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Why Joss Whedon should reboot Batman

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Joss Whedon is awesome. Batman is awesome. Therefore Joss Whedon is Batman...?

Why Joss Whedon should reboot Batman

With Christopher Nolan having wrapped up his Batman / Dark Knight trilogy last summer (with a pretty much perfect ending to the story, in this writer's opinion), the question is (riddle me this...), where does the cinematic Batman franchise go from here?

Obviously, any filmmaker would have a hard time following on from Nolan's excellent effort, a diverse yet coherent, complex yet thrilling, thought-provoking yet popular, trilogy. One way of solving that problem is to get someone who's guaranteed to make awesome.

Joss Whedon, of course.

(Or, you know, Michael Bay, but that's a different and less critically acclaimed kind of awesome.)

Joss Whedon has recently said that he'd like to make a Batman movie, adding yet another possibility to his already overflowing hypothetical to-do list. (Can to-do lists overflow? Or do they simply stop (or become much less legible) when they get to the edge of the paper?) Anyway, a large subset of his hypothetical to-do list is his actual to-do list (including writing and directing The Avengers 2, consulting on other Marvel Phase 2 movies, and showrunning Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), so it's unlikely that he will get to the rest any time soon.

And once his contract with Marvel expires with the release of The Avengers 2, Joss Whedon will probably take a break from all this superhero-juggling, quipping that his next project will probably be “a one-man show...possibly one monkey.” Which, of course, obviously means that it'll be an adaptation of Batman drawing on the DC Goes Ape! comics, with Ape!Batman brooding alone in Gotham City. Or, you know, a one-monkey adaptation of Hamlet. (For instance, 'Oooohaha oo Noooohaha?', meaning “To be or not to be...?”)

Yes, some people juggle geese. And some people juggle superheroes...

And such an analogy cries out for some kind of at least tenuous link to the classic X-Men move the fastball special; like the one he wrote so awesomely for the comic book title Astonishing X-Men. I don't know what the equivalent would be for a project in terms of this analogy. Hurling a surprise Wolverine cameo at the audience? (Though that probably can't happen due to rights issues.)

Joss Whedon has said that Batman is a Marvel character in a DC universe. Presumably, rather than being some kind of ploy to get them to let him make a Batman movie under his Marvel Studios contract (you can't defeat lawyers that easily; you have to take them on with vampires; at least, as the documentary series Angel convincingly argues), he means that Batman is complex and flawed and human and relateable and awesome. (Sorry, DC. Nothing personal; you're great and all (actually, yes; this is not just flattery), but character depth is where Marvel has the edge.) And Joss Whedon's storytelling has been heavily influenced by Marvel's approach; to such an extent that exploring character complexity, especially in the serialised storytelling afforded by television, is one of Whedon's greatest strengths. This both means that the upcoming Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a dream come true for Whedon fans (it's a Joss Whedon show, set in the Marvel universe; and, given his recent level of commercial and critical and mainstream audience success, probably won't get cancelled--did we fall asleep?), and also that he's ideally suited to adapt any similar characters. Like Batman.

Batman broods over Gotham City. The character has the kind of psychological complexity that Joss Whedon would be perfect to explore in a reboot

Batman is a dark and gritty, psychologically complex character, but in the comics, the other characters constantly make fun of him for being so brooding and gloomy (like Angel, in fact). He's a lone wolf (or Bat), but also relies on his friends (insofar as he can be described as having such) and allies. This tension between aloneness and relationality, especially in relation to the call/impetus/duty/burden of being a hero, echoes much of Whedon's previous work, especially Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

However, since Joss Whedon is currently best filmmaking buddies with Marvel, maybe there's some kind of unwritten rule that even when his contract expires, he can't then go on to work on the Distinguished Competition; some kind of corollary of the internet's unwritten rule that Marvel fanboys must hate DC and DC fanboys must hate Marvel, with no nuance or giving ground or whatever. Because they're totally mutually exclusive. Because. Just because.

Maybe, to paraphrase the title of a Dollhouse episode, DC fans would view him as A Spy From the House of Ideas.

Having said all this, Joss Whedon has many other projects on his plate (or schedule) with which a potential Batman reboot would have to compete, and some of them (particularly any smaller, original projects he gets to make) would require his particular set of skills (wait, no, that's another franchise altogether...) to a greater extent. There's more than one person who can make a Batman movie, but no-one else can make a Doctor Horrible's Sing-a-Long Blog (unless their surname is also Whedon). It's the geek version of the economic principle of comparative advantage. (With superheroes instead of economics!)

Thus, this article is simply trying to argue that Joss Whedon would be an excellent choice to write and direct a Batman movie; not that it would necessarily be disastrous otherwise. Of course, Christopher Nolan has left a lot to live up to, and left us with a definitive conclusion to Bruce Wayne / Batman's story, so no reboot is necessary. But Batman is an enduring and iconic and adaptable character, as with many comic book (super)heroes, and so a cinematic reboot of some kind is inevitable. Not only does this kind of thing happen all the time in comics, but it's even been pulled off recently on film, as displayed by Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man, and reportedly also Zack Snyder's Man of Steel. While Snyder had experience with comic book adaptations, as has Whedon, Webb only had his apt surname (and his fandom of comics, and talent) to prove his suitability for such a movie to executives, but he turned out to be the right man for the job, and it showed onscreen. So maybe a relative unknown, who's probably a passionate Batman fan, will come along and blow us all away with their vision of Batman.

But a Joss Whedon Batman film would be excellent. Or, for that matter, a TV series, since his strong point is exploring characters in great depth and nuance over time, which television naturally lends itself to.


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#1 RE: Why Joss Whedon should reboot Batman Kris 2013-07-04 06:55
He thinks Batman is a Marvel character in the DC universe? Thank god they went with Nolan.
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