The Dark Knight is Dead, Long Live Bruce Wayne!

Worst rumor ever. As a fan of Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise and a respecter of storyline integrity, I believe that putting the Joseph Gordon-Levitt Batman in the Justice League movie is a big mistake. Bigger than Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern. It will definitely be more successful, but  even more distasteful.

First of all, there’s nothing wrong with Joseph Gordon-Levitt as an actor. I enjoy his acting. He was a highlight for me in Inception, a movie I thought to be overly hyped and lacking in a strong narrative and direction despite its cool concept. That’s something you should know about me if I’m going to be talking about movies. I thought Inception was alright.

Second of all, I thought The Dark Knight Rises was less than a masterpiece. Perhaps I need to see it again, but I found the entire movie to be a mess. Most of it seemed to be a reenactment of The Dark Knight, so much so that I was waiting for someone in the movie to say “Wait, the Joker did this before!” When no one said anything I thought maybe I had misunderstood something. I don’t outright think that TDKR is simply a copy of TDK, but I think it repeated a lot of themes that Nolan had already used more effectively elsewhere.

I also disliked the fact that Joseph Gordon-Levitt took up about half the film. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure I went to go see a Batman movie, not the sequel to Inception, and not a movie called Young Gotham Cop. I want to see Bruce Wayne, as Batman, kicking ass. Instead we get Batman disappearing for a majority of the movie. To the point where he wasn’t even the main character of his own film. I definitely like ensemble casts. Character focused arcs are the linchpin to strong storytelling, especially when dealing with comic books. However, I came to see Batman. Instead I got a beat up old Batman getting his groove back and then watched him get utterly destroyed and then have to repeat the process all over again so he can wander around in the desert before magically teleporting to Gotham. These scenes took place in between the adventures of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, not-Robin Robin, and all I could say was “this is interesting, but where’s Batman?”

In the end we discover that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is now Batman, and despite being robbed of the greatest cinematic achievement of all time, I accepted the ending as what it was: Legacy. Superheroes have a great deal of legacy running through them. Every superhero is the continuation of another concept, another idea, another character. Comic books have built on previous generations since before there were even comic books to copy. Christopher Nolan was finally ending the chapter of Bruce Wayne and now we were moving on.

But we’re not moving on. Nolan isn’t directing Batman 4, there are no further adventures of Robin Blake. The universe ends. We go home. We think about what we just witnessed. The end of Bruce Wayne and the beginning of Robin Blake. This is not a new idea, there have been new Batmen before, but never have we seen the legacy of the character end quite like this and move on to the next. When Dick Grayson became Batman it was because Bruce Wayne ‘died’ and when Terry McGinnis became Batman in Batman Beyond, it was because Bruce Wayne got too old. Now we see a Batman who is free from his demons, a man who is walking away on his own terms. He’s not being forced out of the job, he’s done with it. One day he won’t be needed as Batman and that day has come and the legacy moves on and the torch gets passed. While killing Batman would have been utterly magnificent, I can see now why Nolan couldn’t allow that to happen. We’ve seen the mantle get ripped out of the heroes’ hands, but very rarely do we get to see them pass it on. Especially in Batman’s case.

But again, we’re here to see Batman, and Batman is wholly Bruce Wayne. Not Dick Grayson and not Terry McGinnis. It’s fun to see an alternate take on the character, but at the end of the day Bruce Wayne is Batman and Batman is Bruce Wayne. Now we’re saying that Robin Blake is Batman and Batman is Robin Blake. That was never meant for our eyes. His adventures as Batman are meant to be implied, but never seen. There can be no Batman 4 because Robin Blake as Batman cannot exist. He’s more than just another guy in a mask, he’s an idea. Anything we actually see will be less than what we can imagine. Not-Bruce Wayne.

Bringing Joseph Gordon-Levitt Batman into the Justice League movie will destroy the very fabric of storytelling integrity. There is no sequel to the end of Bruce Wayne. The end of Bruce Wayne is where the story ends. A new Batman in a new movie is like making a sequel to Watchmen or Moby Dick (whoops). There are things that were just not meant to be touched or tinkered with. Seeing someone who is not Bruce Wayne, but supposed to be THE Batman, not A Batman, on film, would be fraudulent. It could make sense, but it will never feel real.

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