Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy may be the absolute apex of the superhero genre, but its brilliance and impact on pop culture has also been a curse — especially for DC, who wrongly assumed the dark and gritty approach Nolan took to Batman could also work for Superman. The Dark Knight may have set the standard for what a comic book movie can be, but it also made everything that followed seem kind of basic.
So, it's fitting that the next attempt at a sprawling superhero epic told in three parts will most likely come from #DC, and will once again focus on Gotham's Caped Crusader. Matt Reeves, director of The Batman, is no stranger to trilogies himself (various critics have described his Planet of the Apes saga as the best trilogy since The Dark Knight) and in conversation with Fandango, he elaborated on the process of creating The Batman's story, and whether that story will give rise to a trilogy:
"I have ideas about an arc, but really, the important thing is just to start… you have to start with one. You know, you have to start with a story that begins something. And I would be lying if I could tell you that the arc of 'Apes' was already planned out, because it simply wasn’t ... When Mark and I began 'Dawn', we knew what our goals were, but we didn’t know how we were gonna get there, and I would say that that more relates to the way that I see a Batman story, [as] a kind of ambition for a series of stories, but really the most important thing is gonna be to tell a vital first story."
The Forgotten Importance Of Story
These days franchise fever often results in every movie feeling like an advert for what comes next — Marvel's Doctor Strange is a great example of that, a hollow story which only seemed to exist to introduce Doctor Strange himself as a potential Avenger and increase the number of MCU heroes pre-Infinity War — which quickly becomes exhausting. The fundamentals of good filmmaking are all entwined in story. Without a strong narrative, why not just set fire to a twenty dollar bill?
It's refreshing, then, to hear Reeves acknowledge the fact that The Batman has to be able to exist as a standalone movie which tells a "vital" story, even if it also sows the seeds for a trilogy which may follow later. Logistically, it's also worth considering that Ben Affleck might not want to commit to three films and another six or seven years in the role, although Reeves could combat that by introducing a new #Batman.
If your response to the news of a potential trilogy is "really, again?", Reeves has stated his intent to focus on the detective aspects of the Batman persona (perhaps righting the wrongs of Batman v Superman, in which the world's "greatest detective" took rather too long to establish that the White Portuguese was a ship and not a gangster — in his defense, he was busy with those gruelling workout montages). If The Batman really is a detective noir, it will bring to life a major part of Batman's comic book persona rarely, if ever, explored on the big screen, and so the idea of a more Hitchcockian story in Gotham City feels pretty fresh and exciting.
The Batman isn't expected to start shooting until 2018, so whether we get one movie or three, there's a whole lot of freaking out to do about Justice League and Aquaman before the hype train switches course for Gotham. In the meantime, no blockbuster fan should miss Reeves' own War For The Planet Of The Apes, out July 21.
Does another Batman trilogy excite you, or is it someone else's turn?