It is no secret that Hollywood is madly in love with the concept of rebooting franchises, but this may be the first time ever that a movie has announced a reboot before the final film in the series (an exceptionally successful series at that) has even begun filming. But according to the LA Times, that may be exactly what is going to happen.
“We have the third Batman, but then we’ll have to reinvent Batman…Chris Nolan and [producing partner and wife] Emma Thomas will be producing it, so it will be a conversation with them about what the next phase is.” Jeff Robinov, President of the Warner Bros. motion picture group told the paper.
It may sound innocuous enough to “reinvent” the character, but there have been rumblings over the last few weeks that execs at Warner Bros. are not happy with The Dark Knight Rises—not because of the product, but because Nolan, who has final cut on the film, has repeatedly told them that he plans a conclusion to what he sees as a trilogy of films. That could mean just about anything, but it could mark the beginning of a trend for movies with massive histories—create a few movies that tell one story, then hand the property over to someone else to tell a completely different tale. Despite a few key points, the character of Batman has been reinvented so many times in comics—as has almost every character with a long history and a following—that it actually isn’t that hard to see them following the comic model and rebooting the character.
It could also free filmmakers up to try something different. It probably would not be well received to kill off Batman, but major characters like Alfred Pennyworth or Jim Gordon might be expendable to the franchise–as long as they are not permanently erased.
Marvel has claimed that the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man is not a reboot, even though the story will be contradictory to Sam Raimi’s films, and minor things, like the inclusion of mechanical webshooters in place of the organic version in the previous films stand in contrast to the previous films. Marvel seems to be thinking along the same lines as Warner Bros., and Amazing Spider-Man may in fact not be a reboot, even if it is a different story from the previous films. It’s a comic book rationale that many may not like, but it would free the studios creatively, and allow each story to have a definitive conclusion that won’t affect the future. In Tim Burton’s Batman, Jack Nicholson’s Joker was killed, which made sense for the story, yet the character is a welcome addition to the Batman mythology. In Spider-Man’s films, Venom, Doc Ock and the Green Goblin are all staples of the character, yet the story has finished them off—unless everything reboots.
Although Nolan has said that he is done directing Batman after The Dark Knight Rises, he will stay on the next Batman as a producer. It may very well be just a title to ease fans and to keep Warner Bros. happy, but he will in some small way remain involved in the franchise.
But that is still more than a year away. Expect to hear more—a lot more about The Dark Knight Rises before its release on July 20, 2012.