We've already discussed our feeling that The Dark Knight Rises won't be the last place you see John Blake, the detective played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the film. Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy has massive public appeal outside of the relatively small pond of comics, and it would be silly not to include him as a supporting player in the comic books, or perhaps as a Gotham cop in future movies or TV series.
Since the last time we discussed this, it stoked a lot of conversation here, on Facebook and Google+ regarding what might be done with the character, we decided to round up a few of the most popular fan theories, along with an idea or two that really appealed to use, to make a list of what could be next for the Gothamite with the most interesting first name in the series.
Just for fun, we're also including the odds that we give each event of actually happening.
A Standalone Nightwing Movie (Odds: 100:1)
For my money, it seemed pretty obvious that the implication was that Gotham needed a Batman, that Blake "believed in" Batman, and that without Bruce Wayne to do the job, it was Blake's. Of course, there are any number of reasons why he still might take on another suit, and fans overwhelmingly seemed to favor the Blake-as-Nightwing theory over anything that saw him taking over the scalloped cape and pointy-eared cowl.
Could we see a Nightwing movie? It's unlikely, but not impossible. Certainly Nolan would have nothing to do with it, meaning that someone would have to persuade Joseph Gordon-Levitt to do a movie set in the Nolanverse and without a director with whom he has a pretty strong relationship--but of the "big three" of Christopher Nolan, Christian Bale and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Levitt is the only one who hasn't explicitly stated he won't be back.
Without JGL? The whole idea just doesn't work. Levitt would be a tie to the Nolan films and therefore justify re-casting Dick Grayson as Robin John Blake. Without the same actor, that connection would be really strained and cutting Grayson out of the identity that was created as a way to get him out from under the Dark Knight's shadow doesn't make any sense at all.
Takes over as Batman in Batman reboot (Odds: 250:1)
There are a lot of people right now who are mourning the end of the Nolan films and who think they would like to see Levitt/Blake return as Batman in the next film, picking up from the continuity of this trilogy. It's our opinion that those people should be careful what they ask for, and that Levitt is a savvy enough actor to know that.
Money, of course, can change even the savviest of actors' minds and, as Sean Connery once told us, one can never say "never."
As for a reboot, something that Warner has more or less already admitted has to happen in the wake of Nolan's genre-bending films? It would make any sense to have the character return as Batman in a reboot. That would involve embracing an alternate version of the mythology with which ONLY those who see The Dark Knight Rises would recognize, while losing the benefit of the Nolan films as backstory. It's the worst of both worlds.
Plays Batman in Justice League movie (Odds: 1,000:1)
Remember what we said about the baggage of having a long and complicated backstory, without the benefit of being a direct sequel to The Dark Knight Rises? All that, times ten.
The next Batman movie needs to be accessible to the average man on the street, but a Justice League movie? It NEEDS to be accessible and easy to understand. Adding Blake into the mix would create instant conflict and confusion, plus the writer would likely feel the need to address the discrepancy on-camera by referencing some relationship that Bruce Wayne may or may not supposedly have had with one or more of the characters on the League.
This one won't happen. It just won't; it's too good an idea for Hollywood to do it. But we want it badly.
Gotham Central, written by Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker, was one of the best comic book series set in Gotham in the last thirty years. Its premise? "What's it like to be a cop in a city where most of your co-workers are corrupt and all the biggest cases get cracked by a nut who dresses up in his underwear and beats people up?" The series was gripping, fascinating, and enhanced the Bat-universe substantially by making characters who don't generally get a lot of screen time into interesting, three-dimensional personalities who could then bring those personalities and baggage into other titles (one of the cops, murdered by a dirty parter, came back as The Spectre, for starters).
It's also tailor-made for television; it's like a police procedural wrapped in a workplace drama dressed up with superheroes.
Where does Blake, who never appeared in the original series fit in? Well, we're not sure. But they could easily find a place for him, and the concept alone is so strong and flexible that it seems like the best way to go forward to us.
Comic books (Odds: 2:1)
As we said yesterday, it seems like a no-brainer to add Blake to the GCPD in the comics. It keeps him on people's minds and gives a great character a home in the comics. Characters like Jimmy Olsen, Harley Quinn and the GCPD's own Renee Montoya really had no problem seamlessly transitioning them into the comics--and right now, not only do the Gotham cops appear in Batman and his titles, but Maggie Sawyer's unit is fairly prominent in Batwoman as well. And that's a title that could easily transition some Nolanverse concepts in without feeling like they had compromised anything!