I have been trying to stay off my computer longer than usual in the vain attempts to be a productive member of society before I go into full nonstop dissertation writing soon. So lo and behold I get on my laptop for the first time today and all over I see the news that an actor has been selected to take the role of Batman opposite Henry Cavill’s Superman for their upcoming joint film in 2015. If you have been paying attention to this blog, you know that I love the Caped Crusader in pretty much every form but the announcement that Ben Affleck was chosen felt like a kick in the nards with George Clooney’s stupid “Bat Ice Skates” from that dreaded film that shall remain nameless. Pretty much every newsfeed I see is covered in friends declaring an almost unanimous WTF?! with relevant links for the news. I joined my voice to the chorus for a while but had to take a deep breath and reconsider if only for the hope that the upcoming film will be amazing. Rather than rant, I want to try and conjure a scenario where the film could work with Ben Affleck as Batman. Actually, it could just work with anyone with decent acting abilities to be Batman. So yeah, time for another round of hypothetical storytelling.
First, they have already established that they want this iteration of Batman to not be a Batman Begins Christian Bale but something closer to the tail end of his crime fighting days at the ripe young of age of early 40s. As long as you have the best trainers and nutritionists that a billionaire playboy can afford, he won’t miss a step when it comes to charming the ladies or beating up the bad guys. However, I personally thing that they want to emphasize the almost antagonistic identities between the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight. I see Bruce Wayne as being a carefree celebrity that can afford to look like a hobo and act like an ass. So yeah, imagine House but without the cane. But rather than being a pompous dick I see him like the sad Keanu meme, sad and artsy while pushing people away because friends just means more people to have masks around.
As for the Caped Crusader, I envision him as working really in the shadows, not being glorified by Gotham but rather that he beats up people in the alleyways. More detective and bruiser than gadgeteer genius. There is no Bat Signal or even police help, he is a vigilante that the cops have kind of lived with and sometimes send after something/someone they can’t handle. Far more ninja quick incapacitation style combat than drawn out kung fu fights. Grappling hook gun and batarangs galore but very few other inventions around. The Batwing is probably in storage and needs some repairs before he joins Supes for flying to a future mission. In fact, I imagine that the first shot of Affleck will be as Patches Malone (Bruce’s alter ego when he wants to visits the darker parts of Gotham). Hell, Patches should be one of the main features of the film. If Batman allows Bruce to fulfill his desire to act as guardian to the city, Patches allows him to be a citizen. He would be like any of Johny Depp’s eccentric characters. Wait, he should just be Johny Depp as he is in real life in fashion and overall charisma. He needs to have a weird style, enough so that no one can ever make the connection between the trio of alter egos. My best bet would aviator sunglasses with lenses that have lead in them to “better block out radiation” but are actually to prevent high tech surveillance and later Superman from taking a peek. He has a similar thing in his cowl obviously. Plus, the first time people see Patches he could pretend to be blind and then Poof! potshot to Daredevil, because self deprecating fan service is always good.
To further emphasize the opposite natures between Superman and Batman, let me set up some antonyms that respectively divide their identities. Light/dark, naturally gifted/training from Hell, amateur/experienced, clean shaven/gristled, brute force/strategy, optimism/pessimism, hope/despair. Let me focus on that last one for a bit. The first Superman film clearly established that the seal of the house of El doubled as the symbol for hope, thus making this hero a shining beacon for the people to see and follow. Despair might be too strong a word but you have to consider what the history of Batman entails. I love him as a character in pretty much every interpretation but there is one thing that has stood out about him for me as a reader, Batman hates himself. More specifically, he hates what he has had to become. The transition from spoiled rich kid to traumatized orphan on that dark alley one night left him yearning for a world that did not involve such wanton disrespect for life. Bruce Wayne creates Batman because he feels Gotham has forced him to do so. He could stop at any moment but the city needs him to prevent an even crappier existence to take place. This of course doubles for the Bruce Wayne public persona he has created and even to Patches, all of them masks designed for his surroundings, not for himself. I draw a lot of parallels between Batman and Don Quixote in that they are both a response to a world that needs them and that whatever is achieved ultimately accomplishes very little in the grand scheme of things. The only people that have seen the real Bruce after this tragedy are a few ninja masters, a love interest or two that conveniently disappears before the next film, the Robins, and of course Alfred.
Here is my plot for the film where an extra broody Ben Affleck (think Argo) could pull off being Batman. Bruce has been the Caped Crusader for years but realizes that he might not be able to keep this up much longer. The obvious thing would be to have a health scare or maybe a punk with a gun gets a lucky shot in, though I think something more drastic needs to occur. Bruce needs to experience the loss of the one stable thing remaining in his life. Since including any kind of Robin in the movie would not go well and killing him a la Jason Todd would be too much there is only one thing left to do. With almost two decades of hero work he is still unable to save the man that has been on his side all along. That’s right, opening scene needs to be Alfred’s funeral. Heresy I know, but it might just be the thing to distinguish this Batman from any other, make him a super loner, and push him to do something he never quite imagined. The one thing that is consistent and almost an outlet for his grief is putting away criminals (in this version I imagine a more mundane Rogues Gallery in Gotham, much like Nolan’s films). He sees the reports of Metropolis being almost shattered by Zod and begins to really consider what would happen if anything so Super would happen in Gotham, what would survive the carnage.
Now we cut to Clark Kent, Lois Lane, and Perry White with boxes carrying them into a building and setting up some desks. With their flagship newspaper HQ demolished, the surviving journalists are forced to temporarily relocate to one of the smaller branches of the Daily Planet, Gotham. Now we have a reason for the other characters to stay together and be in a new place. Between people having died in the calamity and the survivors preferring to be in Metropolis’s ruins than take their chances in Gotham, we have an explanation as to why the recognizable reporters took the job. Now, Superman starts making appearances in other cities but does a lot of his work in Gotham now, which obviously makes Batman feel like he is losing his only responsibility. Sure he could stop and leave his work to more capable hands but the fear of another ultimate showdown of ultimate destiny leveling the place he has been protecting for so long makes him want to learn more. At first, he visits the offices of the Daily Planet as Batman to get more info, especially Lois Lane who was with Superman during a lot the catastrophe. Then he tries to buy the Daily Planet as Bruce Wayne to be able to get even more information. After that, he kind of infiltrates the workforce by being an on the street reporter, Patches Malone. This way we have Batman meeting Lois Lane, because she obviously is working late there when he infiltrates the office, Bruce Wayne getting into a dick measuring contest with Perry White, and even a bit of a rivalry between patches and Clark Kent to see who can find the scoop. Bam! banter between the cast and Bruce’s personas that help to establish different interactions for the rest of the film.
The movie will mostly be about the interaction between the two caped wonders but Lois Lane needs to be around as well. I see her as an intermediary between Clark and Bruce, plus their alter egos. If you think the guy from Smallville, Kansas was intimidated by Metropolis then he is going to crap his pants when he gets to Gotham, a place that makes Detroit look good and Lois needs to hold his hand along the way but it’s ultimately Patches that acts as tour guide. With her having already deduced Superman’s identity I want that relationship to start take place. While Bruce might be looking to settle down eventually, I don’t want this to be the moment when he gets a love interest. He can make out with Wonder Woman in Justice League. Lois, should be focused on another story, like a prominent scientist that goes missing. She of course finds him, figures out that he has been forced to help the bad guys in some way, and helps save him all while figuring critical information and maybe some MacGuffin that helps her Super Friends save the day.
As for the main antagonist/plot of the film, I want it to start small with something that can easily extend into Justice League stuff. Batman has been finding that the regular criminals have been packing deadlier weapons that look almost other worldly. The heroes do their thing and quickly realize that their ammunition is strong enough to put a dent even in Superman, thus forcing an eventual team up. Clark and Patches make the connection to guns being supplied by Intergang, which is kind of like the mafia but on steroids. With no kryptonite around, the only thing that makes sense is that fragments from the thing that almost did the terraforming in the previous movie now have this deadly effect to the man of Steel. The heroes figure out that Intergang has been supplying the advanced weapons so they go and pay their boss a visit. While the Penguin could fill this role, I want a slightly less iconic villain to take the reins in this one. Red Hood would be too much trouble because comparisons to Joker and Jason Todd would keep showing up. Instead, the villain should be Black Mask, and for added effect let’s say that the actual mask is made of the faux kryptonite to give him a standing chance. Obviously, the heroes work together and the day is saved. However, we see that the weapons are in pretty good shape for being made out of scraps of alien tech. But then they realize that the writings on them are not in any language either of them recognize leading to a bigger mystery but the main threat has been neutralized as these impliments of destruction are thrown into the sun or something. Clark, Lois, and Perry return to a reconstructed Metropolis and all things seem well.
The post credit tease is a boomtube of one of the Intergang guys who escaped. He appears in a dark room and starts pleading for his life but he is only met with glowing red eyes that shoot lasers and kill him. An evil chuckle and a bit of an outline showing Darkseid’s face should suffice. The Justice League movie would explain that one of the failed Kryptonian expeditions into space landed on Apokalips, giving them a tech boost to wage war on the rest of the galaxy/universe and know Earth is in their sights. Well that’s my story, any Hollywood execs that want a full screenplay should contact me soon. I’ve got dissertating to do.