Batman 3 thoughts: new villains, Christopher Nolan’s involvement, and the late Heath Ledger

I guess since watching and reviewing all the Batman films recently, I just couldn’t get bats out of my brain. My thoughts always go to Batman 3. I think there’s a 2012 release date, but nothing else to go on. No definitie story, or actors, just that release date. And I wonder how they’re going to do, especially after the exceptional The Dark Knight. There’s rumours and everything, I’ve heard The Riddler may be in the next one, and even that there’s talks of Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the role. The Riddler seems like a logical next step, and Levitt is a great actor, and could surely pull it off.

But when I hear all these villain names being dropped, whether it’s Catwoman, The Penguin, or The Riddler, I feel a little underwhelmed. If this is going to be a trilogy, I’d like it all to go down on a more exciting note; it should have a finality to it, and shouldn’t start feeling episodic, which is the very feeling I get when I hear all those villains mentioned. Batman Begins was a great movie, and somehow, The Dark Knight topped it. I’d hate to think that The Dark Knight would be the high point in the trilogy and that the third one would be calming the waters. But The Joker is the absolute most popular villain in Batman’s rogues gallery, and seemingly his greatest challenge, so how could they possibly top the second movie?

You know who I’d like to see in part 3? Bane.

Obviously, the Knightfall story comes much later in the Batman mythology, but this could be easily overlooked and forgiven if done right. Nolan’s films never word-for-word, point-for-point followed the comics anyway, but rather just kept their spirit. If they could effectively work in Bane, I’d be one happy Batman fan, especially since the character was done such an injustice in the Schumacher film that dare not speak its name.

In my opinion, the only villain that even comes close to The Joker is Bane. He’s also an equal to Batman. He was born in prison, he spent years training his body and his mind. He’s just as smart and clever as he is incredibly strong. He defeated and humiliated Batman, leaving him crippled. Now there’s an interesting story.

There are other aspects of the Knightfall storyline that could be explored, like Jean-Paul Valley taking on the role of Batman as Bruce Wayne recuperates, and breaks Wayne’s rules by killing. It would make sense thematically, and further test Bruce Wayne in his crusade for Gotham. I’m not saying he should be in a damn wheelchair for the entire movie, but there’s something about Batman’s physical limits being found, and having to sit by powerless as his image is further tarnished that I find compelling. And Valley refusing to step down, and Bruce’s retraining, and their final battle would be very, very cool to see, and perhaps a very appropriate end to it all. Maybe.

I’d like to see other villains such as Catwoman or The Riddler included, too. It just doesn’t have to be Bane and Valley. The only problem, I suppose, would be casting Bane. Who the hell could do that? It’d have to be someone pretty built. I’d say Mickey Rourke would have been a good choice if he didn’t already do Iron Man 2. I don’t think he’d need to be cartoonishly muscly though. I can see the character being more raw and realistic, just like The Joker. Maybe it would be best to cast an unknown, and have the bigger name stars take on the Catwoman and Riddler roles. Then again, maybe…just maybe…Javier Bardem would work.

And no Robin. Who the fuck cares about Robin?

Of course, these are just my thoughts as a fan. Everyone has their own opinion and their own hopes of what to see in the next Batman film. My primary hope, above everything else, is that Christopher Nolan returns to write and direct it. Only he can do it justice at this point. I’ve heard many things about his involvement with Batman 3. I’ve heard he’s not all too anxious to do it anymore. I’ve heard since day one he’s conceptualized it as a trilogy, and that The Joker was very much planned to be a key part in the last film. Heath Ledger is gone from this world and now things are uncertain. But if this truly is Nolan’s last Batman film, and if The Joker truly is a necessary part, maybe they should do the unthinkable and recast the role. I loved Ledger as the character, he brought The Joker to life perfectly, and in new and exciting ways that I never could have possibly imagined, and in my opinion it will go down in history as one of the greatest performances on film, but it can’t possibly begin and end with Ledger. He’s not the first actor to portray him and there’s no way he’ll be the last, regardless of his popularity. Just like Batman and all the other characters in that universe, the character will always be bigger than the actor, and will live on forever.

The only question is, who would want to take on that role? Who would want to fill those incredibly daunting shoes? Some say maybe Joseph Gordon-Levitt could do it, seeing as how he is also a very talented young star and has some similar facial features to Ledger. Maybe Johnny Depp could do it. I know a lot of people have brought up his name as a possibility. Yes, Depp is much older than Ledger, but the makeup could easily hide that. The best thing about Heath Ledger’s incarnation of The Joker is that he seemed to be an indeterminate age, there’s no way you could tell that it was a 28-year-old playing him. Ledger played it far beyond the limits of his youth, displaying ageless talent. Many of Ledger’s closest friends and family members described him as an old soul. In a perfect world, Heath Ledger would still be alive. His career would have reached a point where he could do any project he desired, he would have been on that stage to accept his Academy Award for The Dark Knight, and he would have been ready and willing to play The Joker once again. But this is not a perfect world. It’s depressingly unfair. There are tragedies and heartbreaks beyond all eloquence, and there are voids that can never be filled no matter how much time passes. But we need to accept this, and keep fighting on. If the Batman movies have taught us anything, it’s that.

That’s why Nolan’s involvement for a third film is so crucial. His films are more than just fun comic book adventures. They’re morality plays in the guise of super hero stories. There are values to take out of them. They’re important. Art is important. And Nolan’s films have proven that these illustrated stories featuring a man dressing up as a bat can be seen as legitimate art. Tim Burton’s films were a step in the right direction. Joel Schumacher’s films, though entertaining and appropriate for all ages, were mostly a step back. Either knowingly or unknowingly, Christopher Nolan has sparked a revolution of the genre, and his films have set the standard by which all others will be judged. Maybe some people feel his Batman movies are overrated, and that as a director, Nolan himself is overrated, but I don’t think so. I think he and his films deserve every bit of praise they have received. Not unlike Batman, Nolan has moved forward with unflinching courage and determination in spite of impossible obstacles, and has become a figure we, as fans, can believe in. He faces more obstacles now more than ever. But our faith in Nolan as an artist has been richly rewarded so far, and I’m not alone in believing that all the faith may fade if Nolan steps down from doing the third Batman. Nolan understands the source material and has given us two great films, and even if the most talented of directors become attached it just wouldn’t be the same. After his takes on Batman, how can we accept anything less? How can we go back to anything without him? There’s no going back. He’s changed things. Forever.

Did you hear the one about the girl who threw puppies into the river?

There’s that controversial video out there. The girl in the red hoodie reaches into a bucket full of newborn puppies, and gleefully tosses them into the river. Maybe you’ve seen it. It originated on Youtube but obviously it was pulled for its shocking content. If you search the video on Youtube you won’t find it, but rather you’ll find about a million “reaction” videos. And they’re all basically the same. They all seem to start off the same way, like, “I accidentally clicked on it” or “someone sent me the link and I didn’t know what it was,” which is bullshit. No one seems to want to admit that they enjoy being shocked by such content. And enjoy even more being able to rant in a 5 minute video, describing what they saw, and how it sickened them, and how that girl in the red hoodie is evil and should be brought to the authorities, or in some peoples’ opinions, should be thrown into the river herself. I’ve seen several of these reaction videos and it’s all pretty much the same damn opinion, to one degree or another. It’s amazing how much people can talk and talk without really even saying anything of substance. These same people usually provide their Vlog rant with a thumbnail of the “Twisted Girl” video, in order to trick people like themselves with a sick desire to see the shocking footage to get some hits. These same people provide a link to the original video on Liveleak. These same people probably get up in the morning, throw on their Nike shoes which were made in sweatshops where innocent children are forced into hard labor with little pay, then drive their cars which contribute to the death of the environment, then hit up the McDonald’s drive-thru for some McNuggets, which probably only contain about 75% real dead animal anyway, but at least chickens aren’t cute, right?

I did see the video but I can’t say it shocked or affected me in any particular way. Obviously, I don’t condone the killing of innocent puppies, but it just amazes me how outraged people will get over some dead puppies while worse things are going on in the world right as you read this sentence. And of course you have the people who get so angry they say things like “the fucking bitch should be killed,” which is astonishingly hypocritical for one thing, and no one seems to want to consider this girl’s circumstances. It’s really easy to label her as a sick, twisted bitch. It’s really more of a way to make yourself feel better. Already there are plenty of “suspects” as to who this girl is. Some say she’s a girl from Bosnia, others say Germany, others say Croatia, etc. etc. It’s the fucking Legend Of The Twisted Puppy Tosser. Maybe a scenario of something like her being in a poor, war-torn country, with an outraged father who threatens to beat her if she doesn’t get rid of the puppies, and the family dog can’t afford to be neutered, and there’s no convenient humane society 3 blocks away, and tossing the puppies into the river was at least a better alternative to smashing their little heads in with a rock, and she thought it was humane enough and had an oddly sunny demeanor about the whole thing, and made the mistake of letting someone film it just didn’t come to mind. I’m not defending this girl, I’m just trying to do some lateral thinking. It’s far too easy to believe people are twisted and evil, and nothing more.

Another reason why my reaction wasn’t too strong is probably because I’ve just grown too cynical. I don’t believe a goddamn thing I see on the internet or TV, really. What are the chances that within a week we’ll be finding out that there was a whole production team behind the video, and that the puppies were state-of-the-art CGI, and that the girl in the red hoodie is a part-time model and aspiring actress, and that 20 second video cost 1.5 million dollars to make, but damnit, it got a lot of hits, because people just love to be shocked, and of course, cute animals dying is the taboo of taboos. In this day and age when anything can be doctored, you need to use your discretion. I thought that “Scarface School Play” video was legitimate at first. And that video of the girl who had the terrible reaction to the flu shot sent shivers down my spine. It turned out to be complete bullshit. There’s that woman who quit her job over a series of photos “sent to the office,” that urban legend of the girl who accidentally sent her dad a text that she just lost her virginity, there was LonelyGirl, a pioneer in the internet hoax department, and plenty more. It’s shocking how little things have changed since Orson Welles’ infamous “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast. People will believe anything.

Instead of watching all these shocking internet videos and voicing your useless, generic opinions about it on your vlog, try exercising different areas of your brain other than the sections that can only express shock and disgust. Try some critical thinking. Try reading a book or something. Last time I checked, libraries still carry The Bible. It’s a good read, and very satisfying if you want to see animals have the upper-hand on humans for once: those lions tear the Christians a new one.