They should have used Chris Nolan’s The Dark Knight movies to crossover with the DC universe. I have been a strong proponent of this from Day 1.
The movie-going public is aware why the Batman franchise was halted the first time around: Batman & Robin was critically panned, left a bad taste in the mouths of Batman fans, and, through numerous ideas and discussions, Warner Brothers decided the only way to salvage the franchise was to start over with a new Batman reboot, which led to Batman Begins.
Batman Begins was the first modern “reboot”; this word was not commonly used prior to this in the context of film to describe “new universes,” and it was completely unheard of to have a cinematic character in a new universe unless they were decades apart. WB took a huge risk in starting a character over from scratch so recently from the previous film. Before the “new universe” concept came up, WB execs, when searching for ideas for the next Batman film, took for granted that the next movie would be in the same universe as the Burton/Schumaker films, the challenge being how to bring it back to being dark in tone again and making it something fans would appreciate. When Batman Begins was announced, so many thought it was a prequel to Burton’s Batman and considered certain events in the plot to have “continuity errors” with Burton’s movie.
But Nolan’s Dark Knight movies didn’t suck. They were all critically-acclaimed and made money at the box office. Therefore it was a stupid decision for WB to start over, when they had no reason to. Even Batman Forever didn’t “reboot” itself from Batman Returns, despite Schumacher’s version resembling nothing from Burton’s Gotham City and being completely different tonally. So why did WB choose to reboot the character? Because “reboots,” since Batman Begins, have skyrocketed. The concept is now on all-to-commonly relied on in Hollywood to bring back a character to the cinematic screen. We’ve seen reboots of Hulk, Fantastic Four, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and 3 Spider-man incarnations in the past decade. Reboots used to be on an ONLY-WHEN-ABSOLUTELY-NECESSARY basis, now they have become the standard.
And yes, I’ve heard all the arguments against it, and I disagree with all of them. I think they sound ridiculous. “But Nolan’s universe was too realistic, ” they say. “His universe wouldn’t work with aliens and super villains…”
Hogwash. You make it work. That’s the beauty of film and screenplays. Man of Steel’s Superman, and the way people in Metropolis (and the world) responded to Superman, seeing him as a religious figure, a savior, is not a far cry from how people would’ve responded to him in Nolan’s Gotham. Remember, there is that scene of Lucius Fox seeing a sonar version of Gotham’s inhabitants through cell phone surveillance: The Dark Knight isn’t exactly The Godfather in terms of realism. The two universes are not that far apart tonally as people claim them to be. They would’ve meshed together well.
The Terminator is a great example of a grounded, realistic universe that blended a fighting cyborg and time travel. Also, Child’s Play was dark and horror. Bride of Chucky, as well as Seed of Chucky, were comedies, despite it being in the same universe. Seed of Chucky had a fake Britney Spears cameo, a far cry from the first movie, which was a serious horror. It’s completely possible to use the same character but switch tones for the subsequent movies. Jason X was set in space, contrasting the original Friday the 13th where space travel and time travel didn’t exist.
Let’s state the facts: Christopher Nolan never intended TDK films to be a trilogy. That decision was made solely during the production of The Dark Knight Rises. Nolan originally intended to start off a Batman universe that would lead to a numerous films, and eventually be taken over by other directors. But he never intended his films to be “closed off” and permanently ended. This is proven by Nolan’s incredibly patient pacing and how the story was told.
At the conclusion of Batman Begins, on the rooftop with Gordon, Gordon’s monologue “What about escalation?” is symbolically meant to be a precursor for the fantastical Batman villains that would eventually make their presence now that Batman is active: while Gotham is grounded and real for now, it won’t remain that way. Here, Nolan was purposely setting up the future of franchise, in which villains like Penguin, Mr. Freeze, Clayface, Poison Ivy, would come to fruition.
Secondly, the Wayne Manor burned down at the end up of the film, in which Bruce and Alfred have a smirking exchange about making “improvements to the lower wing.” This is intended to lead all the fancy entrances to the Batcave that exist in Batman’s canon.
Thirdly, Nolan was so careful in pacing himself, that The Dark Knight didn’t even have the Batcave because The “Batcave” was still undergoing renovation from the fire of the previous movie. If Nolan intended this to be a trilogy, then obviously he would not have set the second film so early in Batman’s career before he even acquires his Batcave. By the second movie in a trilogy, which is the most important in a trilogy, where the major story arc takes place, as opposed to the beginning or conclusion, Batman’s comic book canonical essentials should be established.
Fourthly, Gordon did not become Commissioner until the latter half of The Dark Knight. That means most of the trilogy takes place before Batman is established as a character: before Gordon is commissioner, before Batman gets his Batcave built, before the introduction of Barbara Gordon and other rouges, who are still young children. Then, The Dark Knight Rises comes around, and already we have fast-fowarded to the end of Batman’s career, when he is near retirement. There is about a decade’s worth or more of canonical Batman events missing in between The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises.
Aside from that, is how much the ending of The Dark Knight Rises perfectly, yet inadvertently, set up Dawn of Justice.
First, Dawn of Justice was looking for an older, weary Batman anyway, and Christian Bale, already was looking weary and tired in TDKR, and is around the same age as Affleck. It was a win/win situation for WB and Snyder: they could’ve had their older, experienced Batman and used the same actor/universe for continuity purposes.
Moreover, The way TDKR ended was a perfect setup to how Dawn of Justice started. Bruce retired with Selena Kyle in the film’s climax. Upon hearing of Superman’s battle destroying Metropolis, he would’ve done the same thing Affleck’s Batman did in that opening scene: he would likely have come to Metropolis, looked up in anger at Superman, and came out of retirement to fight him. Affleck’s Batman did the same: he came out retirement and donned the suit again.
Dawn of Justice could have began with Bale’s Bruce Wayne talking to Selena Kyle, in a cameo appearance by Anne Hathaway, telling her similar points that Affleck’s Bruce told Alfred, that Superman is a threat to the human race and must be destroyed. Selena informs Bruce that she can’t bear to see him hurt, and if he chooses to wear the suit, she can’t be around to see it. Thus, she leaves him. WB just missed a huge opportunity for a perfect set up picking up from TDKR.
And to think WB just pissed it away an opportunity like this, from a critically-acclaimed set of films at that, is mind-boggling.