An open letter to Warner Bros.
Dear Warner Executives,
Anyone who follows movies knows that you've been in overdrive trying to figure out how to create a new Batman film without pissing everyone off. The Dark Knight Rises is the last one after all and Nolan & Co. have made it abundantly clear that the story ends here. I for one applaud them. They've had an opportunity to tell a complete trilogy, without feeling the pressure of having to milk it for cash. This creative spirit and knowing when to exit has lead to not just three good superhero films, but three good films. Period. You should be proud.
But a "good" film is really only as good as the theater receipts as far as your concerned. And despite Man of Steel gearing up, I'm sure you're antsy to get the Bat-Signal back in the sky. It's a proven property and the urge to ride the latest crest of good will must be great. Word has it, you're even working on a Justice League concept to mirror Marvel's Avengers film. A movie complete with Batman, Superman, The Flash, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern. Once again, I understand that you probably think that if 'it worked for Marvel it'll work for us'. I'm going to ask that you stop right there. Don't. You're not Marvel, nor should you wish to be and let's face it, a live action Justice League film would never work in a million years. Not even if you set it up the same way (by giving each hero their own movie). There, since that's settled, we can talk about your strengths.
You have a lot going for you, you have Man of Steel coming out soon. However, I'm sure you're nervous about that one, given Superman's checkered past. You also have Arrow coming to The CW and by all accounts it seems to be getting early favorable comments. You are also the owner of what is considered one of the best video games ever, Arkham Asylum. None of the other games licensed by Marvel is as well written, acted or put together (and I LOVE X-Men Legends!). But perhaps your greatest strength lies in your animation department. Marvel's animated properties have been spotty (this will probably change since they're now owned by Disney), but you're direct to DVD films have been consistent all the way. Congratulations! Not all of them are perfect and I do have my favorites, but overall, you've done a wonderful job. Bruce Timm deserves a raise. This is where I segue way into the 'tough love' portion of the letter.
There's no way in hell you can cast a new Batman film, with a new director and have people enjoy it the same way. Despite Marvel's tactic of rebooting films after only four years, this would be hubris on your part. People will notice...because Nolan's films cross boundaries. They work as films regardless of genre. Once again you should be proud. Wear your quality over quantity like a badge of honor. Now you're probably wondering how you cash in on the Bat-fever without tripping over yourselves. Simple, use your strengths. People would be angered over a new live action Batman film, but they would adore the theatrical release of an animated one. Hey, maybe you could re-release the under-appreciated Mask of the Phantasm. This way you could get families into the film, and complete at least three of the four quadrants you guys are always after. Also, people that watched Batman The Animated Series as kids are grown up now and have kids of their own. They would probably jump at the chance to share something they enjoyed with their own children. Let's recap: Batman=good, recasting live action=bad, animation=good, a business decision that distinguishes you from your competition=priceless.
That it for me. Keep making good movies and if you ever want to hear a pitch for a Catwoman television series, hit me up.