Batman

Diving deep into the Batcave on Batman's 80th anniversary

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A few months ago, my nieces stopped over for a visit. With their mother around, watching TV or playing with the iPad wasn’t an option. So the kids went to Uncle Ian’s room to find some toys to play with or books to read.

While we were doodling on sketch pads, Junior Niece asked me, “Why do you like Batman so much?” What do you mean, kid? Why do you ask think I like Batman?She then took some Blu-rays from my TV stand and set them down in front of me. Hmm, the kid had a point.

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She definitely caught on to a theme. And that pile didn’t even include the Justice League and Batman v Superman discs that were also on the stand. Or the many other DVDs/Blu-rays I keep in a folder. She continued to bring me things scattered throughout the room.

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New Batman movie scheduled for June 2021, won't involve Ben Affleck

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There are plenty of compelling Batman storylines that can be found these days in DC Comics. But one of the greatest mysteries currently involving the Dark Knight concerns the next time we’ll see him on the big screen.

This week, however, some details were finally revealed regarding Matt Reeves’s new Batman film. Reeves, best known for directing two of the rebooted Planet of the Apes movies, has been working on a script for the project and filming reportedly wasn’t going to begin until he and Warner Brothers believed they had it right.

Apparently, it’s just about there. WB announced on Wednesday (Jan. 30) that The Batman, which was supposedly the working title when Ben Affleck was writing and directing the film, is set for a June 25, 2021 release. (The studio also announced an Aug. 6, 2021 date for a Suicide Squad sequel, and TheWrap is reporting that James Gunn is set to direct.)

But Affleck won’t be playing Batman in this movie. According to Deadline’s Anthony D’Alessandro, Reeves’s story involves a younger Bruce Wayne, which means the role will be recast. Other outlets, such as Entertainment Tonight, have confirmed that Affleck isn’t wearing the cowl in this one.

Affleck gave his thumbs-up to the project on Twitter, and essentially confirmed the report by not denying that he won’t be returning to the Batman role.

Rumors of recasting Batman have been prevalent for nearly two years, ever since Reeves took over the project. Initially, The Batman was envisioned as an all-Affleck endeavor. He was set to write (with DC’s Geoff Johns), direct and star in the film. While that excited many fans, eager to see the director of Best Picture winner Argo (2012) helm a Batman movie, taking all of those roles on was surely over-ambitious. No one has ever tried to write, direct and be the lead actor of a blockbuster superhero movie before.

Affleck insisted that he and Johns needed to get the script right before production began. But for a variety of personal and professional reasons, he eventually stepped aside as director. Once Reeves was tapped as a replacement, he took over the script as well and set to rewrite it. Soon thereafter, rumors persisted that Affleck was done playing Batman. Whether that was because of the critical beating Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice suffered, the financial failure of Justice League, a growing disinterest in being chained to a franchise superhero role, or all of the above, it seemed like a matter of time before WB announced that a change would be made.

Reeves told The Hollywood Reporter that he has a “noir” detective-style story in mind for his depiction of the Caped Crusader. He also said here will be a Rogues Gallery,” which will open up plenty of guessing as to how many villains Batman will face. (Previous rumors have said that The Penguin will be the main bad guy.)

Until we learn more, the speculation will immediately begin as to who will play Batman next. It’ll be one of the hottest rumors in Hollywood. Let the fun begin. And remember the reaction when Affleck was cast as Batman? The next choice better be ready.

Batman: The Long Halloween to reportedly be adapted into two-part animated movie

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One of the best Batman stories of the past 25 years is next on DC Entertainment’s animated film slate. As first reported by Revenge of the Fans, Batman: The Long Halloween is set to be adapted into a two-part movie. The original limited series written by Jeph Loeb and illustrated by Tim Sale ran for 13 issues between 1996 and 1997 and was a significant influence on Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, particularly The Dark Knight.

Though DC Entertainment has adapted many memorable comic book story arcs into animated movies, only a select handful have been given the two-part treatment. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns was the first of the studio’s two-part ventures, with each installment released four months apart between 2012 and 2013. Later this January, Reign of the Supermen will debut, following up six months after The Death of Superman was released.

The Long Halloween takes place early in Batman’s career, as the Gotham police and district attorney’s office try to end the mob war between the Falcone and Maroni families. Igniting the conflict is a mystery killer, who murders the youngest Falcone son and proceeds to murder someone each month, usually on holidays. Along the way, crime boss Carmine Falcone employs villains like the Riddler and Poison Ivy to gain an advantage, while the Joker attempts to take out the Holiday killer for moving on his territory.

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Above all, The Long Halloween is an origin story for Two-Face. Harvey Dent works with Batman against the two mob families, but becomes increasingly irrational in his ambition. Following attempts to kill him and his family, and the pivotal incident that scars half of his face, Dent loses his grip on reality and seeks revenge on Falcone.

What could be most intriguing about this adaptation is whether or not the animation style tries to follow the distinct style of Tim Sale’s dark, moody art. Sale’s Batman looks unlike many other interpretations, especially with the Dark Knight’s mask and cape. But his version is a bulkier hero, similar to Frank Miller’s Batman. Sale’s style is most distinct with the supporting characters in the story, notably each member of the Falcone and Maroni families. Nobody draws the Joker, Penguin or Poison Ivy like he does, depicting each as almost supernatural characters.

According to Mario-Francisco Robles’s report, this two-part Batman film will not be part of the DC animated universe that’s been established with films like The Death of Superman and the various Justice League movies. This will be a standalone Batman story like The Killing Joke, The Dark Knight Returns and the upcoming Hush.

There’s no word on when The Long Halloween is expected to debut, but the 2019 schedule for DC animated films — including Justice League vs. The Fatal Five and Wonder Woman: Bloodlines — so we probably won’t see Part 1 of this story until 2020 at the earliest.

OK, the Joaquin Phoenix Joker movie is becoming more intriguing

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Last week, director Todd Phillips released the first photo of Joaquin Phoenix in his Joker movie. The image seemed rather pedestrian at first glance, with Phillips writing the caption “Arthur.” Arthur looked like just a guy — albeit maybe a sad, down on his luck guy.

But that seemed to be the point. The man who became the Joker — a homicidal maniac and criminal mastermind, Batman’s greatest foe — wasn’t anyone special. The photo of Phoenix might have even presented something of a blank canvas, if you took the time to stare at it. Is he smirking? Does he give off any sense of the maniac to be unleashed?

The non-descript photo also raised the question of how much “Joker” we’ll see in Phillips’s film. Will the movie mostly be the deterioration of a failed comedian and fledgling criminal into a mentally unhinged murderer whose life is eventually only completed by finding an adversary, maybe a funhouse mirror image, in Batman?

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Arthur.

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Even so, will Arthur (full name Arthur Fleck, according to reports) only become the Joker by the end of the film, opening the door to the character and storylines familiar to millions of comic book, cartoon and movie fans? Or will we see the so-called Clown Prince of Crime in action for, say, a full third act?

What would be really fun is if we don’t see Phoenix’s version of the Joker until he appears on screen in the finished him. But I realize we don’t live in that world — and maybe we never did. The Joker will surely appear in a trailer and promotional features. Maybe he’ll get an Entertainment Weekly cover too.

It didn’t even take a week for Phillips to provide a glimpse of what his Joker will look like. Returning to Instagram with a short video, the director posted a short clip of Arthur. Would this just be the photo come to life? It initially looked that way, but then we see projections of a clown onto Fleck, creating an unsettling glimpse of the Joker within.

Upon closer viewing, it becomes apparent that it’s not just any clown being projected. It’s Arthur as the Joker, complete with his signature purple jacket and orange vest. And then we see him. The make-up is on his face. The demented smile is there before turning deadly serious.

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Camera test (w/ sound). Joker.

A post shared by Todd Phillips (@toddphillips1) on

There it is: Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker. That could easily be a comic book cover. The question is whether or not that will be the final version we see in this movie. Phillips’s caption says “Camera test (w/ sound). Joker.” Maybe not exactly a definitive statement, though it feels that way.

Yet this doesn’t mean that what we see from Phoenix in that clip will be the newly redefined version of the character. Even if that’s the Joker we’re left with by the end of the film, he could still go on to become the more flamboyant version from the comic books or the 1989 Batman film. He could evolve into Heath Ledger’s grease-painted master of chaos in The Dark Knight or the tatted-up gangster portrayed by Jared Leto in Suicide Squad.

Personally, the idea of a standalone film depicting the Joker’s origin didn’t appeal to me initially. Joaquin Phoenix playing the role was interesting, however. I’ll watch him in just about anything he does. But now, interest is growing into intrigue. Curiosity is getting stronger. Phillips and Phoenix are doing a good job of making this movie enticing.

Joker has a scheduled release date of Oct. 4, 2019.