entire DCEU should not hinge on his cape and cowl. He can always be a presence, but does not have to be a focus.
Damn, Shawn. That’s a lot of criticism. If you’re so smart, what’s your idea.
I’m glad you asked, netizens.
If Warner Bros. were to invite me to develop a DC film, I’d make a The Question film.
EXT. ROOFTOP – NIGHT
The Question is standing on top of the Wayne Advanced Robotics building, the second tallest building in Hub City. Snowflakes whip around him, fiercely snapping his midnight blue trench coat, but he doesn’t shudder. He gives no indication that he feels the winter weather. The snow, the Wayne flag, and the Question’s coat seem to be made of the same rhythm. He adjusts the range of his Bushnell Equinox monocular and lets out a grunt, then a short, sharp laugh. In the distance, stealing into the forty-third floor of the LexCorp affiliate, Cutter Datasystems, is the fabled The Batman.
He’s real? He’s real. Well, this changes things a bit.
The Question jots a few notes in his field journal. Puts his monocular away and leaps from the building.
+ + +
If you want more, Warner will have to pay me. I’ve already written a first draft of this film.
The film would be about a conspiracy the Question is trying to uncover. In his journey, other DCEU heroes and villains are introduced. Make Bruno Mannheim and Intergang the big bads and you’d have a winner of a film.
I’ll even go a little further.
Charles Victor Szasz/Vic Sage/The Question: Hugh Dancy from the short-lived Hannibal television series. He can go from awkward and halting to menacing and hyper-confident in at moment’s notice. He also has the wiry look this iteration of The Question needs.
Rene Montoya/The Question: Monica Raymund. She was great in Lie to Me and The Good Wife. She’s tough, charismatic, and has a physicality that’s only been hinted at in her roles, thus far.
Bruno Mannheim: Vincent Cassel. Is there anyone more intense? He’s as compelling has he is scary. If you want to see his range, watch the following three films: La Haine, Le Pacte des loups, and Eastern Promises.
And if I couldn’t write and/or direct this potential masterpiece of a super hero film, the honor should fall on Joe Cornish.
Cornish co-wrote the MCU’s 2015 Ant-Man and directed 2011’s Attack the Block. The film didn’t get a whole lot of love when it was first released, but is slowly becoming a cult film. Cornish has an eye for action and suspense, and an ear for humor that is right up there with Edgar Wright (who is the king of marrying humor and action and suspense and horror). Oh, yeah. Attack the Block gave us John Boyega.
Warner Bros, holler at your boy. I got this.
End Note: If you don’t think The Question is a viable character to hitch an entire movie universe to, peep.