We're exactly three months away from the release of The Dark Knight Rises, which is perhaps the most anticipated blockbuster of the summer, so I guess it's time to start looking past that movie and to the future of the Batman franchise. This latest installment, the third in a bound trilogy, will be the final episode for director Christopher Nolan and his cast, and anything following it will be another reboot. Since Tim Burton kicked off a new cinematic era for the superhero with 1989's Batman, we've been treated to three directorial takes on the comic book character over the course of seven live-action feaures. Who'll give us the fourth vision?
It's not too early to imagine the posibilities. Given that The Dark Knight pulled in a billion dollars worldwide and this year's sequel is expected to do similar box office, we can presume that Warner Bros. won't want to wait too long for another tentpole starring the Caped Crusader. The studio definitely won't want to wait eight years like they did last time, between 1997's Batman and Robin and Nolan's Batman Begins. Maybe more like the three-year gap between Burton's departure following Batman Returns and Joel Schumacher's campy reinvention with 1995's Batman Forever.
This week, Forbes contributor Mark Hughes got the ball rolling with ten names "most likely on the list" of contenders for the job. Included are fresh auteurs like Duncan Jones, Neil Blomkamp and Nicolas Winding Refn as well as guys familiar with franchise work, like David Yates, Ruper Wyatt and Guy Ritchie, and superhero movies, such as Matthew Vaughn, Zack Snyder and (in front of the screen) Ben Affleck. Also Hughes mentions Darren Aronofsky, who will never be chosen on account of he gave Warners the runaround a while back. He also said at one point he never intended on doing Batman and that he's not really "a superhero type of guy."
I wonder if anyone at all would appreciate a cyclical return to a more playful tone as long as it's done right, without nipples on the costumes or ridiculous marquee-boosting stunt casting for the villains. Think directors like Phil Lord and Chris Miller or Gore Verbinski or, umm, today's Tim Burton. He could even bring Michael Keaton back, like he's doing with the Beetlejuice sequel. Between him and Ridley Scott, we're experiencing a trend of original directors returning to franchises.
I put the question out to Twitter and got a handful of varied responses, quoted below. Tell us your own suggestions in the comments section.
Michael Bay. #justkidding ;) - @rosstmiller
No one should, I think, but if someone had to, how about Kathryn Bigelow? She's got the chops. - @mousterpiece
Takashii Mike would make for a super-intriguing choice to helm Batman! - @ILikeSharkJumps
Brad Bird! I thought he did a bang-up job with MI:4. - @jbdcampbell
This is probably cliched answer but David Fincher. Though he doesn't strike me as a franchise director. - @dashielldavies
Del Toro. - @Count3D