Across the Universe: Holy rumor alert!
Has 'Justice League' found its Batman?
By Don Kaye
Special to MSN Movies
Four months after it arrived in theaters (and just a week before it debuts on Blu-ray and DVD), rumors and speculation continue to swirl around Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight Rises," mainly over whether Nolan's third Bat-film was really the end of the story or whether the studio, Warner Bros., would try to use the movie's closing images as a jumping-off point for a new series of Batman adventures.
Bing: More on 'The Dark Knight Rises' | More on 'Justice League'
Well, now it seems as if some of the theorizing may actually be coming true. Lots of websites print Batman rumors because they know it will get hits, but when Drew McWeeny at Hitfix -- who's been at this game for a long time -- goes with a story, you sit up and take it seriously even if it doesn't always pan out.
This is the point where we stop and say you should proceed no further if you have yet to see "The Dark Knight Rises," or don't want to know anything about Warner Bros.' future plans for its DC Comics universe on film. You've been warned...
OK, here's what's happening: Sources have told Hitfix that there is a deal on the table for Joseph Gordon-Levitt to "absolutely" play Batman in the upcoming "Justice League" movie, due out in 2015. As you may recall, the end of "TDKR" found Levitt's character, the Gotham cop Robin "John" Blake, finding his way to the Batcave via instructions left behind by a retired Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), with the implication that Blake would put on the cowl and cape and pick up where Wayne left off.
It was a great way to end the story and Nolan's trilogy, and both he and Gordon-Levitt were adamant at the time of the film's release that their involvement ended there. But Warner Bros. knows how beloved (and massive) the "Dark Knight" films are, and surely the thinking is that it would be terrific marketing-wise if the Nolan trilogy was somehow linked to the launch of "Justice League."
But wait, there's more. The same sources have suggested that Gordon-Levitt's Blake/Batman might show up before "Justice League" via a cameo in next summer's Nolan-produced Superman reboot, "Man of Steel."
Principal photography has been completed on "Man of Steel," which arrives in June, but that doesn't preclude Warner Bros. and director Zack Snyder from shooting an additional scene in which Superman meets the Bat, paving the way for their eventual team-up in the "Justice League" movie (which will also feature the Flash, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and others to be named later).
In fact, shortly before the Gordon-Levitt story broke, Snyder hinted in a new interview that "Man of Steel" would have some sort of connection to "Justice League," after maintaining for months that it wouldn't -- even though it's been all but certain that "Man of Steel" star Henry Cavill would reprise the role of Krypton's surviving son in the former film. Snyder told the New York Post that his "Man of Steel" would keep things "on course" for the eventual arrival of "Justice League" and that anything else he said would be a "big spoiler."
The goal, clearly, is to emulate the success and format of the Marvel cinematic universe, in which each movie, starting with "Iron Man," introduced key characters or elements from the next film in brief, after-the-credits scenes. By having Batman show up at the end of "Man of Steel" and saying, "Hey, some of us are putting together a superhero team and we could use an alien in a red cape with godlike powers," it would instantly tell the audience they need to start prepping for "Justice League."
We're of two minds on this one. On one hand, we might just enjoy watching Blake, who was played so excellently by Gordon-Levitt, officially assume the mantle of the Bat and learn how to use it even as he is thrust into the cosmic implications of the Justice League.
On the other hand, Robin Blake is not Bruce Wayne, and a large part of the dynamic of "Justice League" has always been Wayne's relationship with Superman/Clark Kent, not to mention the other heroes on the team. Most people have assumed that the studio would recast Wayne (since Bale wouldn't be returning) and that the "Justice League" version of Batman would be separate from the one in the Nolan movies, especially since the Nolan movies were known for their "realistic" take, and with "Justice League" you're talking about aliens and other planets.
Any way you slice it, "Justice League" and "Man of Steel" are huge priorities for Warner Bros. it attempts to replicate the successful Marvel strategy and properly get the world of DC Comics on the screen at last. If that plan involves connecting the dots to the "Dark Knight" films as well as giving us a Batman who is not Bruce Wayne, then so be it. How would you feel about seeing Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Batman in the new "Justice League"?
(UPDATE: Reps for Joseph Gordon-Levitt denied that the rumors were true to Hollywood.com on Tuesday, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything -- people lie in this business all the time. Remember when Marion Cotillard was adamant that she was not playing Talia al Ghul? At press time, JGL himself has been silent on the matter.)