Does the World Really Need More Batman Movies?

While it's a long wait to March 4, 2022, the first trailer for Matt Reeves' The Batman thrilled fans when it was released this summer during DC FanDome. Set to take something of a new approach to the iconic and beloved character, the eagerly anticipated film is set to see Robert Pattinson's Dark Knight in the early years of his crusade and will see not an origin for the hero, but something more in the middle of his story. It's an idea that has many wishing it were 2022 already, but not everyone is hyped for The Batman -- or any Batman movie, for that matter. For some fans it doesn't matter how interesting The Batman may look, there's just been so much of the Dark Knight in recent years between Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy and Ben Affleck's take on the character in the DCEU. Add to that and the return of both Affleck and Michael Keaton's takes on the character as the DCEU becomes a Multiverse with the upcoming Flash movie and it begins to feel like there might just be too much Batman right now and that the last thing we really need is another Batman movie.

Objectively-speaking, there is a lot of Batman, in movies and in print, and given the popularity of the character that makes sense. Batman is easily one of the most popular comic book characters across both DC and Marvel so it's just good business to want to put out a lot of Batman content. The problem with that, however, is that you start to get to a place where not only is the character over-saturated but the quality of the stories and variety of takes also start to suffer. One complaint that comes up when talking about live-action theatrical takes on Batman is that despite everyone trying to come up with their own take, they all end up feeling the same, one that reduces down to a central core: a billionaire with training and gadgets trying to deal with threats to his city in the most violent and sometimes least logical way possible. While that certainly is Batman, there's a lot more to the character than just that kernel of the character. The last truly fresh take on the character in terms of the movies, one that dug a bit into another, more psychological side of the character, was Val Kilmer's Batman in Batman Forever, a film that premiered 25 years ago.

Even if you are fine with the straightforward portrayal of Batman as a billionaire vigilante bent on vengeance, that that is the only version of the character means that the stories often are very similar and for good reason. Most filmmakers dig into the common Batman villains to capitalize on audience goodwill. Joker. Penguin. Riddler. Harvey Dent. Catwoman. They're staples of Batman stories and, thus, of Batman films, but that's also another thing that can be seen as another reason we just have too much Batman in the movies: there are other characters and stories to explore. DC Comics has a lot of other characters whose stories are worth telling on the big screen, but even if you wanted to stay rooted in the familiar Gotham setting, there are stories beyond Batman. Nightwing, Black Canary, Batgirl, Birds of Prey, Red Hood, Azrael, even Batwoman are all characters who could be utilized to tell a story centered in the world of Batman without actually using the character himself.

There's also the idea that Batman movies never really seem to deal with or even confront any serious issues. This is something that, love it or hate it, Joker actually did do with some success, touching on themes of poverty, mental health, and disenfranchisement. Batman films, in contrast, tend to touch only on one real trauma as part of the story -- the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne -- without digging into the larger issues that are part of the Batman story. Batman is determined to suit up to take on bad guys and corruption, but never really stops to ask what the root of that corruption is. It's a missed opportunity for the character generally, but one that could be especially interesting in a Batman film.

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Ultimately, Hollywood is going to keep making Batman movies. The character is popular and beloved, and even in an entertainment landscape that keeps shifting and changing telling Batman stories is a safe bet. But just because those movies can be made doesn't mean they should be. There have been so many Batman films in recent years, each one offering something that feels similar, breaks little new ground, and continues to take up space that could be utilized by new characters and new stories. While it remains to be seen just how Matt Reeves' The Batman will approach things, the world really doesn't need another Batman movie.