The Superman – Batman movie

comics-batman-superman1-3Close friends, co-workers and more are contacting me about the major announcement at SDCC regarding a Superman – Batman movie. I can’t help to roll my eyes as this has been in development since 2001 and has struck me as a bad idea from the get go. That’s not to say that I don’t think a good batman/Superman (or Superman/Batman movie is possible, I just don’t trust the WB to pull it off.

Look at the animated Batman series, the Superman cartoon and the Batman/Superman movie and you will see a series of sophisticated character-driven tales paying homage to decades of comic books and more with plenty of action and the eventual development into the Justice League followed by a full blown animated DC Universe.

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Look at Man of Steel and you can practically hear the screeching of gears as Zack Snyder struggles to modernize Superman into a harder, grittier hero more akin to Chris Nolan’s Batman.

This makes the meeting of Superman and Batman a moot point. Granted, this movie will likely require a new version of Batman, but the fun of having these characters meet is routed in their differences. As they are so dark and moody, this could be the most un-colorful comic book movie since the Dolph Lundgren Punisher flick… and that’s just weird.

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After Batman and Robin, Warner Bros was at a crossroads with several opportunities avaiulable to them from Batman Triumphant to Batman Beyond with Paul Dini, Neal Stephenson and Boaz Yakin all on board to adapt the cartoon of a possible future Batman for the big screen and Darren Aronofsky’s Batman Year One. In addition, there was the double-hitter of bad ideas, a Batman/Superman movie.

Why bad, you may ask? Check out the trail of tears regarding this monster compiled over on the Wikipedia:

Warner Bros. abandoned J. J. Abrams‘ script for Superman: Flyby, which had been greenlighted with McG to direct.[58][59] When McG dropped out in favor of Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle,[60]Warner Bros. approached Wolfgang Petersen to direct Superman: Flyby,[61] however, in August 2001,[62] Andrew Kevin Walker pitched Warner Bros. an idea titled Batman vs Superman, attaching Petersen as director. Superman: Flyby was put on hold,[61] and Akiva Goldsman was hired to rewrite Walker’s Batman vs. Superman.[46]

Goldsman’s draft, dated June 21, 2002, had Bruce Wayne going through a mental breakdown after his five-year retirement from crime fighting. Dick GraysonAlfred Pennyworth andCommissioner Gordon are all dead, but Bruce’s depressed emotions become resolved with fiancée Elizabeth Miller. Meanwhile, Clark Kent is struggling because of a recent divorce with Lois Lane. Clark and Bruce are close friends, and Clark is Bruce’s best man. After the Joker kills Elizabeth on the honeymoon, Bruce plots a revenge scheme, while Clark tries to hold him back. In return, Bruce blames Clark for her death, and the two go against one another. Part of the script took place in Smallville, where Clark goes into exile with Lana Lang. However, Lex Luthor is held to be responsible for the entire plot of Batman and Superman destroying each other. The two decide to team up and stop Luthor.[63]

Christian Bale and Josh Hartnett had turned down the roles of Batman and Superman. Bale, who was also approached to play Batman in the unmade Batman: Year One, would eventually portray the same role in Batman Begins.[60][64] Principal photography was to start in early 2003, with plans for a five-six-month shoot. The release date was set for mid-2004.[65] Within a month of Warner Bros. greenlighting Batman vs. Superman, Petersen left in favor of Troy (2004).[46] Warner Bros. decided to move forward on Superman: Flyby and on a Batman reboot.[46] A fictional billboard for the film could be seen in the background of the 2007 Warner Bros. film I Am Legend.[66] Petersen and Bryan Singer are interested in directing the project sometime in the future, with Bale as Batman.[67][68]

As you can tell, this news has prompted a rant, so be prepared.

I would like to point out that I adore the Nolan Batman trilogy as it modernizes the concept of a costumed vigilante and uses the myth of Batman to tell a story of the modern world’s decline. It’s a more of a brilliant set of movies on its own than it is a great Batman story and I applaud that. If a director can utilize a concept to tell an important story (much like Alan Moore did with Watchmen), that should be applauded.

But the stumbling block for me is that Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy is being misinterpreted as how the DC Universe of heroes should be presented to a modern audience.

Very few details are available right now, but I just cannot muster up any excitement about this as anything that builds off of Man of Steel has a sharp uphill climb or a piercing downfall. I haven’t seen anything, so my judgement is based on a continuation of the look and feel of The Dark Knight Trilogy and Man of Steel. I envision a bloodied, armor-torn Batman surrounded by ash and debris with a CGi Darkseid gloating over him, holding a limp Superman who looks like a side of tenderized beef.

When we could have this-
Batman and Superman
I thought it was the fact that I am now a parent with a son who would love to see his heroes on screen that makes my frustration with these grimly violent films so palpable, but I am hearing similar stories from single childless friends. There is potential here to make a family-friendly action-drama that knocks it out of the park with mind-blowing visuals, iconic characters and a story that honors these modern mythological characters rather than cutting them down, brutalizing them into ‘our world’ where hope is buried in a sea of skulls and the Batmobile is no longer a technological marvel but instead a military assault vehicle.

You could say that the Tim Burton Batman movie began this trend toward grittier more grounded heroes, but at least his movies had a weird sense of style and cartoon-ish madness to them. What spun out of this was a Batman who killed, and a deadbeat dad Superman who broke the neck of his opponents and struggled to maintain anonymity from the public that he should have been protecting, thus assuring that they suffer for his inaction.

And these are two of the more colorful and popularized comic book characters  known all over the world. Not so much today. Are we, as a culture, so cynical that we cannot conceive of a world where real heroes are possible?
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Beware the Batman: Hunted (and Wonder Woman too)

Beware_the_BatmanCreated in 1939, Batman is one of the most enduring pop culture icons of the modern world. At times a brutal vigilante, at others a campy crime fighter and most recently a post-modern statement on western civilization, Batman has so many facets but each one is generally regarded as definitive by fans. To some this means that the 1966 Adam West Batman is either an embarrassment or an icon, while others regard the Chris Nolan Batman films as perfection or perversion. as this is the latest in a very long line of animated versions of Batman, there is ample room for the creators to pick and choose how they would like to proceed.

Simon Liu of The Batman, Hulk Vs., and many other animated projects is helming this first computer generated Batman cartoon, one that will definitely divide fans straight away. As it also arrives on the tail of the Young Justice cancellation, it has a very steep uphill climb to earn new viewers. This is a very new take on Batman, a young crime fighter who is in prime physical condition yet still very mortal, something that his faithful butler and bodyguard Alfred Pennyworth is determined to fix. An-soldier (which is surprisingly in canon, for anyone interested), Alfred does his best to keep Bruce Wayne/Batman on his toes, but he has a secret edge… that we’ll get to later.

Professor Pyg and Toad are thankfully not the same distorted and violent characters from Batman and Robin, bit instead hearken back to the Dick Sprang hey day of the 50’s when Batman villains were over the top and bizarre. They drive around in a modified vintage car firing tranquilizers from a blunderbuss at industrialists who threaten ‘the animal world.’

For all its differences and visual changes, Batman still operates from a secret cave outside Gotham City, driving a jet-propelled Batmobile using batarangs and other high tech gear to fight crime. Rather than the faithful boy wonder, Katana is the assistant in this version of the Batman myth. Called into action for an old favor by Alfred, she should add an interesting edge to the series (no pun intended).

The cartoon strangely pays homage to many of Batman’s past mythologies and to DC Comics as well (with the Grant Morrison-created Professor Pyg and Toad kidnapping Simon Stagg from the old Metamorpho comics and Michael ‘Mister Terrific’ Holt also showing up). Pyg and Toad are seeking revenge for the ecological crimes that Gotham’s rich industrialists have incurred. Their punishment is to run the gamut like cornered animals, through a maze filled with booby traps.

Batman must endure the traps laid throughout Pyg and Toad’s fortress as well in his attempt to rescue the prisoners. using his wits and remarkable fighting abilities. Visually, the Batman moves very fluidly. There are several moments where he seems to disappear and re-appear as if by magic, making this one of the more impressive version of the hero in animated form. Newcomer Anthony Ruivivar makes a formidable voice actor for Batman (a role that many believe is owned by Kevin Conroy who voiced the dark knight for many years on the small screen, in direct to dvd films and even in video games).

I cannot say that you will love or hate this latest weekly Batman cartoon as it is so very strange and to be frank the animation style is a major hurdle. The entire episode felt more like a series of cut scenes from a video game ten years old. But that withstanding, I am in full approval of the new direction story wise and the inclusion of obscure and outlandish villains over the standard fare is a bold decision that the production staff should be applauded for.

Watch and judge for yourselves…

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In addition to the new Batman, viewers this Saturday were treated to a surprisingly different take on the Amazon Princess.

DC Nation Short Preview; “Wonder Woman”

Beware the Batman!

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A new updated CG animated Batman cartoon is on the way. Using a similar style seen in the Green Lantern cartoon, this modern take will be a very different vision of the caped crusader. For those fearing that it will stray too far from the classic Batman style, be assured that comic book legend Len Wein (of Swamp Thing, Uncanny X-Men and Batman) will be working on this series and has promised that it will be a knock out.

Personally, I’m still feeling the loss of Young Justice and this series looks a bit too hip and edgy for my taste, but that was the reaction many had to The Batman which I enjoyed. I’ll hold on judgement until I can see the finished product.

Via Newsarama:

“A cool, new take on the classic Dark Knight franchise, Beware the Batman incorporates Batman’s core characters with a rogues gallery of new villains not previously seen in animated form. Along with backup from ex-secret agent Alfred and lethal swordswoman Katana, the Dark Knight faces the twisted machinations of Gotham City’s criminal underworld led by the likes of Anarky, Professor Pyg, Mister Toad and Magpie. Produced by Warner Bros. Animation (WBA), this action-packed detective thriller deftly redefines what we have come to know as a ‘Batman show.’ WBA’s Sam Register serves as executive producer, with Glen Murakami (Batman Beyond) and Mitch Watson (Scooby-Doo! Mystery Inc.) producing.

“Starring Anthony Ruivivar (Banshee) as Batman/Bruce Wayne, Beware The Batman boasts a stellar voice cast with JB Blanc (The Count of Monte Cristo) as Alfred and Sumalee Montano (ER) as Katana. Lending voices to the villains are Wallace Langham (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation) as Anarky, Grey DeLisle (Green Lantern: The Animated Series) as Magpie, Udo Kier (Scooby-Doo! Mystery Inc.) as Mr. Toad, Lance Reddick (Fringe) as Ra’s al Ghul and Brian George (The Big Bang Theory) as Professor Pyg.”

BRUCE WAYNE:

A Richard Branson type billionaire adventurer with a twist: he’s fixated on crime. So much so that he sees it everywhere, giving him the ability to predict criminal behavior and piece together clues like a modern day Sherlock Holmes. But this ability came with it’s own price. It isolated Bruce, and since he is famous, dealing with crime as Bruce Wayne was out of the question. So he created The Batman.

THE BATMAN:

A vigilante hero born of darkness that can carry out what Bruce Wayne can’t. Batman is Bruce Wayne’s release valve. Batman keeps Bruce in balance. They even refer to each other as separate people. But make no mistake: Bruce and Batman are two sides of one man, and they need each other to survive.

ALFRED PENNYWORTH:

A former British MI-6 operative now retired. Wise, good with his fists, and not to be trifled with. A father figure and mentor to Bruce. But Alfred is getting older. Won’t be there forever so he’s bringing in someone he can trust who can look after Bruce.

TATSU “KATANA” YAMASHIRO:

Former CIA, she is also Alfred’s goddaughter, and the child of his late MI-6 partner. Although she is cold and meticulous with a sword, Katana is not good at controlling her emotions. Despite being hired as Bruce Wayne’s bodyguard, it soon becomes clear that her real value is as Batman’s protégé.

LEGO Batman: The Movie – DC Super Heroes Unite

I have never let go of my love of toys. I know they are not for everyone, but playing can transport you from adulthood to a world of near-infinite possibilities. I was honestly not that into Legos as a kid, but being a dad I have found myself building rockets, monster trucks and robots out of thin air and imagination. The Lego Batman series is lots of fun and embraces the kind of innocent fun and inventiveness that I see in my son while he concentrates on a building project. The DC Universe is transformed into miniature toy creations where the rules of reality are entirely rewritten.

If you like comic books and still have that playful side, you need to see this.

LEGO Batman: The Movie – DC Super Heroes Unite provides the ultimate blend of action and humor guaranteed to entertain fanboys of all ages. The film finds Lex Luthor taking jealousy to new heights when fellow billionaire Bruce Wayne wins the Man of the Year Award. To top Wayne’s accomplishment, Lex begins a campaign for President – and to create the atmosphere for his type of fear-based politics, he recruits the Joker to perfect a Black LEGO Destructor Ray. While wreaking havoc on Gotham, Lex successfully destroys Batman’s technology – forcing the Caped Crusader to reluctantly turn to Superman for help.

The film will be available as a Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and OnDemand starting May 21, 2013. It is now available to own via Digital Download. Initial Blu-ray Combo Pack & DVD release will include an exclusive Lego Clark Kent/Superman figurine on pack while supplies last.

Black Mask has put the hit on the caped crusader in Batman: Arkham Origins

It’s interesting to see news on the upcoming Batman video game and the name dropping of the all-but-forgotten Robin, Stephanie Brown.

Stephanie Brown cosplay by Aigue-Marine

Stephanie Brown cosplay by Aigue-Marine

batman-arkham-origins-featured-imageVia Newsarama:

Game Informer’s month of Batman: Akrham Origins coverage, looking in-depth at the just-announced prequel to the popular Arkham games, continues, now revealing Batman’s new top foe. While The Joker ruled in Arkham Asylum and returned for a major arc in Arkham City, in Origins we’re seeing a much deeper underworld. The man hiring the assassins to come kill this new hero Batman has been revealed as Black Mask.

There are two characters who have been known as Black Mask in the world of DC Comics. The first, Roman Sidonis, is the one appearing in the game. As Sidonis, he could have run in the same social circles as Bruce Wayne, but as he transformed himself to Black Mask in the literal blood of his parents, he became the underworld leader who would, at one point, unite Gotham’s gangs and even kill a Robin (Stephanie Brown).

“We realize that Black Mask is not necessarily as prominent in people’s minds as some other classic Batman villains, so we realize we also need to do work to explain why he’s really cool and make him felt in the game,” creative director Eric Holmes told GI. “It’s not something people bring a lot of baggage to when you see the Black Mask, so we have to do the work to make him scary.”

As the head of Janus Cosmetics and the new Mob leader, Black Mask’s “brutal and sadistic” nature from the comics will translate over to the game, promises Warner Montreal.

“His thing is torture. That is what gets his rocks off,” Holmes said. “And he’s really good at it.”

The setting of a full Gotham City was also expounded upon. The game is set in midwinter of “Year 2″ of the Batman’s crime-fighting career, with the Christmastime setting giving them “a beautiful thing in an ugly place,” says Holmes. Gotham will be a much larger world than the previous games, and will also represent a world lost to time, much like Batman: The Animated Series. The locations fans remember in Arkham City will still be there – but as normal locations in the more than twice-as-large city. To navigate the three-tiered city, a fast travel by way of the Bat-plane will be offered for the first time, as well.

Earth 2 gets a new Batman this May!

James Robinson’s Earth 2 series has been gaining support in its short run to date. Set on an alternate Earth where Darkseid’s army waged a devastating war that robbed the planet of its Trinity of heroes (Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman), the monthly book has depicted a gradual unveiling of new takes on classic heroes and villains such as the Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkgirl, the Atom and this week, Doctor Fate.

This May, a new caped crusader will enter the fray as Earth 2 finds itself home to a new Batman.

(preview art below)

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Via Comics-x-aminer

A new age of “Wonders” is dawning.

This May, EARTH 2 ANNUAL #1 will fly into stores. Written by James Robinson and illustrated by Yildiray Cinar, CAFU, and Julius Gopez, EARTH 2 ANNUAL #1 features a stunning cover by Andy Kubert, and introduces the new Batman of Earth 2!

Today, THE SOURCE is excited to give you a first look at this new Batman. In the gallery above, take a sneak peak at the interior art for EARTH 2 ANNUAL #1, featuring the new Caped Crusader leaping into action and continuing the fight against crime. But who could be under the mask? And how will the “Wonders” react to a new Batman? Place your bets in the comments section below!
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Batman 1966 TV comic book series by Jeff Parker on the way!

As a kid, I was practically raised on the Batman 1966 TV series. Starring Adam West and Burt ward, the pop art/absurdist action-drama was non-stop joy-inducing entertainment. Due to some legal complications, the TV program has never been released on DVD and products were scarce. Recently, product announcements have surfaced for action figures and toy replicas based on the ’66 Batman series.

Finally, a new comic book is on the way, written by Jeff Parker, popular author of numerous comics such as Agents of Atlas, Hulk and Thunderbolts.

With Parker on board, this could be the funnest comic on the stands.
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Comic book fans also got a special treat when DC Entertainment unveiled art for its all-new digital comic book series BATMAN ’66, launching in summer 2013. Inspired by the classic TV series, the digital comic book features many fan-favorite characters like Catwoman, The Riddler, The Joker and, of course, the dynamic duo of Batman and Robin. Written by Jeff Parker, the series will feature cover art by Michael Allred and the first issue will be drawn by Eisner Award winner Jonathan Case. BATMAN ’66 will also be collected and available for sale in monthly print issues.

“The juxtaposition of offering a retro BATMAN ’66 comic as a current and modern digital first title is fun,” stated DC Entertainment President, Diane Nelson. “DC Entertainment is the most prolific producer of digital first comics and, as we work to create new and compelling content, this is a great way to also preserve the legacy of our characters. It’s exciting to roll out the new BATMAN ’66 comic as part of this bigger initiative with our Warner Bros Consumer Product partners.”

Artifacts from the original Batman Classic TV Series were featured during the event, including the original iconic Batmobile, as well as authentic pieces from Comisar Collection that provided the “Robin” costume as worn by actor Burt Ward, the original Bat-Shield that Batman and Robin frequently used to protect themselves from their foes, the Bat-Phone from the Batmobile and the Bat-O-Rang prop used by Robin throughout the series. In addition, guests had the opportunity to hang out in a replica of the famous Batcave as depicted in the classic television series.

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For the full press release: click here!

So… how long before we see a DVD release of the entire program?!

Batman’s origin retold in Zero Year

When DC Entertainment relaunched 52 comics, the dark knight was all but untouched as his comic was running smoothly under Scott Snyder. After the closure of Batman Incorporated and the Death of the Family, however, all of that may change.

This summer DC is going to once more return to the caped crusader’s beginnings, but what will be different this time around?

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This is hardly the first time that Batman’s origin has gotten a face life and while there have been deviations and edits over the years from 1964’s revamp to Len Wein’s Untold Legend of the Batman in the 198 to Frank Miller and David Mazzuchelli’s Batman Year One, it appears that there may be some big surprises in store.

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Batman’s transformative years are getting a few new twists.

(via ABCNews.com)

DC Entertainment is going back into Bruce Wayne’s past to see how he began his transformation from wealthy socialite to the scourge of Gotham’s criminal underworld.

Key elements of the character’s history are staying the same — the murder of Wayne’s parents, for example — says Scott Snyder, the writer of “Batman” since its relaunch debuted in 2011.

“It’s not ‘let’s redo the origin,'” he said Monday. “It’s time for a new story showing how Batman became who he is in the New 52.”

Snyder said the decision grew out of the success of the first year-and-a-half of DC’s New 52, a sweeping reorganization of the publisher’s characters that saw many given new origins and costumes that blended those from their first appearances decades ago with contemporary changes.

Snyder said readers will see how the crime fighter found his calling and what challenges he faced when first donning the costume of the Dark Knight.

The augmented origin begins June in the pages of “Batman” in an 11-issue story called “The Zero Year” that is illustrated by Greg Capullo.

“We tried to preserve as much of Batman’s history as we could and keep what we could of this history intact,” Snyder said of the change. “It’s ‘The Zero Year,’ the one that no one has told the story of before. We see how Bruce became the Batman, built the cave, faced off with his first super villain.”

It’s not so much an origin story as it is a view into Batman’s formative years.

“We’re not going to take apart ‘Year One,'” Snyder said, referring to the Frank Miller-David Mazzucchelli four-issue arc that recounted how Wayne began to fight crime after years away.

Instead Snyder, an Eagle Award-winning writer whose other efforts for DC include “Swamp Thing” and “American Vampire,” said the “Zero Year” story will give readers new glimpses into the Bob Kane-created character who made his first appearance in the pages of “Detective Comics” No. 27 in May 1939.

“It’s time for a new story showing how Batman became who he is in the New 52,” said Snyder. “It builds up the mythology.”

Is Chris Nolan in charge of Justice League? Will Christain Bale return as Batman?

The Justice League motion picture, a project that would potentially depict the heavy hitters of the DC Universe, made most familiar to members of my generation by the Super Friends cartoon. A Justice League movie would feature Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern and possibly Martian Manhunter and Aquaman (they’d be fools to not include the King of Atlantis no matter what anyone says) all on screen at the same time fighting some monumental foe(s).
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However, there have been numerous setbacks including budgetary concerns and the unimpressive results of the Green Lantern movie which was intended to pave the way for the JLA as Iron Man took the first steps toward an Avengers project. Warner Bros. is now hoping that Zack Snyder and Chris Nolan’s Man of Steel will fill that role and the movie can finally get underway. Rumor is that the script is a mess and the casting still in wraps. Will the team consist of all new faces or will there be any returning actors?

Take a massive cube of salt with these rumors… but here they are.

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Image from Injustice: Gods Among Us

Via Forbes.com

The impossible may be happening, fans — we could be returning to Gotham City at the same bat-time, same bat-channel. Latino Review is reporting that director Christopher Nolan is in talks to come back for more. More Batman, that is. But in what manner? Not what you’d expect — read on for details!

Keep in mind, the reports are that negotiations and talks are still ongoing and nothing is set in stone yet. So, this news is all tentative at the moment, but the reports from Latino Review jibe with what I’ve heard from some of my own sources. Batman-On-Film (BOF) has some additional insights in Bill Ramey’s report as well.*

The director would reportedly bring Batman back to the screen in the same overall “world” that existed in the previous three films… and Christian Bale is reportedly expected to return as Bruce Wayne!

But if that’s not enough of a shocking revelation for you, try this on for size: the new film would actually be a team-up film, putting Nolan’s Batman alongside Henry Cavill reprising his role as the new cinematic Superman (introduced in this summer’s upcoming Man of Steel from Nolan, Zack Snyder, and David Goyer) and possibly/probably additional superheroes as well.

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Image from Injustice: Gods Among Us

That’s right, dear readers, the Nolan Batman may be teaming up with the rebooted Superman, in a Justice League movie (or, possibly, a Superman-Batman team-up movie, but Justice League seems more likely at the moment).

At this time, Nolan is reportedly in talks to be involved as producer, with Snyder as a producer and possible director, and it might involve a story by Goyer.

This is among the biggest film news of the year, along with the announcement of Disney buying LucasFilms to develop new Star Wars movies. And it would involve one of the most powerful filmmaking teams, coming aboard what could potentially become the biggest superhero franchises in cinema.

The story is getting lots of momentum, including IGN:

Christian Bale is in talks to reprise his role as Batman in DC’s upcoming Justice League movie, Christopher Nolan will oversee the project, and Man of Steel-helmer Zack Snyder will produce – and possibly direct – if a new report from Latino Review is to be believed.

The website claims that Nolan is now in charge of the entire DCU at Warner Bros., and is in discussions to act as a sort of Godfather to the project, as well as produce alongside Zack Snyder. The studio allegedly wants the film to be set in the same universe as Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, which naturally means a return of Bale’s Batman. Not only that, but Justice League would also tie in with Snyder’s gritty Man of Steel, which means – you guessed it – Bale’s Batman and Henry Cavill’s Superman would appear in the same universe, in the same movie, at the same time.

As the website correctly notes, Bale wouldn’t be against reprising the role, as long as the story was right. “I would love the challenge of making a fourth one work,” he told Empire Magazine last summer.

So what is your opinion?

Do you think Bale will star in a Justice League movie? If so, it would grant some credibility to the project and generate lots of excitement rather than recasting the part once more.

The JLA by Alex Ross

The JLA by Alex Ross

Justice League has a tentative June 2015 release date.

What does Batman’s Robin mean to us?

Robin's First Appearance

Robin’s First Appearance

Introduced a short time after Batman exploded on the comic book page, Robin the Boy Wonder was once a wildly popular character, someone that the young reader could identify with. Since comics had grown in popularity among soldiers in the field during WWII, readership included an older demographic but after wartime youngsters were becoming interested. An older bachelor fighting crime from atop a mansion was too far removed for a kid, so someone closer to the background of a feisty (yet respectful) boy was introduced. It created an atmosphere of comraderie and lightened the Batman’s somber attitude.

With a partner, Batman had someone to talk to, creating new possibilities for the creative team and more options for the reader. But… some say that Batman works better alone as a dark vigilante and that a brightly colored kid in pixie boots ruins his spectre of the night credibility.

When the decision was made to allow Dick Grayson to wear pants and leave the Batcave, it left a void alongside the caped crusader and started a trend of replacement Robins that has lasted to this day. There have been many Robins over the decades and (in most cases) each one has grown into his/her own characters. This week, the latest Robin Damian Wayne met his grisly end, a story that has had the media abuzz and many non-comic fans confused. Which Robin died? And what does it mean?

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Four Robins: Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake and Damian Wayne

For myself, the most popular of the Robins isn’t just Dick Grayson, but Dick Grayson as played by Burt Ward in the 1966 TV series. An absurd vision of comic book sensibilities, comedy and mock-drama, the TV Robin spoke in the weirdest diction and seemed to view plots against the free world as seriously dangerous as jaywalking. In a state of constant surprise and bewilderment, it seemed that Ward had a live wire running through him, keeping his performance energized at all times.

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Burt Ward, Robin on TV in 1966

The 1960’s comic book followed suit and replicated this version of Batman and Robin to an extent, but grew tired of it in time and developed a more sophisticated take on the dynamic duo; moving Dick into college and Bruce into a Gotham City penthouse. Robin earned a strong following, became an astute detective, a companion to Batgirl and even the leader of a group of former sidekicks, the Teen Titans. Robin was outgrowing his nest and becoming a man. In this way, he mirrored the maturing demographic of the readers who were becoming accustomed to more many-faceted characters.

This clever, youthful and resourceful version of Robin has populated the modern animated world in cartoons such as The Batman, Teen Titans and Young Justice. Not a junior version of Batman, Robin is brilliant and shrewd but not tragically bent toward vengeance and revenge. He is driven toward perfection, perhaps a reflection of is training on the trapeze. He also relied on a his own set of gadgets and weaponry, including fighting sticks and a staff, cribbed from Grayson’s time as Nightwing and the second Robin, Jason Todd.

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An animated version of Robin

In the 1980’s, it was decided that a new Robin was needed and a kind of ersatz Dick Grayson named Jason Todd was the solution. This didn’t sit well with readers and when the opportunity arose to revamp the character with a new origin in 1985, he became a street punk caught trying to rob the Batmobile. This new Jason Todd was a devil-may-care hooligan with an edge that would appeal to the rebellious 80’s teen reader.

However, there was backlash against this new Robin. He was different from Grayson, but so anti-establishment that he challenged readers to accept him. Finally it was decided to make a bold move that would challenge the working relationship between Batman and Robin. Jason’s long-lost mother was discovered which split Todd from his mentor in a mad search for her. When he found her, he also found the Joker and was beaten to pulp with a crowbar before being blown to pieces by an explosion.

Batman was too late to save his young ward, too late to rescue him from what might have been his fateful end.

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More recently, a third Robin was created, Tim Drake. Rather than having Drake be someone who stumbled into Batman’s life, Drake forced his way in through study, training, and deep research. The most intelligent of the Robins, Drake became a runaway hit and enjoyed a long-lasting solo series along with a place among the Teen Titans (called Young Justice). He has gradually moved away from his role as Robin as he can see the shadow of the Batman as something that could envelope him. Instead he has become his own person, much as Grayson had before him. Renamed Red Robin (no relation to the restaurant chain), Drake is a member of another version of the Teen Titans.

In many ways, Drake was a step back toward the more traditional Grayson-Robin and a mirror to the reader. But some tweaking in his fighting style and costume made him 100 times more modern and cooler than his predecessor. He was also far more cunning and resourceful than the others, leaving his mark as possibly one of the best Robins of all. In print, his solo adventures were extremely popular (thanks in no small part to Chuck Dixon who wrote Batman, Birds of Prey, Nightwing and Robin).

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Tim Drake, Robin

When Drake split from Batman, his teenage girlfriend and daughter of the villainous Cluemaster was graduated into the red/green outfit. Stephanie Brown was Robin so briefly before dying that she barely gets any recognition in the comic, let alone a monument in the Batcave. Because of the restarts and revisions of DC timelines, Stephanie’s death has been undone, but her role in the Batverse is nebulous, making her yet another member of the costumed crime fighting Bat-family rather than having her own persona. It’s a shame because Brown was very popular as Spoiler and a female Robin is a great visual (as had been seen in Frank Miller’s Dark Knight series).

The fact that she briefly appeared in Batman Incorporated (since said to be set in the recent past) but in no other DC Comic is something of a puzzler (no pun intended) and I have to wonder if DC is thinking of bringing her back as Robin given that there is now an opening.

The role of Robin quickly became that of a conscience for the dark knight, a reality check in the form of a fragile young hero daring danger in a brightly colored outfit while the hero lurked in the shadows.

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Stephanie Brown, the ‘forgotten’ Robin

In other modern media, Robin has been a more risky undertaking. Director Tim Burton had modernized and darkened the image of the caped crusader, making the introduction of a colorful sidekick an absurdity (though storyboards of Robin’s intro in the 1989 film exist and a Robin action figure was released for Batman Returns using a passing likeness to Marlon Wayans who was almost cast in the part). Michael Keaton’s tortured and brooding figure just did not gel with the notion of a spritely companion.

But after Burton was off the Batman films, all that changed and Chris O’Donnell played the ‘boy’ wonder in Batman Forever and Batman and Robin. The actor was clearly too old to play the traditional part of youthful acrobat, making his ‘adoption’ by a man not even a decade older than him appear strange at best. But I do have to say that in my opinion, O’Donnell did a serviceable job in the role, even with the dreadful material he had to work with. Against Kilmer and Clooney, O’Donnell served the purpose of being a sounding board, giving the films a little more diversity and the audience members another inlet to the story… in theory, anyway. In practice he was another action figure for the ‘toyetic’ franchise designed to sell tie-in merchandise.

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Chris O’Donnell played Robin on the big screen in two films

In 1987, Batman and Talia (daughter of the arch foe Ra’s Al Ghul) had a child. Ra’s Al Ghul had been hoping that Batman would take up his mantle as ruler of the world, rescuing it from its own excesses, but when the two failed to come to an agreement, another avenue presented itself. If not Bruce Wayne, then his child would be the ideal replacement. In 2006, Damian Wayne was introduced into the Batman universe. A smart-mouthed reckless punk, he grew intp the perfect 21st century version of Robin.

When Bruce Wayne died (twice, so it would seem) and was dispersed through time, Dick Grayson became Batman in his mentor’s stead and also inherited the troublesome youth, Damian, as his sidekick. The two resented each other but in time found a kind of equal footing. Even in his final moments, Damian remarked that they were a great team. The new Robin was a reactionary, a dark shadow on the legacy of Batman. Not just a protege, Damian was the once and future Batman, and as he continually pointed out to Grayson, Todd and Drake, he was the only real Robin due to his blood relation while they were pretenders.

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Batman reborn (Dick Grayson) and Robin (Damian)

When Grant Morrison started his long journey as the writer of Batman, he offered readers a vision of a possible hell-on-Earth future Gotham City in which Damian Wayne continued his father’s war on crime. That will of course never happen now that Damian has died, but it was interesting nonetheless to see the protege use a fusion of his father’s teaching and the brutal tactics of the League of Shadows in order to defeat the enemies of his city.

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Batman of the dark future (Damian Wayne)

There have been many deaths in comic books and they are generally regarded as temporary since heroes seem to not so much go toward a graceful end but more through a revolving door that sees them come back in short order. One such instance is the death of Jason Todd, the successor to Dick Grayson. Todd was reckless and headstrong which led to his predicament at the hands of the Joker where not Batman but the readers themselves were granted the privilege of saving the youth. At a cost per call, Todd was voted out of the series and into oblivion.

Many years later, Jason Todd resurfaced as ‘The Red Hood,’ a tough and ruthless vigilante using any means necessary to defeat his enemies. One of the few deaths in comics that stood the test of time, bringing Todd back to life always struck me as cheap at worst and awkward at best. As a Robin, Todd was an interesting reaction to Grayson’s straight-laced hero. As a dead Robin, Todd served as a harsh reminder of the consequences of Batman’s war on crime. As far as I can see, he serves no real purpose in the current DCU other than a leather-jacketed bad-ass.

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Jason Todd’s death by election in Batman: A Death in the Family

So, just what is the point of Robin, anyway? And why is his death ‘important’?

There is a valid opinion that Batman works better alone and that Robin is an antiquated idea from a simpler age when youngsters were the target audience. However there have been so many different and successful approaches to the character of the dark knight’s sidekick that I think those naysayers are merely lacking the proper exposure to the character.

Over the following weeks, the Batman monthly books will be paying homage to the death of Damian Wayne in an interlinked series of covers bearing the legend ‘Requiem’ adding the stylized R from Robin’s tunic. It is expected that Batman will not be a loner for long, leading some to to wonder if a previous Robin will once more take up the mantle or if a new acrobatic orphan will be donning the red and green togs.

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