Is Joseph Gordon-Levitt Playing Batman In Justice League A Good Idea?

By Katey Rich and Sean O'Connell 2012-11-27 07:38:08discussion comments
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We've been scraping for even the slightest details about Warner Bros.' planned Justice League movie for months now, with nothing to go on but a 2015 release date and a screenwriter hired to write it. Would Christopher Nolan's Batman films tie into it? Will Zack Snyder's Man of Steel? Will it actually make that release date? Nobody's talking.

But the rumor to hit the web late last night was, finally, a doozy. Would Joseph Gordon-Levitt be appearing in the film as the new Batman? It's just a rumor for now, but a completely fascinating one, and one that opens up all kinds of strange possibilities for the story a Justice League movie would tell. The biggest hurdle, of course, is that Gordon-Levitt isn't Bruce Wayne, and would be a tie-in to Nolan's universe in which, of course, Christian Bale is Bruce Wayne. Would a Justice League really do away with Bruce Wayne entirely and stick with a character Nolan invented for his third Batman film?

Sean and Katey were intrigued by the possibilities, so they got together this morning to hash it all out. Join us in our Great Debate and vote on what you think in the poll at the bottom.

KATEY: Now that we've gotten to sleep on the news that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is rumored to be playing Batman in the Justice League movie, do you have any new thoughts?

SEAN: Sure. I'm kind of surprised by the backlash. But the more I think about it, the more I think the commenters might be right, and doing JLA without Bruce Wayne is kind of a mistake.

KATEY: Do you base that on knowledge of the JLA or just the logical "wait, Bruce Wayne has to be involved with Batman!" problem.

SEAN: Uh, more the latter and less the former. I was always aMarvel kid, and know very little about DC. But the way I view it, if they tried to do The Avengers with James "Rhodey" Rhodes in the Iron Man suit instead of Tony Stark, I'd be furious. And I think this is a comparable example for D.C. Comics fans.

KATEY: It is a bizarre way to go about it... and requires the explanation for anyone who didn't see The Dark Knight Rises and automatically assumes Bruce Wayne = Batman.

It makes me wonder if maybe they'll minimize the role of Batman in JLA and focus on Superman-- who we'll have just seen in Man of Steel-- and the other characters.

SEAN: Again, huge mistake. Batman and Superman are the focal point of the Justice League. They are the biggest heroes in the D.C. stable. To continue the Avengers comparison (because it works), you simply can not make Batman a Hawkeye or Black Widow-level contributor. The "Big Three" of the JLA has to be Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman ... who, by the way, has yet to be introduced.

I think it's OK for Warner Bros. to assume that whomever comes to the JLA movie has seen Nolan's last Batman movie. So they won't be totally shocked to see Gordon-Levitt in the role. But the true fans, the die hards who are going to support a Justice League movie and propel it to Avengers-level success, want to see the interplay between the Blue Boy Scout of Clark Kent and the bend-the-rules vigilantism that Bruce Wayne brings to the D.C. universe.

KATEY: And you don't think John Blake would have the same attitude? It's a weird match even physically-- Henry Cavill is this towering beast, and JGL is so slight, though I guess Christian Bale was also a little less built.

SEAN: It's not necessarily an attitude problem so much as it's just honoring the group's roots. Batman and Superman have had a long-standing "rivalry" that has been explored in so many D.C. books. Because Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent were both orphans, they approached massive problems from different angles, and the lengths that they would go to solve major issues often put them at odds. The foundation of the Justice League rests on the relationship between Batman and Superman, but not just the costumes ... the men wearing those costumes. It's part of that reason why I'd balk at not having Stark in the Iron Man suit. It's not enough just to have Iron Man in an Avengers movie. You need Stark, and the important dynamic he'd bring to a team. For that reason, you can't just have Batman. You really do need Bruce Wayne, and the dynamic that he brings to a potential JLA unit.

KATEY: I'm way less attached to any kind of existing dynamic between Batman and Superman than you are-- give me interesting characters and I'll go along with it, no matter what the back story is from years of comics that I haven't read. But I don't necessarily believe a studio will make that gamble. JLA is going to be a huge movie, and it does seem really risky not to have a Batman with the familiar Bruce Wayne back story. It's a big leap that could have huge repercussions down the line if they're planning an Avengers-style multi-film saga.

SEAN: To your first point, you are the audience Warner is banking on. And that's not intended as an insult. The studio, if they in fact are trying to get JGL in the end of Man of Steel, is just banking on a crowd saying, "Oh, holy shit! It's Batman and Superman ... on the same screen!!" And that is very cool. Seeing that would get my geek pulse racing. It would only be after that the comic reader in me would be like, "Yeah, but wait "

There's a huge audience out there who, as you say, won't be as invested in the dynamic behind the team. They'll just want to see these heroes on screen, fighting together. But making moves like this sort of ensures that a JLA movie will alienate (or, at the very least) upset the dedicated fans. And that's not how Marvel managed The Avengers.
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