Bat-News

There was a small flurry of Batman-related news over the past month or so, so I thought I’d make a few comments….

“Gotham”

We have a new Ra’s al Ghul to look forward to, this time in “Gotham”. As you’ll remember, in the Nolan/Bale film trilogy, the character was played by Ken Watanabe and then Liam Neeson. More recently, Matt Nable played the quasi-immortal master assassin in several episodes of “Arrow”. While I respect the talent of all three actors, I felt those versions were… unsatisfactory. Part of it is the writers’ fault, of course, but none of them quite captured the essence of the character for me.

Siddig in GoT

The latest interpretation of the Demon’s Head will be portrayed by Alexander Siddig (5’11.75″,b.1965), most well-known for his role as Dr. Julian Bashir on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”. (Siddig has, of course, been in many other genre productions, including Kingdom of Heaven, “24”, “Primeval”, “Game of Thrones”, etc.) This is an intriguing choice. He (a Sudanese native) is much closer in ethnicity to Ra’s al Ghul (an Egyptian) than any of the previous actors, and he has played villainous characters before. On the other hand, I’m not sure he has the proper bearing (if that’s the right term) to portray this character correctly. While projecting a certain nobility/regalness, Ra’s is also a very physical person — martial artist / swordsman and often seen bare-chested. So, if they are planning on him displaying much physicality, Siddig had better be physically fit and properly trained.

We shall see. I just hope that they get the other visual aspects right this time, too — from the sometimes Wolverine-like hair & whiskers to his distinctive style of clothes (i.e., sort of a mix of Dr. Jekyll, Doctor Strange, and Doctor Doom).

The Batman

Among the latest news about the solo The Batman movie is that Ben Affleck may be trying to bail (no pun intended) on the role, apparently due to frustrations with Batman vs. Superman‘s reviews, development hassles, and pain-in-the-butt fans. As per Johnny Brayson at Outer Places,

“[S]ources claim that Affleck and Warner Bros. are currently in talks that would see him exit the role, and though he reportedly would like to leave before The Batman, the studio is apparently trying to convince him to stay on for the standalone movie before he takes his leave.”

Assuming any of this is true, you have to wonder if it’s a play for more money.

I know that some people are still very anti-Batfleck and would love to see him leave the franchise. I was skeptical but actually appreciated his performance in BvS and would like him to stay awhile. He is already in Justice League this November, and I would prefer to see continuity with him in The Batman (2018?) and the Justice League sequel (2019). After that, though, I would like to see a reboot with a younger Bruce/Batman. (I’m putting some story ideas together, which I will post in a few weeks/months.)

The other news on this front is that Affleck abdicated the director’s chair and a replacement has been named: Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Planet of the Apes franchise).

Nightwing

Among the better fan-made film shorts and web-series about superheroes is “Nightwing: The Series” (2014, 5 episodes). I only caught one or two episodes, but I thought they were pretty decent and had good fight choreography. There is also a new “The Nightwing” mini-series being filmed by another group this year. Fans of the Nightwing character who have been holding out hope for a feature film, though, may finally be getting their wish.

Just a couple weeks ago, Warner Brothers announced that they are now planning a live-action Nightwing film! It will be directed by Chris McKay (The Lego Batman Movie, “Robot Chicken”), with screenplay by Bill Dubuque (The Accountant, The Judge). Since this is just barely getting underway, little is known. An adult Dick Grayson / Nightwing would fit with Affleck’s 40-something Bruce Wayne / Batman, but we don’t yet know if there will be an effort to connect the two.

We do know, however, that McKay’s take on the character will probably be a bit lighter, less gritty than Batman, especially the Batfleck version. As he said in a recent podcast,

“Dick Grayson didn’t come from [privilege]. Dick Grayson came from a circus family. Essentially people who aren’t rich and they are self-made. They’re entertainers. They’re gymnasts. They’re people who live hand-to-mouth and that’s something that informs him and his attitude.

He’s a fascinating guy to me, because he had all the same things happen to him [as Bruce had]…. [Y]et he remains still a brutal fighter but he’s not a playboy, he loves people dearly. Those things are why I like Dick Grayson, why I like the idea of Nightwing as a movie.”

That sounds good to me and in line with the way Grayson is usually portrayed in the comics.

Ideally, I would like to see the evolution of Dick Grayson from young, newbie-hero Robin to independent Nightwing over several years. (This would be part of those ideas I’m developing.) But, if the powers-that-be are already planning a solo film, I have a feeling that I won’t get my wish. There just isn’t time to develop the character. I’m guessing it won’t be out until 2020 or later, but whether tied to Batfleck or independent, we may not know for a while. Wherever in the current DCEU timeline it takes place, I just hope (as usual) that the writers/producers respect and draw directly from the source material. Please, comic gods, let it be a faithful and fun ride!

5 Movie Sequels / Crossovers I’d Like to See

When I originally conceived of this post and started jotting down ideas about a year ago, none of these were in production — or, at least, not publicly known. Now, two of them are about to be released, and another is being considered. As they say, great minds think alike!

10_Cloverfield_LaneCloverfield 2: I thought 2008’s Cloverfield, by writer Drew Goddard and director Matt Reeves, was an enjoyable twist on the monster movie genre. From the shaky camera work — subsequently (over)used by others — to the fact that the monster isn’t fully revealed until near the end (because it is from the POV of a small group of residents), along with the “found footage” aspect, the innovative perspective was… interesting. I was kind of hoping for a sequel but unsure of what that would look like. Same “attack” but with a different group? Another attack years later? NYC or elsewhere? How to make it not just a repeat, especially since audiences have already seen the monster? Anyway, as you probably know, the recently announced 10 Cloverfield Lane appears to be that sequel, and it is scheduled for release in a month! (Producer J.J. Abrams “announced” it with a trailer during last month’s 13 Hours and a second trailer during the just-ended SuperBowl 50.) It looks exciting and adds a creepy twist to it, so it could be just what I was looking for. Let’s just say, I’m hopeful.

Independence Day 2: The original Independence Day (1996) was an awesome alien-invasion flick, and a blockbuster in both cinema and video sales. So, I could never figure out why the powers-that-be didn’t make a sequel. It seemed like a natural candidate, after all. I even had a spark of an idea for it, taking place in the months that followed, showing the aftermath, scientists analyzing the alien technology and adapting it to help get humanity back on its feet, all the while dealing with hundreds of aliens who survived, escaped, and are determined to wreak havoc. Something like that, anyway. Last year, we found out that producer Roland Emmerich was finally putting a sequel together, Independence Day: Resurgence, and he had assembled several of the original cast to return! (Unfortunately, no Will Smith, though.) Part of the official synopsis says,

“Using recovered alien technology, the nations of Earth have collaborated on an immense defense program to protect the planet. But nothing can prepare us for the aliens’ advanced and unprecedented force.”

Sounds good! I was even kinda-sorta-partially right about that whole using-alien-tech thing.

Unbreakable 2: Unbreakable (2000) was another one of those surprising hits, as M. Night Shyamalan gave us his take on a “realistic” superhero/villain movie. Of course, it owes much of its success to the terrific performances by Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson. Everybody wanted a re-match between reluctant hero David Dunn and criminal mastermind Elijah Price (aka Mr. Glass). Or, maybe Dunn could find himself facing another superpowered villain or two? But, at the same time, maybe Unbreakable is one of those movies that should just be left to stand alone. Last May (2015), Shyamalan revealed that he had some ideas for a “sequel”, but he wanted to use multiple media formats.

““Could you do a six-episode Unbreakable series on Netflix or HBO? Yeah! That’s cool. I even had an idea of doing a story that goes in one form, and a second part that’s in another form, and a third one’s in a different form. You never do the same form,” Shyamalan told IGN. “It would be like, movie, then, let’s say, cable, to TV, whatever, and then a play; it goes straight online, and it finishes like that. It’s in four different forms, and it never goes back to the old one. It could be kind of cool.”

I understand his enthusiasm, but I don’t like the idea of having one “chapter” as a play. Most of us don’t/won’t go to plays. (Hear that, J.K. Rowling?) Anyway, subsequent reports had the writer/director saying he was ready to consider a sequel just in film form, as long as he can come up with an un-traditional sequel, a “completely original take… unexpected.” He also said he has an idea “percolating” that “doesn’t feel at all like a sequel of any kind. It’s just a whole new movie.” Jackson has indicated he would be interested in a sequel, too. Count me in!

Commando movie posterCommando 2: Commando (1985) is of my favorite Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. Full of R-rated violence and humorous (and often corny) one-liners, it was the epitome of 1980s action flicks! SPOILER! SPOILER! SPOILER! I just think it’s high time we saw retired elite Black Ops Commando John Matrix (Ahnuld) shooting, slicing, and blowing stuff up again. Bring Alyssa Milano back as his daughter Jenny, either as a damsel-in-distress or maybe to do some butt-kicking of her own. Heck, could even have Rae Dawn Chong come back, too. I don’t care. Just make it happen!

Rambo vs. Predator: Speaking of 1980s action… This one would obviously be not only a double-sequel but an unusual crossover of franchises. Certainly less obvious, and hopefully more successful, than the Aliens vs. Predator crossovers were. I first thought of this several years ago and came up with a basic premise, as laid out here…

Opening scene has Rambo working as either a wilderness guide or teaching survivalist training on a large nature preserve (e.g., Montana? Colorado?). A small group (4-6) of Predators observes him and decides he is worthy prey. When he is alone one evening, they capture him and string him up on the edge of a clearing, where they landed their ship. But, rather than slaughter him right away, the bored hunters decide to play with their prey, while giving themselves a little bit of a challenge. They then cut him down, strip him naked, and, using recorded sound-bytes, one tells him, “No ship… no gun…” (as they lay aside their shoulder-mounted weapons) “20 minutes… we hunt… trophy” (and points directly at Rambo). The message is clear: these creatures are giving him a 20 minute head-start before hunting him down! Nice of them to even the odds a little by not using their ship or their shoulder-cannons, but he had seen enough to know they had plenty of other weapons — like those nasty gauntlet blades! — and armor-tech. He takes off running at full speed!

After a few minutes, Rambo comes to a stream, heads up it a ways, circles back around, then proceeds to use natural cover from which to watch the Predators (who are too cocky, at least at first, to use their invisibility cloaks). This may be one of the toughest, not to mention oddest, situations he has been in. But, his instincts kick in and he begins to formulate a plan. After all, this isn’t the first time he has been hunted. Plus, he has “home-court advantage”, having hiked over every inch of the preserve several times in the last 8 years. He also has weapons at his cabin and a few caches of supplies scattered over the preserve that will come in handy.

Meanwhile, after 20 minutes most of the Predators set off at a jog in the direction Rambo ran, where they will soon split up to hunt on their own. It’s a contest, after all. However, the one who “spoke” (first among equals?) heads off in a different direction to climb the largest nearby hill. He changes positions a few times during the hours that follow but manages to keep track of Rambo (sometimes) and his fellow Predators. He watches appreciatively as Rambo first evades, then stalks & picks off the others one by one. This is truly a worthy prey….

With the right production team and Stallone heavily involved, I think this could be a great tribute to both franchises and an awesome action flick in its own right!

There ya go. Do you have any sequels that haven’t been announced but you are dying to see? Let me know below…