Hire Ed Brubaker to write it
Pros: Ed Brubaker is the comic-book creator behind Gotham Central , which is essentially The Wire of Bat-books.
Set entirely within the Gotham City Police Department - with Batman only appearing in cameos - Gotham Central focused on the impact Batman’s vigilantism would really have on the lives and morale of Gotham’s cops.
It approached the mythos with the same level of intense realism as Nolan’s Batman Begins – only it did it two years earlier, launching in February 2003.
Gotham Central also managed to humanise the army of freaks that make up Batman’s rogues gallery, giving it depth that approached Watchmen levels.
It’s an incredible comic – and it achieves the main feat a Batman reboot needs, combining the ultra-realism of Batman Begins & The Dark Knight with the fantastical elements of a Justice League set-up.
And for anyone worried about putting a comic-writer on screenplay duties, there’s one element of Joss Whedon’s success with The Avengers that’s been over-looked slightly.
Joss wasn’t just a TV writer who successfully stepped up to the big screen: he was a comic-book writer who understood the importance of splash panels.
The Avengers is arguably the most representative comic-book movie ever made, in that watching it almost perfectly replicates the experience of reading a comic.
That aspect has nothing to do with Whedon’s telly experience, and everything to do with the work he did on titles like Astonishing X-Men . So maybe it’s time to give other comic-book writers a chance.
Cons: Gotham Central , despite being one of the most well-reviewed books in Batman comic history, didn’t sell very well. The critics loved it, but it didn’t connect with an audience. But then we have a feeling that if it launched now, post-Nolan, it would do slightly better business.
Cast Michael Fassbender as Batman
Pros: You’re a Total Film reader, so you don’t need reminding of how good Fassy is – but it’s still worth putting his general position in Hollywood into context.
Fassy’s 35, which would make him 39 in the four years we reckon it’ll take to put together a worthy follow-up to The Dark Knight Rises . It also happens to make him the perfect age to play Batman.
Few actors of his age-range have the skill-set to play Bruce and Bats with the layered intensity both characters deserve – well, unless you’re prepared to give Orlando Bloom, Colin Hanks or Danny Dyer a go – Tom Hardy’s the only actor who comes close, but we’re pretty sure he’s already involved with the franchise in a slightly different capacity.
Fassbender’s managed to mix blockbuster work with smaller passion projects, a trick the last bloke to pull on the Bat-suit also achieved.
He has leading man looks, but he’s not afraid to indulge in his dark side. He’s perfect basically.
Cons : Let’s ignore that fact that Fassbender may well be off making Bond with Nolan, and the fact he’s so associated with another iconic comic-book character, get him signed up now!
Keep the budget down
Pros: Batman Begins’ budget was around $150 million, which is obviously a lot of money to pop down the shops with, but it’s a bargain for a blockbuster of Begins ’ scale.
For comparison, Battleship had a production budget of $209 million, and John Carter had $250 million to play with. And we’re pretty sure that a The Dark Knight isn’t around the corner for either of them.
For those who think it’s not fair to compare 2005 budgets to 2012 numbers, Peter Jackson’s King Kong cost $207 million, and The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe cost $180 million to make. Hell, even Troy , Alexander and Van Helsing , all released in 2004, cost more than Batman Begins – at $175 million, $155 million, and $160 million apiece.
Of all the films we’ve mentioned, we know which one goes on our Blu-ray player at least once a month, and it doesn’t star Hugh Jackman (sorry Hugh).
But Batman Begins is an odd-film-out in another way – it’s the only movie listed without an enormous special effects budget.
By keeping Batman in the real world, Nolan kept costs down – and that’s something we’d like to see replicated in the Batman reboot.
Obviously a Superman cameo will push the effects budget up slightly, but if it’s an end-credits sequence of the kind we’ve already outlined, it shouldn’t require a bank robbery to cover the cost.
Which is good, as Superman hates bank robberies. It’s literally one of his least favourite things.
Cons: The Dark Knight Rises had $250 million production costs, and Warner Brothers might experience fan pressure to match that level of investment.
Bring back Robin?
Pros: Of all the essential elements of a Batman reboot we’ve listed, this is by far the most contentious.
Comic-book readers hate Robin so much they once paid money to kill him.
And that’s not an exaggeration – in the late-‘80s, DC held a phone vote to decide the fate of Jason Todd’s Robin. Fans dialled one number to save him from death at the hands of Joker, another to condemn him.
A slim majority voted to kill off the character, and true to their word, DC depicted his brutal death.
Robin’s so unpopular that Christian Bale reportedly threatened to quit the Batman films if Nolan introduced the character to his universe – though the veracity of that quote is still in question (it’s never actually been confirmed) it still sums up many fans' feelings on the matter.
But despite the hatred, we’d argue Batman actually needs Robin – not just to help him fight crime, but to make him a more rounded character.
And Batman’s creators were aware of the fact that, without Robin to interact with, Batman as a concept has limitations. That would explain why Batman didn’t make it to a full year of publication before Robin was introduced.
That’s right, Robin has been a near-constant presence in Bat-history. Batman spent 11 months without him, and 73 years with him. And there’s a reason.
We’ve already touched on the fact that Batman’s generally a fairly funny comic-book – that’s because he has Robin to spark off. The comics without the character are generally the darkest of the canon.
Which is by no means a bad thing, but if the Batman reboot does want to change direction the introduction of Robin, though risky, is a proven route to success.
But their relationship is more complicated than straight-man and foil, the best Robins – Dick Grayson, Tim Drake – add consequence, and even substance to their best Bat-books.
Robin is a symbol of optimism and hope - he operates as a reminder to Batman of what he’s fighting for, and of what he’s lost in the process.
If, and it’s a big if, the Batman reboot makes him likeable, he’ll add a completely new dynamic to the universe already established by Nolan.
And we get the feeling even Nolan likes him – watch Batman Begins again; if Game Of Thrones ’ Jack Gleeson isn’t meant as a tribute to Robin, we’ll eat our cape.
There's even a reference to Robin in The Dark Knight Rises; the R held aloft by a crowd-member in the Gotham Rogues scene is an exact replica of the Boy Wonder's branding.
Other publications have written the reference off as a prank by an extra, but are you telling us that a director with as much attention to detail as Nolan didn't notice it? It would have taken a half-decent digital effects team ten minutes to get rid of it, and yet it was so clear in the second trailer that it was included in every single trailer breakdown.
Our guess? The sign was the work of an extra, Nolan saw it, liked it, and left it in.
Still, there's a reason this is the only headline in this feature to come with a question mark - we don't think that Robin deserves automatic inclusion in the Batman reboot, but we do think he'd serve a purpose. But if the creative team can't do him justice, we'd rather he was left out.
Cons: Robin is an insanely difficult character to get right – Batman Forever and Batman & Robin did such a bad job they tarnished the Boy Wonder’s cinematic reputation so completely, it’s hard to imagine how a big screen Robin would be achieved.
But then, after Batman & Robin it was hard to imagine another decent Batman film full-stop, and we all know what happened next.
Hire an incredible director
Pros : So, we want a Batman movie that ditches the origin story, incorporates plotlines from the ‘00s era, features realistic villains who Batman beats using detective skills, his utility belt, and a retooled Batcave, and we want to add a classic supporting character and a few jokes in the process. Oh, and we want a Superman cameo, a role for Robin and as many DC references as we can fit in.
There’s one man that can deliver all of the above in style. Unfortunately, he’s involved in another superhero franchise you might have heard of.
Yep, it’s Joss Whedon.
Joss clearly cares about the character – he pitched his own post- Batman & Robin / pre- Batman Begins take, but was sadly dismissed out of hand by a studio suit.
Buffy proved that Whedon can mix wit, fantastical situations in a realistic world and well-realised supporting characters. And if anyone can set up the Justice League universe, it’s the man behind The Avengers .
But if Joss can’t do it, it’ll be hard to find a director who can mix humour, realism and action so successfully – we’d say Sam Raimi, but we’d worry he’d pitch Adam West as the perfect Batman.
DC might be tempted to mimick the Marvel technique of handing their biggest franchise to a untried director – but we’d rather they went for someone proven.
Peter Jackson would be perfect, but we think he’ll probably move onto more personal projects when he’s done with The Hobbit .
We’d deeply love to see Martin Scorsese’s take on the character – but we’ve probably got more chance of directing it ourselves.
Cons : We imagine Joss Whedon is tied up in a very complicated Marvel contract (though, to be fair, Ryan Reynolds seems able to leap between Marvel and DC characters on a whim - and you'd expect actors' contracts to have even more fine print) so we think his Wayne Manor window of opportunity has probably closed permanently. That leaves a fairly limited pool to choose from.
Whoever takes it on, they have to be high-profile, and they have to be on the top of their game. The character, and Chris Nolan's legacy, deserves no less.