Okay, I’m a bit late in writing about this, but folks are still complaining about it, so it’s still relevant. A few months ago the news broke out that Robert Pattinson will be starring in the upcoming film The Batman. Fan reaction to this announcment has been typical. Basically, every time a new actor has been cast as Batman, a large vocal group of “fans” decalare it to be the worst choice ever, and go bonkers.
Although I must say that even I was a bit taken aback by this particular fellow’s reaction in a Facebook post that I friend of mine made in support of this decision.
Yeah, don’t be that guy.
Well I personally am disappointed, but mostly because I wanted to see how Ben Affleck did in his own Batman movie, as I really enjoyed his performance in Batman v Superman and Justice League, despite not enjoying those films overall. In particular, I liked the idea or seeing a Batman film where Batman was in his 40’s, and was a seasoned vetern who’d already spent over 20 years in the role.
I have nothing specifically against Pattinson, so I’m willing to withhold judgment on him until I see the film. I’m not really familiar with his work, having only seen him in the first Twilight film and this other weird little film called Cosmopolis. But apparently his movie is going to be a prequel to Ben Affleck’s Batman, set in the 1990’s with a younger Bruce Wayne starting off his career as Batman.
Now that’s the part I’m disappointed with. Again, I liked Ben Affleck’s Batman because it was something different. We’ve already had “young Bruce Wayne” in Batman Begins (not to mention the recently completed Gotham TV series), and a bunch of other films starring an “in his prime” Bruce Wayne as Batman. But I wanted to see Batman would was older and much more experienced. I wanted to see how a middle-aged Bruce, pushing 50, would adapt his methods to acting as Batman, knowing that as hard as he strived to stay physically fit there would be certain realities about his limits that he would just have to accept. But now this idea of what is coming in the Pattison film feels like a step backwards, storywise. But I have a solution, something that I would prefer to see. If they want to do a story about a young Batman just starting out his career, why does it have to be Bruce Wayne? There’s another option…
He has long been seen by many comic-book fans as Bruce Wayne’s rightful heir to the mantle of Batman. And he has assumed the role a few times in comics, albeit ultimately temporarily. Most recently it was Grant Morrison who, in the wake of Bruce Wayne’s supposed death, had Dick Grayson take over the role of Batman, along with Bruce’s biological son Damien as the new Robin, and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed that new series, as did many others.
And it also helps that it could be argued that “Dick Grayson” as a character is almost as iconic Batman and Superman are. The thing that makes those character work so well is that even “civilians” who’ve never read a single comic book know that Batman is Bruce Wayne, and Superman is Clark Kent, and Spider-Man is Peter Parker, etc. Certainly everyone also knows that Batman’s partner is Robin. And most still think of Robin as being Dick Grayson. So even if they don’t know the history of Dick’s promotion to Nightwing and the existence of the other Robin’s, I don’t think it would be too confusing to the mainstream audience or require too much explanation in a new film to bring in Robert Pattison and have it shown through brief flashbacks that he was the original Robin, grew up and moved out on his own eventually, and now he is back.
Shoot, it worked in Antonio Banderas’ MASK OF ZORRO where he played a protege of the original Zorro. Not to mention the George Hamilton film, ZORRO, THE GAY BLADE, which was about the twin sons of the original taking over role.
So why not try this in the Batman movies now? There have now been ten live action films, and two multi-part serials back in the 1940’s, featuring the Bruce Wayne version of Batman. Let’s try something different! Although I know that Warner Bros. has (wisely) decided to be a bit more lax regarding continuity of their DC films, I’d say makes this next solo Batman film a sequel to the Ben Affleck version. Say that Bruce Wayne is missing and presumed dead and Dick Grayson has returned to Gotham City to pick up where he left off. Bring back Jeremy Irons as Alfred and J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon. I’d even keep Joe Manganiello as Deathstroke as the main villain. The two characters have a long history both in the comics and other media which could be referred in the new film.
Deathstoke had been an enemy of Dick’s since the time Dick was Robin. So just as Dick is now trying to fill in Bruce Wayne’s shoes, Deathstrokes comes to town and constantly taunts him about not being up to the task. He can even keep derisively calling him Robin, feeding on Dick’s insecurities. And that’s Dick’s character-arc for the film, he starts off trying to be confident but not feeling absolutely sure if he’s ready for this. It’s not until the third act where he finally gains the self-assurance he needs, I can even imagine some climatic “My name is Neo” type of scene where, perhaps during a brutal battle with Deathstroke, Dick finally says the two words: “I’m Batman!” And after he defeats the villain, the film ends with an iconic shot of Dick, as Batman, standing on a building at night with the Bat signal shining in the distance…
And for an after-credits scene, which get something that teases the forthcoming arrival of Talia Al Ghul and Damien…