Who Killed the Batman Franchise
Its been almost a year since Warner Brothers released Batman and Robin and the nasty outlash from fans, many adamant that Tim Burton and Michael Keaton return and save the franchise. While I could discuss the pros and cons of the above, Instead Lets look at the people who "killed" the Batman movie franchise.
A lot of people share the blame for the poor performance of Batman and Robin. There are a lot of reasons why the movie failed, poor acting, an overall childish script and too much attention to visual effects. I have narrowed the list of suspects down to three people: Warner Brothers, Director Joel Schumacher and screenplay writer Akiva Goldsman.
First lets look at Warner Brothers. Warner owns DC so they can make all the Batman movies they want. Warner wanted to make a Batman movie since 1979. The problem was they couldn't find the right person to direct the movie and were worried that people wouldn't go for a superhero with no special powers. 20 years later, they found Tim Burton and three movies later Warner had a very big franchise in their hands. Warner knew they could make a lot of money from box office receipts, merchandise and video sales. For all they cared, the movie's script didn't have to be perfect. Just make a Batman movie and people will come; They'll touch anything with Batman's name on it. They didn't care about treating the character with respect, they didn't care about the legions of Batman fans who wanted to see their character shine. The only thing they cared about was making money off of a legendary hero. If they did care about the character, they wouldn't have allowed the release of Batman and Robin as we saw it, they wouldn't be thinking of making a Batman musical. In fact they don't respect any superhero licenses, why did Kevin Smith's "Superman Lives" script get thrown out. Smith, a big fan of comics, wrote a script which was very true to the comic version of Superman, but it still gets thrown out. Why? one word. Money. And now thanks to constant delays and politics amongst the creators, Superman fans are left feeling the same as Batman fans are now.
Second, Joel Schumacher. Schumacher has said that he considers Batman to be the "Bright Knight" a person who "you can invite for dinner" Instead of following the source material, he goes for the campy version. Despite the bad reviews and the hordes of fans who want his head on a platter, he remains unrepentant claiming that he is proud of what he did. Schumacher also added that he listened to parents who wanted a "Kid friendly" Batman which wasn't dark, kids could enjoy and feels that he did just that. By thinking like this, Schumacher misses the point: Batman isn't a children's hero, he is a literary legend who has fans all over the world and all ages. By making a movie for kids, they are ignoring their target audience. Batman readers range from 15 and over and the comics themselves are often filled with situations that only older people will understand. Second, lightening up Batman doesn't mean making him campy. Lightening up and camping up are two different things. Batman with a lighter tone means reducing the violence, cutting down on the psychology and focusing more on Batman's other traits such as his private life, his detective skills etc.. Perhaps Joel should sit down with Bruce Timm and Paul Dini of the animated series; these two gentlemen along with numerous other creators on the show have given a very accurate portrayal of Batman for fans of all ages. In Joel's defence, one can say that Batman is open to anyone's interpretation. This is true just as long as his roots and origins are honoured. If Batman/Bruce Wayne isn't dark, why does he bother calling himself Batman? because it sounds right? no Bruce became Batman because the bat is a symbol of terror. That's what Bob Kane wrote in the very first origin and that stands 59 years later.
Finally Akiva Goldsman. Goldsmans script seemed more like a script for the Power Rangers show: a lot of unrealistic situations covered up by mass destruction and hi-tech vehicles. The only redeeming part of his script is the interactions between Bruce Wayne and Alfred. otherwise the characters were flat, the dialogue was childish and there were too many oddball situations. Akiva didn't do any research on the characters and it clearly shows (This is the man who turned Bane from a 180 IQ powerhouse Batbreaker into a brainless thug.) Goldsman also wrote "Lost in Space" and even that script was flawed. Goldsman once said that he wasn't too good at writing camp. Perhaps he should rephrase that and say he isn't good at writing any form of screenplay.
How should these guilty parties be punished? First things first, Joel and Akiva should stay away from all Batman projects. Batman editor Scott Peterson once said that they only pick the best artists and writers to work on the comic stories and the same should apply to the movies. If the comics weren't written by the best writers and drawn by the best artists, would the character have survived all these years. As for Warner, they should start taking Batman a lot seriously, they should look at the other Successful franchises like James Bond and Star Trek. These movies have all had one or two bad ones but overall they are all well written. A great Batman movie can be made without using new vehicles, special effects, special bat-suits and other bells and whistles. The franchise can be brought back, only if the studio and the creators treat it seriously.