Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Batman will fight Superman in 2015 Zzzz!

At the Comic-Con event in San Diego, Zack Snyder announces that the sequel to Man of Steel will, indeed, feature a bust-up with Batman. Big deal.

Sun, Jul 21, 2013, 21:00


Every year, somewhere in San Diego, the film and television industry launches a massive publicity orgy that some several thousand willing drones — more than a few in fancy dress — lap up with quite indecent enthusiasm. The Nerdenburg Rally that goes by the name of Comic-Con once looked like a genuine grass-roots alternative to glossy events such as Cannes and The Oscars. After all, it started life (check the name) as a comics convention. It is still that, of course. But, over the last decade or so, Comic-Con has also evolved into a sort of rolling press conference. Studios arrive to talk up their latest franchises and TV series. Stars sign various bits of the attendees’ bodies. Absolute obedience is maintained.

There are rarely any significant announcements. But, this year, Zack Snyder, director of the fitful Man of Steel, did unleash a titbit that has caused quite a few grown men in capes to faint dead away. Forget that Justice League of America film (for now, anyway). It seems as if Warner Brothers’ follow up to Man of Steel will pit Superman against Batman. “Let’s face it, it’s beyond mythological to have Superman and our new Batman facing off, since they are the greatest superheroes in the world,” Mr Snyder said. Beyond mythological? If you say so, mate.

Well I suppose it beats playing golf on the weekends

Leaving the hyperbole aside, it is worth pondering whether what Snyder suggests is possible. Reports suggest the Man of Steel team is in place: Henry Cavill will play Superman; Amy Adams is Lois Lane; Snyder directs; Christopher Nolan is the executive producer (whatever that means). But there doesn’t seem to be any serious possibility that Christian Bale will return as Batman. Do we then still have “our Batman”? Of course, this has an upside for Warners. They can spend the next six months milking the publicity surrounding the search for a new Dark Knight.

It’s all a bit depressing. For years I resisted the notion that we were overcome with sequels and remakes. That conclusion is, now, unavoidable. And this latest mash-up seems particularly cynical and uninviting. Keep in mind how relentlessly the makers of Man of Steel worked to turn Superman into a version of Nolan’s Batman. They seem even to have rubbed fag-ash in his suit to (quite literally) make him darker. So, still living in The Dark Knight’s wake, we must look forward to earthbound Batman versus intergalactic Batman. Who gives a toss? (Well, millions of people obviously, but please treat the question rhetorically.)

And this thing will be directed by Zack Snyder. What a strange career this very modestly talented man has had. 300 was fun, but very silly. Watchmen was quite staggering in its lack of imagination. (He once told me, as if it were a good thing, that, when in doubt, they just did whatever was in Alan Moore’s comic.) Then came two very different catastrophes: the unsalable┬áLegend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole and the utterly repulsive Sucker Punch. That last film was, do not forget, such a disaster that it kicked up rumours Zack might be fired from Man of Steel. That was all nonsense of course. But the story’s very existence confirmed what a hash he had made of his last few pictures. Now, I suppose, we are obliged to refer to him as a “visionary” director. I prefer my visions not to emerge from committee meetings.

One more thing is worth noting. The hoopla this story has kicked up suggests that we are looking at one of the decade’s very biggest film. If Batman Vs Superman does pull off that sort of result then it will do so against fierce competition. A few months ago, I wrote a piece on the logjam of potentially enormous pictures coming our way in 2015.┬áStar Wars VII, Finding Nemo 2, Avatar 2 and Avengers 2 are all currently due to be released that year. (In this company, Pirates of the Caribbean V hardly seems worth mentioning.) Warners currently plan to unleash the Dark Knight’s punch-up with the Man of Steel the same summer. As I said in the article, if 2015 isn’t the biggest year ever by far for world cinema than the medium is deader than a dead thing.

Oh why must we talk about money all the time?