Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Flashback preview: What should happen in the Batman-Superman film?

It's hard to believe but this diehard Batman fan still has yet to see "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice." But you can guarantee once I do I'll post my review here on Cary's Comics Craze.

From what I hear from occasional guest CCC columnist David Hudson, what I'd predicted and speculated on the events in the story actually happens in "Dawn of Justice." 

(For those of you have seen the film, you can read reviews of the "false god" teaser trailer here, the "she with you?" trailer featuring our first look at Wonder Woman in action here and of course, my thoughts on the possible meaning of the mysterious 49-second sequence in which Batman is held captive. Then see how accurate I was. … Or how off base I was!)

But for now, let's travel back in time to July 23, 2013 to the original online home of CCC. 

That's when I posted the following column, titled "What should happen in the Batman-Superman film." 

This nearly 3-year-old op-ed is full of what I want out of what's now "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice." And after re-reading it and seeing the various trailers, I stick by what I said. Enjoy!

July 23, 2013 — Other than naming the director, creative team, several of the stars and a generic release date, we don’t know much about the Superman-Batman film.

So what are the story possibilities for a film I fully expect to be titled “World’s Finest” — a reference to the long-running comic book series of the same name?

“World’s Finest,” as I’ve said in a 2010 post  in which I said the film basically was inevitable, “shouldn’t be just a ‘buddy movie’ and it certainly shouldn’t have both heroes at each other throats, but a combination of the two.”

That’s right — I don’t want to see Batman and Superman going after each other for the entirety of the movie; that would get boring really fast.

Artist Frank Miller and inker Dick Giordano created
this cover for issue 285 of WORLD'S FINEST COMICS.
I hope each character will teach/give the other one some useful insight. Sure, I expect there to be conflict and tension, but I basically want to see the heroes collaborate loooong before the last 20 minutes of the film.

Without a doubt, the best comics stories with Batman and Superman have highlighted what fans dig about each superhero. There’s a reason the pair were featured in a series titled WORLD’S FINEST COMICS and DC Comics published it for 45 years.

Back to (what I wrote in) my 2010 post. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Keep in mind that means that six years ago I predicted Warner Bros. would make a Batman-Superman film — Cary Ashby from waaaaay downtown!)

“Yes, they are the world’s finest superheroes – each with their own gifts and ways of fighting evil — and that should be a necessary component, one that’s done with respect. … And absolutely (the film) should be called ‘World’s Finest.’ There’s too much of a legacy there to ignore that obvious choice.”

Here are some elements I think are crucial to a dynamic “World’s Finest” film that would capture the spirit and dynamics of the world’s most well-known and popular superheroes:

Set the story early in Bruce Wayne’s crimefighting career. This only makes since it’s early in the time Clark Kent has become Superman. This will allow the potential of seeing many more Batman movies starring the person who will be cast.

Also, since this will be set early in Kent’s time as Superman, we have a chance to see a “World’s Finest” sequel as well — not to mention seeing both Henry Cavill and the new Batman/Wayne in the inevitable “Justice League” film and more Batman flicks. (Obviously, this means the actor will need to be in his mid- to late 20s, so he doesn’t age out too fast!)

Emphasize the character’s differences. What better way to reveal how Earthlings perceive an invulnerable alien with amazing super powers who was raised on a Kansas farm than through the eyes of a mortal man?

Incorporate the inevitable tensions between Supes and Bats. Batman works in the shadows, isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and fights crime while embracing moral shades of gray.

On the other hand, Superman is more straightforward in his fight for truth, justice and the American way. That’s ripe for some great big-screen moments with a bunch of philosophical tension …

… but don’t overdo it. It’s natural for Batman and Superman not to trust each other — or even for a long time as they get to know each other — but it’s important, no – essential, for the Dark Knight and Man of Steel to eventually respect each other.

Take a cue from Aretha Franklin’s mega-hit “Respect.” A grudging respect would be perfect because I don’t want “World’s Finest” to be one giant slugfest. I can see one when Superman and Batman first meet, but I don’t want them fighting or arguing the entire time. Ultimately, they’ll need to put away their differences and team up to tackle the greater evil.

Focus on each hero’s “no killing” policy. Imagine if Batman takes Superman to task for the destruction and deaths in Metroplis from his battle royale with General Zod in “Man of Steel.”

Certainly, Superman is distraught after Zod forced him to snap his neck in order to save an innocent family caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) and Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck)
Courtesy of Screen Rant
Maybe Supes has gone all high-and-mighty and takes Batman to task about being a vigilante or overly violent with criminals. If the pair can agree to disagree about how they fight crime or take down criminals, the duo at least can agree about never killing someone — or allowing someone to die.

Have Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne first meet in plain clothes. What fun it would be to see if they have any suspicions about the other’s alter-ego as they get to know each other! Would Kent use his X-ray vision to peek under Batman’s cowl?

Would the Dark Knight have a lead-lined mask anyway to protect his head? Could Wayne use his detective skills to figure out who Superman is — much like Amy Adams’ Lois Lane did in “Man of Steel”?

Make it plausible why Batman/Wayne and Superman/Kent are interacting. I like the idea of Wayne the billionaire doing business with Lex Luthor (only because as Batman, he suspects Luthor is up to no good) and then Wayne meets Kent because he’s doing a news story on the pending deal. (Much like the fantastic “World’s Finest” aka “Batman-Superman” animated film!)
Lois Lane has a romantic relationship with Bruce Wayne (right) in
"The Batman Superman Movie: World's Finest."

Or take a page from John Byrne’s SUPERMAN: MAN OF STEEL limited series and have one of the other heroes go to the other’s city because they are following a lead on a case.

Here’s the most intriguing storyline possibility for “World’s Finest” IMHO …

Create a Lois Lane love triangle. Why wouldn’t two great looking people — a globe-trotting reporter with a go-get’-em attitude and a charismatic billionaire who is more than just a bit mysterious — fall for each other? (Keep in mind, casting Wayne becomes extremely important — as it would be anyway — if Team Nolan goes in this creative direction; the chemistry between the two must be believable! The Cavill-Adams chemistry is also a work in progress, but moving on. …)

Lane already knows her co-worker, Kent, is Superman — and that relationship could be boring. (After all, where’s the mystery when you know a guy’s biggest secret?) Have Cavill’s Kent be extremely jealous about Lane and Wayne’s affair — and let the sparks fly.
Amy Adams plays Lois Lane in "Man of Steel" and "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice."

But here’s The. Most — if not urgent. Important thing to do with “World’s Finest” — Set up another team-up in the inevitable “Justice League” film. To quote a comic book legend: ‘Nuff said!

Want to know why I consider a “World’s Finest” team-up film to be an incredibly logical move for DC Entertainment and Warner Bros.? Follow this link for my July 22, 2013 post.

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