I think it’s safe to say that the Batman films by Christopher Nolan are some of my favourite superhero films and have set a benchmark for the standard of comic book adaptations. Though what else could this director who have done with Batman?
I know that when The Dark Knight Rises came around, Nolan was about ready to go and almost had his arm twisted into directing one last adventure with Batman as he tried to give the most conclusive ending possible with The Dark Knight.
Though with more and more news coming out every week about how the DC Movie Universe is beginning to shape up, I’ve been looking back and thought about three directions the Dark Knight franchise could’ve gone in if Nolan had done something differently or had wished to stay on.
Introduce Robin into the Batman Movies.
I think a Robin in the Nolanverse would’ve been interesting and a chance to really examine the sidekick / hero relationship.
Some questions I think Nolan would’ve addressed may have included: What is the purpose of Robin? Does he go on to be Batman eventually? I mean, that was one of the themes played within the Dark Knight. With Bruce Wayne almost looking to finish his war on crime as he almost surrendered and was looking to finally shut down organised crime.
Remember in Batman Begins it was stated that Batman was an ideal, not a person. A symbol of justice.
Is Bruce is a great mentor or is Robin going to be exposed to a gruelling regime as Batman tried to create something better than him? Bruce put himself through a brutal regime of training and self-exploration in his 20s, something he may wish he’d done earlier in life, would he push Robin twice as hard as he did or even to far knowing how cruel the real world is?
Does having a Robin make Batman a bit selfish and a bit of a bad guy? Think about it, Bruce Wayne takes a child, makes him dedicate his childhood to training and doing very grown up things and makes him fight a war of personal motivations. Is Robin a child soldier? Has been drafted into a war of self-interest and not one of moral justice?
I’ve said it before, the best Robin for this film series would be the second Robin, Jason Todd, the angry orphan who grew up on Gotham’s streets. Dick Grayson is too soft for this series, Tim Drake is too much of a fantasy, and Damian is too fantastical.
I’d imagine the introduction of Jason as Robin would roughly follow this template. Based on me watching the Nolan Batman films a bit too much, this is kind of a proposed sequel after Batman Begins but before the Dark Knight.
As we know from the Dark Knight Returns, Bruce sometimes visits local Orphanages as part of his charity socialite persona. One day he encounters an orphan named Jason Todd who’s brawling with a group of much older and stronger people.
This reminds Bruce of himself during Batman Begins when he’s fighting in the prison camp the League of Shadows finds him in. Bruce takes him in and begins training him.
Some of Nolan’s big themes would probably include the mortality of Bruce Wayne as Batman and how the mantle would one day, need to be passed. Is Bruce really someone who be a father and mentor? Is Robin nothing more than a child soldier in a self-serving war?
To make a juxtaposition, the villain could be the Penguin (borrowing from the Tell Tale games where Penguin is a like a dark reflection of Bruce Wayne) who’s recruited child ninjas from the now defunct League of Shadows and is now using them in crimes in Gotham and it forces Batman to examine his relationship with his sidekick, are he and Penguin just using to kids for live out their campaigns against the world?
Adapt War Games.
I think War Games is a very Nolan kind of Batman story. It focuses on organised crime and feels a lot less comic-booky than something like Batman and Son for example.
The comic book story follows a gang war erupting in Gotham involving non-super villain gangs and a small collection of villains warring it out for Gotham, the twist being this gang war started after a vigilante named Spoiler steals a plan devised by Batman to end the gangs, goes wrong.
This story involved a lot of Batman’s extended cast including Nightwing, Robin, Batgirl, Catwoman, Oracle, Orpheus, and Tarantula.
It’d be likely that most of these characters would get left behind, along with a lot of villains. Though to me, that wouldn’t matter since I think the idea of a plan Batman creates ends up going wrong – granted someone else stole it – but the idea of a flawless Bat-plan failing interests me.
Imagine if Batman devises a strategy for Jim Gordon to end what’s left of organised crime in Gotham City and when Gordon is kicked out of the GCPD by someone else (insert replacement commissioner name from the comics) they take the plan and do it wrong triggering a gang war.
How would Batman (and maybe Robin if this film happened instead of the Dark Knight) solve this one?
Nolan Becomes a Producer Overseeing Another Director.
Back when Batman Forever came out, Tim Burton vacated the director’s chair for Joel Schumacher who moved the franchise away from Gothic and cartoonish to camp and cartoonish. The result is a fairly watchable film. Then Batman and Robin happened…
Though one thing is interesting about Joel, he originally wanted to do a dark adaption of Year One, but the studio said no since they wanted child-friendly blockbuster.
What if Nolan had negotiated the Dark Knight Rises differently? What if instead he took a producer role and oversaw a new director who his own ideas for the franchise? What if it had become more comic booky? Or maybe dare I say it, Batman Beyond?