Despite the attention on his big screen antics, Batman is alive and well on the comic page. In fact, Batman comics are doing better than they have in a long time. A lot has changed for the DC line-up lately but one thing has remained constant: Batman is doing pretty darn well.
How do DC and Warner Bros translate the creative triumphs of the multiple Batman series into big screen successes? Ben Affleck is currently hard at work on a cinematic version of the Dark Knight and likely has his own ideas he wants to pursue. But if he’s smart, he’ll incorporate some of the accomplishments from the comic page and put them on the movie screen.
Want a few pointers for your Batman movie, Ben? Here’s what you can learn from the current Batman comics.
Batman Needs More Alfred
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice got a lot wrong. A lot. But it did some things right. One thing Zack Snyder’s film nailed was Alfred. Jeremy Irons was great as Batman’s long-suffering butler/partner. And Irons together on screen with Affleck? Fantastic! Those two were wonderful together. Batman needs some push back and gentle teasing from time to time. Plus he can’t get anything done without Alfred’s abilities. A Batman without Alfred is no Batman at all.
Mr. Pennyworth has always been a large part of the Batman comics. In fact, it’s rare that Batman is on a mission without Alfred giving advice in his ear. It adds humanity to Batman. It also allows him to second guess himself, plot his next move and even show some humor. Alfred is a pivotal part of Bruce Wayne and should be a major part of whatever Batman movies come next. Don’t let the Caped Crusader be so lonely.
The Dark Knight Doesn’t Need to be SO Dark
This suggestion has been mentioned, oh I don’t know, a million times but it’s true now more than ever. Batman doesn’t have to be so suffocatingly dark and gritty.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Batman to be brooding and intense. I don’t want Joel Schumacher silliness. At the same time, Christopher Nolan brilliantly showed us a bleak and realistic Batman. There’s no topping that, anyone who tries will just come off like a copycat. So let’s go in a different direction.
That’s what the comics are doing. Scott Snyder’s New 52 Batman series maintained the characteristic darkness while still adding color and energy and just a bit of fantastical elements. It worked superbly and would translate very well to the big screen. There doesn’t need to be cheesiness or, Heaven forbid, Bat nipples. But things should be a little lighter, a little more peculiar and weird. Let’s not forget that this is a series about a grown man dressing as a bat, things don’t have to be weighed down too much by reality.
Things should be literally brighter too. Gotham City is a large, vibrant city full of more than just two colors. Not everything needs to be bathed in browns and grays. Throw in some pinks, blues and yellows. It’ll set the future Batman films apart from its predecessors and also make everything feel a bit more lively and exciting. Take it from the comics. It works.
Make Batman Inspirational
The first few issues of the new Batman line have included two new characters: Gotham and Gotham Girl. They are bright-eyed, optimistic, powerful and trying to keep Gotham City safe. So who inspired these two to become heroes? Batman of course.
That’s something that’s been lost in many Batman films: Batman is one inspirational guy. Or he can be. He is often violent and not kid-friendly but, at the same time, highlights the best in us. He is brave, he believes in justice, he fights for the weak. He’s not as bright and cheerful as Superman, of course, but he can be just as inspiring and heroic. The comic books haven’t lost sight of that and the movies shouldn’t either. Despite all his moral ambiguity, Batman is still a hero and someone to look up to and root for. The current comics are good about reminding readers that Batman is a superhero, it’s about time the movies do the same.
Hire Scott Snyder
Here’s the secret weapon that makes the Batman comics so successful. He’s actually not a secret at all, he’s a bright, shining star. Scott Snyder, the man who has been writing and guiding Batman for the last several years, is a bonafide genius. He knows the characters, the world and the themes of Batman like the back of his hand. He has given readers some of the best arcs in DC history and has forged a new path while keeping the character true to his roots.
In short, Scott Snyder is the major reason Batman in the comics is thriving. It’s high time his talents are noticed by Hollywood. He doesn’t have to write the movies if he doesn’t want to (though we wouldn’t protest!) but he should definitely be some sort of consultant. Let him work his magic on whatever Ben Affleck has cooking. All the other suggestions listed above are things Snyder excels at. He would turn a new page for Batman on film and would make all fans much happier.
It’s an important time for the Batman cinematic universe. It’s time to try new things, set a different course and give fans something fresh and exciting. We don’t know what Ben Affleck, Geoff Johns and the rest of Warner Bros have in mind for Gotham’s protector but we hope they take a look at the current crop of comics for inspiration.