The comic world may be excited about the news that the DC Universe is going to be relaunched and rebooted in September, but there's another future reboot that's on my mind right now: Who takes over the Batman movie franchise after Chris Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises? Here are five options for the powers that be to consider.
Whoever makes the Batman film following Nolan's currently-shooting final installment - because, let's face it: There's no way there won't be one - will have a hard road ahead of them. The Dark Knight was so successful, and Rises likely to be equally so, that there'll be an incredible amount of expectation no matter whether they decide to break with Nolan's aesthetic, or try and continue what he'd started. So who could face up to the wave of fanboy and industry scrutiny and still come up with something good on the other side?
I'll be the first to admit that I thought that Aronofsky's plans for The Wolverine - his dark sequel-that-wasn't-a-sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine - sounded ludicrous and completely unrealistic, but that was more because I couldn't have imagined Fox letting him take their most successful superhero franchise down the arthouse route. But Warners and Batman? I could easily see that, especially given the success Nolan has had with his direction for the franchise. How over the top and melodramatically gloomy could Aronofsky take the Dark Knight? It might depend how much Warners want to be able to say "From the director of Black Swan" in the promo material...
He's shown that he can mix critical acclaim with box office success with movies like Fight Club and The Social Network, he's got SFX experience as well as demonstrated that he can handle big name stars with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Zodiac. Hell, he's even shown himself eager to work with genre material (The rumored 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea remake he's attached to) and populist fiction (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo). Unless this man is allergic to Gotham City, there's no reason why he shouldn't be approached to step into Nolan's shoes.
Okay, I'll admit it: Mills doesn't necessarily have the background that suggests that he'd be the first choice to take over one of the most high-profile movie franchises around, what with only two movies under his belt (Thumbsucker and Beginners, both of which are firmly on the understated side of things), but between his music video and graphic design work, I'm quietly convinced that he'd turn out a fascinating movie that might not necessarily have "blockbuster" written all the way through it, but might nonetheless turn out to be the most visually interesting of the entire series to date, including the Burton years.
Nicolas Winding Refn
Another one from the "Wait, who?" column, perhaps, but Refn - probably best known in the US for his 2008 crime biopic Bronson (starring Tom Hardy, now a favorite of Christopher Nolan, and The Dark Knight Rises' Bane - Look, it all comes together!) is already moving into the American genre market with this year's Drive and a rumored remake of Logan's Run in the works. With a control of tension and theatrics that match Nolan's, crime chops earned from movies like the Pusher trilogy and a bunch of critical acclaim (Drive was nominated for the Palm D'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival, and won Refn the Best Director award), Refn might just be the next Christopher Nolan, even without the Batman connection. Still, it wouldn't hurt to check if he likes men who fight crime while dressed like giant rodents...
I know, I know: You think I'm joking. And I almost was, until I realized that Snyder would actually make a weirdly smart choice for Warners - He's the helmer of the Superman reboot, and so would maintain visual continuity between the two movies, and would neatly sidestep any Nolan comparisons by... well, pretty much being the Anti-Nolan, albeit one that already has Christopher's seal of approval by dint of the Superman producing gig. Plus, let's face it: It would almost be fun, just to see how many Frank Miller panels he'd try and cram into one movie without looking too ridiculous. It's almost worth giving him the shot for that alone.
But what do you think? Who could take on the Batman franchise and come up with something that stands up to Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, or even the 1966 Batman? Use the comments below to tell all.