When Man of Steel hits theaters on June 14, it won’t just mark the arrival of a new Superman — it will also lay the groundwork for the future slate of films based on DC Comics.
Jeff Robinov, president of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, spoke to EW for this week’s cover story on the Zack Snyder-directed, Christopher Nolan-produced movie, and allowed a peek over the wall of secrecy surrounding their DC Comics plans: “It’s setting the tone for what the movies are going to be like going forward. In that, it’s definitely a first step.”
Will Man of Steel include references to other DC heroes headed to the big screen, as Marvel did with its pre-Avengers series of flicks?
“I think you’ll see that, going forward, anything can live in this world,” he said. “[Nolan’s] Batman was deliberately and smartly positioned as a stand-alone. The world they lived in was very isolated without any knowledge of any other superheroes. What Zack and Chris have done with this film is allow you to really introduce other characters into the same world.”
We may not have to wait very long for more news. “We’ll announce something in the next several weeks that will hopefully position the DC characters and the movies we’re going to be making,” Robinov said.
So count on Man of Steel to at least hint at other potential heroes. But it may not overtly introduce other characters. In Batman Begins, we didn’t see the Joker, but we saw one of his calling cards. Expect something like that in the Superman movie.
David S. Goyer, who co-wrote The Dark Knight films and the screenplay for Man of Steel says this crew doesn’t like “sequel bait.” “One of the things we dealt with on the Batman films is, Chris dislikes it when you plan something, when you say, ‘I’m going to follow this up in the next film,” Goyer tells EW. “He’s always said put everything you have into this film and then worry about the next film later. That gives the film its own integrity as opposed to being part of an overall plan. So of course the comic book fans, it’s hard not to think about [crossovers] but I, having done three Batman films and worked in that way, it’s definitely the approach we took with Man of Steel.”
When asked if The Dark Knight trilogy of films stands entirely alone, Robinov said: “They do. Or they did,” with a change of tense that should rouse the attention of fanboys everywhere. “Where we go in the future is a whole other conversation.”
However, Robinov was unequivocal when asked if the rumor is true that Nolan will produce a Justice League movie, and bring Christian Bale back with him: “No, no it’s not.” (Nolan’s reps, who have previously declined to comment on that rumor, also confirmed Robinov’s statement and told EW that he definitely wasn’t involved with Justice League. Nolan is currently busy prepping his sci-fi film Interstellar.)
Robinov’s remarks do give fans some compelling clues to parse. So here’s where we veer from facts into speculation:
When Robinov said “They do. Or they did,” I at first took that to mean he was leaving the possibility open to retroactively link-up those three most recent Batman films with upcoming DC-based films. But as I listen to the conversation again, I suspect what he actually meant was that upcoming Batman films wouldn’t necessarily exist in their own closed-off world the way the previous ones did.
But — again — that’s analysis and a little guesswork. Anything is possible. But some things are less likely.
I doubt Nolan’s Dark Knight series will be joined up with the new Superman or Justice League films because Nolan created a story that had a fully realized arc and a definite ending. Reintroducing Bale’s Bruce Wayne in a superhero team-up movie would necessitate answering questions the filmmaker deliberately left open-ended at the conclusion of The Dark Knight Rises.
Might we get, you know … another person in the bat suit? (Sorry to be vague, but we’re avoiding spoilers for the sake of ultra-latecomers). That’s certainly possible — and much more likely if the studio does decide to backtrack and create crossover between the films. But with the ill-conceived Superman Returns in 2006, the Warner Bros. got a taste of what happens when you try to continue the tone of an earlier, beloved series with a different star and filmmaker. Better just to start fresh.
My prediction is that the studio will simply reboot Batman, creating another lucrative series that happens to be connected to Man of Steel and the other movies, while The Dark Knight trilogy will continue to stand alone in its own self-contained universe, forever preserving Nolan’s interpretation while clearing the way for a new one to come along.
We’ll find out sooner or later, but the thing that seems definite is this: Man of Steel will kick down the door for other DC heroes.
So who would you like to see come through that door next?
Personally, I’d like to see them get Wonder Woman right. She’s long overdue.