Who’d win in a fight between Superman and Spawn? How the f*ck old is Cable? And what in the holy hell is a Megatron? When the tough questions arise, Panels on Pages will gather the facts, but it’s up to the PoP!ulation to draw its own conclusions. So come on… Riddle Me This!
Spoiler Alert: We’re going to be talking about specific details relevant to the ending of The Dark Knight Rises in here. So no whining if we ruin it for you.
For quite some time now, the smart money has been on Warner Bros. rebooting their cash cow Batman franchise after director/co-writer Christopher Nolan left the series. The trilogy was up to that point a phenomenal success and expectations were high that the final installment would continue the trend. Having every single bit of advertising call this one “the epic conclusion” certainly painted a reboot picture. A door was closing on Batman, but Warner Bros. and DC would be insane to let it sit for long. That all changed once The Dark Knight Rises hit the silver screen.
Sure, the potential for a reboot is still there. It was Batman Begins that made a reboot okay, after all. Sony pulled the same move with The Amazing Spider-Man and Fox tried their hand at X-Men: First Class. Both of those movies did good numbers and received mostly positive reviews from critics. The problem is that even though Nolan has repeatedly made it known that he’s done with Batman, he left the keys in the car for anyone with the balls to take the wheel. The ending of The Dark Knight Rises was surprising in a lot of ways, but none more so than Bruce Wayne handing the mantle of Batman to Detective John Blake.
The potential for new films following Joseph Gordon-Levitt under the cowl is staggering, provided the right director can be found. Nolan’s films have gone way above and beyond simply being adaptations of the comics. There’s no reason that the next movie can’t star a Batman who isn’t Bruce Wayne. If they do choose this route, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale or otherwise) need never appear in the film at all. The possibilities are wide open to tell a Batman story that’s wholly unique to the movies. One of the first things I said after the movie was over was “I don’t want a reboot.” It’s all left open. Take the ball and run with it.
On the other hand, the ending is perfect as it is. It’s the one and only time I ever remember Bruce getting a legitimate happy ending. The payoff to the earlier conversation between Bruce and Alfred ruined me. The question of what will Blake do is a satisfying conclusion in and of itself. Nolan crafted an epic trilogy many critics and fans are calling one of the greatest ever made. It would be perfectly acceptable for the studio to close the books on this Batman and start fresh. It’s a powerful story with a powerful conclusion that manages to be both definitive and ambiguous. Regardless of the studio’s choice, the next guy has some big shoes to fill.
With comic book movies making buckets of cash these days, DC and WB need a win that isn’t Batman-related. With nothing else coming except Man of Steel, all eyes are on the last son of Krypton to finally have a hit. And it has to be a hit if DC has any chance whatsoever at getting a piece of that Avengers-level action in any capacity. It’s foolish to think for even a second that they’ll abandon the Batman, but they have a serious decision to make. So Riddle Me This, PoP!ulation, should DC and WB reboot Batman?