When it was announced at San Diego Comic Con that the sequel to Man of Steel would be a [Batman vs. Superman](movie:711870) team up movie, it began the realization of one of my biggest childhood dreams. As you probably know, it was announced by director Zack Snyder. He stepped on the stage and said that he had an announcement and then called on actor Harry Lennix (General Swanwick in [Man of Steel](movie:15593)) to read the following passage: “I want you to remember, Clark, in all the years to come, in all your private moments. I want you to remember my hand at your throat. I want you to remember, the one man who beat you.”
This is a speech from [Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1](movie:401563), a four-part story from 1986 that was later turned into a graphic novel. Quick summary, the story has to do with a 55 year old Bruce Wayne who has been retired as Batman for many years, but when crime goes up and Bruce gets too bored, he dons the cape and cowl again. By this time, Superman is an agent of the government and the two do not get along. I realize that they have stepped away from the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy, and are going with Ben Affleck and a new Batman, but I think it would have been great for them to stick with the Nolan universe where Batman is concerned and yes, it is possible to do this and still have the amazing trilogy that is The Dark Knight still be in a semi-self contained universe. So this is what I think would make for a great DC shared universe. I’ve read lots of people’s thoughts on this and so I thought I'd share the ones that I agree with and add some of my own.
If you still haven’t seen The Dark Knight Rises….. it’s time. Sit down and watch it. Seriously, it came out in 2012, and Man of Steel was 2013. Just don’t want to ruin it for you if you haven’t seen them.
Let’s take what we have so far in the DC movie universe in the last 10 years, Superman Returns not included.
The Dark Knight Trilogy. An absolutely wonderful trilogy and a superb take on the Caped Crusader. Many people argue that this should be left alone, as it was meant to be a stand-alone franchise. The story came full circle, it is complete. That is fine. But, not many people have just one chapter to their life, Bruce Wayne included. The end of TDKR shows a happy Bruce with Selina Kyle at a café in Italy living happily ever after, just as Alfred had always wanted. Alfred is happy, Bruce is happy, Selina is happy, Lucius is happy, and Robin John Blake has inherited the Batcave. Great! Story over. Trilogy complete. It stands alone. The End….. of that chapter. Let’s fast forward even just 5 years, and bring on The Dark Knight Returns. Bruce is 44 years old. (Only 5, because I think it might be a stretch to have Christian Bale reprise the role and say that it’s been 16 years and he’s 55.) He’s been living the quiet life…. and it’s killing him. He is so unhappy that he has driven Selina away because he can’t handle quiet, because his life has never ever been quiet. Sad. Tragic. True. As he is feeling so distressed and lost, strange things happen in the world, aliens come to Earth and a new figure shows up in the news. One wearing a suit, but no mask. One who says he is fighting for truth and justice. One they are calling Superman. Bruce watched in horror as Metropolis has just been devastated by a massive battle between the alien beings. Devastated in the much the same way that Gotham was almost devastated by the League of Shadows. Twice. Good thing Gotham had the Batman. Good thing that Metropolis had this Superman. No. That’s not quite accurate. Superman had actually been the cause of much of the destruction and loss of life. What kind of hero would allow that? Not to mention what happened to that little town over in Kansas. Of course, Mr. Wayne is not above property damage, but he doesn’t trust Superman. And he may be the only one who can stop him. It is time to head back to Gotham. Time to go back to the cave. Time, to resurrect a hero.
Once there he meets up with Robin John Blake who, with the help of Alfred, has been introduced to Lucius Fox and has taken up the mantle of the vigilante, he is known as Nightwing. (Yes, I know that Nightwing is Dick Grayson, but this will work better than if he actually calls himself Robin) TDKR basically built him up to be Nightwing even though his name is revealed to be Robin. Think about the back story: A young man who fights alongside Batman and is basically his protégé, then ends up fighting crime on his own. So Wayne meets up with Blake, who nearly has a heart attack when he gets back to the Batcave after a night of crime fighting and Wayne is sitting there waiting for him. Gotham has rebuilt after the five months of occupation and destruction caused by Bane. The city has done remarkably well, and average citizens are now standing up to stop everyday crime because of it. Nightwing is there more as a helper and reminder of what the Batman did for the city. Wayne tells Blake of his distrust of Superman and they both head to Metropolis to find this Man of Steel. Blake goes as a balance to Wayne, because he doesn’t see a problem with Superman, after all, he did save the world.
Couple this with the fact that Michael Caine (and I believe Morgan Freeman) have expressed their willingness to return the their respective characters, and this would make it the perfect way to merge the two franchises while simultaneously leaving TDK trilogy as a stand-alone, but being able to use the back story so that they wouldn’t have to re-hash it to add a new Batman to the DC shared cinematic universe.
Another part of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is that it also includes Oliver Queen in a supporting role. Oliver Queen is (or was) Green Arrow in the story. This could allow an easy way to bring in the Stephen Amell Oliver Queen from CW’s Arrow. Oliver had met Bruce Wayne on occasion when his father, by way of Queen Consolidated, had done business with Wayne Enterprises, and has recently become “friends” with Nightwing since they have both been doing the same basic thing for the past few years in their respective cities. Have Joseph Gordon-Levitt guest star in a few season 3 or 4 episodes of Arrow as Nightwing, and it ties them together nicely. Now you have the Green Arrow story already built and readily available to add to the upcoming Justice League line up in 2017. Add to this the newly revealed Flash that we have with Grant Gustin (assuming the series gets picked up) and you’ve got five main JL characters ready to go. Plus, we've got S.T.A.R. Labs already set up in Central City from references in Arrow, so we could have a young Victor Stone show up in The Flash.
Last but not least, Green Lantern. Crucify me if you wish, but I liked the 2011 Green Lantern movie with Ryan Reynolds. Apparently however, it did not live up to the expectations of many, and was considered somewhat of a failure. Okay, fine. So what do you do? There are two schools of thought with this: sequel and reboot. I say sequel. The characters are already in place and you wouldn’t confuse people like a reboot would. So, you just expand and make the sequel better. We already have the teaser at the end of Green Lantern with Sinestro putting on the yellow fear ring. Plus, all of the main actors are contractually obligated for a sequel. So, how to make a better GL movie that more people will like? During the 90’s and early 2000’s the GL that was on the Justice League cartoon was John Stewart. So, bring him in. You could also bring in Guy Gardner to add internal conflict to the story, but it may be too much for one movie. So you have Sinestro with the yellow fear ring going against the Guardians because of his built up animosity towards them. He ends up killing several of his former corps teammates, which sends their green power rings out in search of a new bearer. They find John and Guy. Hal Jordan helps give them a crash course in their new responsibilities; they prepare to join the fight against Sinestro. Meanwhile Sinestro gathers, through his fear rings, those that would be strongest in his new corps, those that are most familiar with fear. Sinestro and his troops fight the GL Corps killing many and greatly weakening the corps as a whole, both physically through fighting, and psychologically because of his defection. In the end Sinestro and his group are defeated; Sinestro being defeated by Hal and John. Most of the fear rings are destroyed, but a few escaped to find new bearers familiar with fear. One ring finds….Bruce Wayne. This is post Superman/Batman movie. Now he is on the same “team” as Superman, but still doesn’t necessarily trust him. He puts on the ring and quickly discovers it’s power. He of all people is aware of how powerful fear can be. He also realizes that this ring could be a great tool against a super-powered being should one ever decide to go rogue. He takes it off, but stores it away. Just in case.
This allows DC to retroactively bring all of their existing franchises together, using what has already been built. They can also easily introduce the other main characters in [Justice League](movie:401267) just as easily. It would be simple to incorporate Martian Manhunter into the GL movie and maybe even [Aquaman](movie:264237) when the fight between GL and Sinestro gets too close to his kingdom, and we know that Wonder Woman will be in [Batman vs. Superman](movie:711870).
This brings us what could possibly happen that would need all of these super-powered beings to work together as a team. Since the GL Corps are greatly weakened, it could allow for some intergalactic baddie to come to Earth. Let’s say Darkseid? More logical though since you have to have escalation in franchises, we should have Sinestro and his fear corps re-group and attack Earth to get revenge on Hal and John, and to find the fear ring that headed to Earth. Thus saving Darkseid for Justice League 2 and maybe then Apokolips for Justice League 3.
I realize that the Batman part has already been planned out, but what do you think of the rest? Let me know in the comments below.