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The DC Comics Shared Universe Has Officially Begun

YES!  YES!  YES!
YES! YES! YES!

If you were even close to the internet over the weekend you no doubt already know about the massive bombshell that Zack Snyder dropped at ComicCon:  Batman and Superman will be in the same movie come 2015.  Not only that, but based on this quote:

“I want you to remember Clark, in all the years to come. In all your private moments. In all the years to come,

my hand at your throat. I want you to remember, the one man who beat you.”

they will definitely be throwing down Dark Knight style.  Now, Snyder himself said that they are not making an adaptation of Dark Knight Returns just that parts of it relate to the story they plan on telling.  So, what might that story be?

Before we get into story possibilities, let’s review some other recent developments to give some grounding to our wild speculating.

baleFirst up, Christian Bale recently restated that he is done with Batman, with the qualification that if Nolan came up with a story worth telling, he might come back. However, Nolan has also said that he is done with Batman, having told a pretty tight arc for Bruce Wayne in the course of his three movies.  This runs counter to the report from Latino Review a few months ago but given that Bale and Nolan have never really changed their tune, I’m willing to take their word for it.

Sticking with Batman for a moment, rumors have recently surfaced that Warner Bros. may be considering a Batman Beyond movie.  For those who don’t know, Beyond was set in the near future of the Batman:  The Animated Series universe, with Bruce now old and long retired, Barbara Gordon having taken over as commissioner and Gotham without a Batman for many years.  However, through a chance series of events, a teenager named Terry McGinnis takes over the Mantle of the Bat with the help of a futuristic, strength-enhancing suit and Bruce Wayne himself acting as his mentor.

Concept art for potential Batman Beyond movie.
Concept art for potential Batman Beyond movie.

Warner had actually considered a Batman Beyond movie many years ago with Keanu Reeves at one time rumored for the lead.  And interest has seemed to be picking up in the Beyond concept, or a least the suit as it has popped up as a bonus skin in many games and even made a brief appearance as a Lucius Fox-developed prototype in the Batman comics.

images

Now, let’s move on to another character that Warner has already established onscreen, Oliver Queen in the series Arrow.  There are a few things going on in this series that make it compatible with the kind of world we have seen in Batman and Man of Steel, and some of them are clear choices made by the show runners.
The clearest indicator is the serious tone of the series and how it generally stays clear of the fantastic, a trait it shares with Batman and Man of Steel.  Yes, I realize that Man of Steel is all about super-powered aliens.  But it treats the whole concept as fantastic in the sense that the appearance of these beings shakes many to their cor,e in addition to the ensuing battle being almost literally earth shattering.  In essence, it is a fair interpretation of what might actually happen should a being like Superman suddenly arrive on earth.
Another interesting indicator is that Arrow made reference to Ferris Air, and even featured a logo that bore a strong resemblance to that used in the Green Lantern movie, indicating that they might be part of the same world.

Finally, in a press release about season two released during comic-cone, Michael Jai White will be appearing as a villain known as the Bronze Tiger.  In the comics, Bronze Tiger is part of the League of Shadows, which astute observers will realize is known in the Nolan Batman films as the League of Assassins.  Guess which name is going to be used in Arrow?

Bronze Tiger to be played by  Michael Jai White
Bronze Tiger to be played by Michael Jai White

And as a side note, Stephen Amell (Oliver Queen) as expressed his willingness to play the character in a Justice League movie.  That doesn’t mean anything in itself but it is interesting.

Now, what does all of this tell us about the upcoming Justice League movie?  Possibly nothing of course.  These could just be random tidbits that are the product of nothing more than the whims of individual creators.  But since that isn’t any fun, I’m going to completely ignore that possibility.
Going back to Batman/Superman movie, let’s take a look at what that quote might mean.
In the Dark Knight Returns, Superman has essentially become a tool of the American government and is sent by the President to put down Batman, who has recently come out of retirement and is causing quite the ruckus in Gotham.  Batman of course is prepared with a mega-suit, a tank-like Batmobile, missiles and a Kryptonite arrow wielding Oliver Queen and manages to take down the Big Blue.
Now, considering they way Man of Steel ended, it is unlikely that Superman will simply be sent after Bats like a errand boy but he could be manipulated into it by a particularly resourceful and diabolical president.  Who am I thinking of?  None other than Lex Luthor.  He has been President in a few different animated and comic book incarnations now, usually posing as a villain who has reformed and now wants to use his gifts to help humanity.  That might be hard to sell to a film audience and would also take a couple of films to set up. However, if he starts out as the President (who made is fortune with Lexcorp, which we already know exists in Man of Steel) he could then devolve into a more typical villain.

Epic Showdown!
Epic Showdown!

Why would Superman be sent after Batman?  Well, if they stick with the Nolan continuity, it could be argued that Batman made the government look really silly in the Dark Knight Rises and of course, Bats continues to work in Gotham with John Robin Blake taking on the mantle.  Lex might want to shutdown what he sees as a destabilizing force.  He could even try to kill two birds with one stone by making sure Batman or someone else has access to some Kryptonite.  Between the Kryptonite and the use of a new prototype suit with a red bat logo, BatBlake might be able to prevail.  The obvious hole here is that I don’t think Lex was the POTUS in Rises.  And even more important is the fact that if Batman and Superman are going to mix it up fans will definitely be wanting to see Bruce Wayne in the cape and cowl.  But don’t forget that

President Luthor?
President Luthor?

Dark Knight Returns features a Batman who has come out of retirement after several years of inactivity.  We could definitely see that theme played out on film.  As for what would draw Bruce of retirement…it is difficult to say.  Maybe the arrival of Superman motivates him to return to Gotham and take up his crusade in a less fatalistic manner than before, leaving Blake to be Nightwing.  While fraught with issues of its own, (just how many times is Bruce Wayne going to come back from the dead?) this would be compatible with comments that Snyder made a couple months back about Superman inspiring Bruce Wayne to don the cape.  I’m not saying that’s what he meant, only that it works.  And as for Bale not coming back?  That doesn’t mean we can’t have the same Batman.  It is possible to recast a character, ask Don Cheadle and Terrence Howard.
One thing against this of course is that funky Bat-logo that was shown in the official announcement.  I have no idea where that design comes from but it is obviously not the same thing we have seen in the Nolan movies.  But especially if we have BatBlake he may have simply changed the logo.
Would Oliver Queen show up in this to shoot a Kryptonite arrow?  Honestly, I doubt it.  There may be a reference to him in the upcoming film but I think more than that would be pushing it.  I do think they should integrate Arrow into the shared universe due to the similarity of tone and the fact that they show has already introduced characters and places that later films would not have to worry about.  Not to mention it is one less character that films would have to worry about telling an origin story for.  Will they?  Signs indicate the possibility but it is alas to early to tell.  Similarly, I don’t actually think they will be using the Batman Beyond suit, at least not so soon.  But the potential is there to be introduced towards the end of the Batman/Superman movie.  We shall see.
Rest assured that as things continue to develop, we will be keeping you up to date with all the latest rumors and wild flights of fancy that cross our minds.

Not yet, but we're getting there.
Not yet, but we’re getting there.

About thefairytaletraveler

Catholic father of five and life-long nerd, theviking began nerd life as a socially awkward Star Wars fan who then branched out into comics thanks a boring summer vacation. These days, he reads most anything, watches a number of nerdy shows, plays with his kids, works as a proofreader for the fine folks at Grail Quest Books and volunteers at his parish and kids' school.

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