I was inspired to write this after a friend of mine, wrote on my Facebook wall, “Why are they doing another Batman movie?” This was a response to an article for IndiaTime, “Double Bonanza! Johnny Depp Reportedly In Talks To Play Joker In Robert Pattinson's Batman.”
The photo has nothing to do with Batman, I love Nightwing and this is done by one of my favorite artist, Phil Jimenez
The upcoming Batman movie perfectly illustrates why I feel Hollywood is stuck on securing the bag and playing it safe, rather than taking risks and bringing in some new people to the theaters. I’m not opposed to movie updates. Colin Farrell and Zoe Kravitz as the Penguin and Catwoman, respectfully, are intriguing, but do we need to go back in time to Batman’s younger years? I would argue that it has been done before in other mediums.
We’ve seen Bruce Wayne go from an orphan to the Cape Crusader in Comics, on TV, and the big screen. Let’s add some depth to him, by focusing on some of the other people in his family and, build a new franchise by leveraging the Bat and focusing on some of the other more diverse characters he has mentored in the past. I’m still waiting on a live-action Nightwing movie (long overdue) but think of the other characters in his family that would make compelling movies.
Former Batgirl, Cassandra Cain (Orphan), is one. She was never taught how to speak so that she could be the perfect fighter and killer by reading body language. Imagine a big-screen adaptation of her origin story leading to her meeting her mother, Lady Shiva. Thereby giving American audiences a chance to see two actresses from Asian descent opposite each other on the big screen.
A movie centering on Damian, Bruce Wayne’s biological son could be tricky if only because it may be difficult to find the right child actor who can carry a film like this, but imagine if you do. We would follow a hero with middle-eastern heritage on a quest to find the balance between good and evil and, choose his father’s way of life or his mother’s. A writer like Riz Ahmed could subtly throw in undercurrents of having to choose between assimilating into a western society or holding to their eastern one. The marketing for Warner Brothers would write itself and most of it would be free considering the media would be all over it.
I would pass on a Batwing movie if it ended up just being Lucius Fox’s son, but if Batwing was David Zavimbe from Africa, I would check it out. For those not familiar with his backstory, David grew up in Africa and while, his backstory does tend to follow the tragic stories that we see come out of Africa (parents died for HIV/AIDS, he and his brother ended up becoming child soldiers, etc). The statement made by an African actor making his mark as an African hero with a lineage to Batman would be huge? I haven’t even touched on The Signal or Onyx (both could stir up some controversy), but still, African-American heroes with ties to the Batman and that isn’t to say that their origin stories couldn’t be tweaked while still leaving the motivations behind the characters intact.
My point is this; there is nothing wrong with Hollywood securing the bag, but the world is more diverse and the old way of making movies is the way that served the 20th century. Also, wouldn’t the bag be larger if studios could grow their revenue in countries where that demographic is the majority? What would buzz and interest, David Zavimbe could have on the continent of Africa? What type of numbers could a Cassandria Cain movie do in countries with Asian or Pacific Islanders? What goodwill could we begin to produce towards citizens from the middle east by honoring Damian’s heritage? What bridges could we build if we can show that African-Americans can be their beings but still be tied to someone noble (more or less) and an all-around badass? Then, if popular, you can do what you do best; make sequels upon sequels using these characters rather than going back to the well and drawing more water out.
I understand what Robert Pattison brings to the table as Batman and, if rumors are true and Johnny Depp will become the joker, I can’t wait to rate his performance along the Nicholson, Ledger, Leto, and Phoenix joker scale. However, here is my challenge to Hollywood when movies begin to get green-lit again; think outside the box and expand your revenue, rather than trying to go with the tried and true, only to be disappointed because audiences can see that you aren’t offering much in the way of new stories.
Do you accept the challenge?