When Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises (2012) finally slips away from cinemas after making a gazillion dollars you can rest assured that somewhere in a underground bunker a bunch of cigar chomping studio executives will already be planning the caped crusaders return to the big screen.
The sensible decision would be to carry on the narrative of Nolan’s trilogy; recasting the role of Batman ain’t no great shakes. After all, the actor who got the gig would spend most of his time suited up and even though Bale made a fine Bruce Wayne you wouldn’t need to be a method actor to comfortably slip into the billionaire playboy’s shiny shoes. As for who would be on villain duty: the loudest voices would be calling for a return of the The Joker but unless the intention is to imitate Heath Ledger’s characterization, which would be difficult to pull off and it’s doubtful any actor worth a damn would even try, then it’s a fairly safe bet that the clown prince of crime is going to be on hiatus for half a decade or so.
As for other potential foes that fit into Nolan’s realistically plausible world, obvious choices such as The Penguin and The Riddler could work though neither are much of a physical threat and, as Bane seems to have cornered the terrorism market, the writers would have to come up with a fresh angle. Lesser known villains that are stalwarts of the comics but foreign to mass audiences are the mysterious Hit-Man Hush and psychopathic spoilt rich kid Black Mask and both of these characters have the kind of back stories that could form the foundation of an excellent script.
However, if rumours that Batman is going to kick the bucket in the Dark Knight Rises prove to be true then it would be ridiculous (it will probably happen) to resurrect the Nolan version for another outing and so the world’s greatest detective would be back to square one and ready for a reboot.
Comic-book connoisseurs would undoubtedly like to see a new stripped down, gritty version and some recall Darren Aronovsky’s idea to do a Black and White Batman: Year One based on the original comic series written by Sin City’s Frank Miller. This would be an interesting stand-alone film, as would Alan Moore’s exceptional Batman/Joker tale The Killing Joke but Nolan stripped some of that content for his trilogy and it’s probable the studio shareholders will be calling for an epic blockbuster rather than a low budget art house flick.
With the success of the Avengers (2012) and the recent return of The Amazing Spider-man (2012), producers just might be tempted to take the franchise down a more family friendly road. It’s easy to forget that most people over 30 first encountered Batman in the camp 60′s TV show and though Joel Scuhmacher’s Batman Forever (1995) and Batman and Robin (1997) paid homage to the series, with somewhat disastrous results, taking a more surreal approach could open the door for characters such as Poison Ivy, Killer Croc, Clayface and Mr Freeze. In fact, dispensing of the realism requirement would open up another possibility: a film version of the immensely popular computer game Arkham Asylum which features Batman battling a horde of escaped villains on the Asylum grounds. It might sound like a far-fetched possibility but with a solid premise and a ready-made audience don’t be surprised if we one day see a Bat film based on a game.
Whatever the future is for the Dark Knight, you can guarantee he won’t be away from our screens for long and though many out there despise these constant comic book movies, I’m afraid they are going to be popping them out in droves for many years to come.