One huge piece of news that came out of SDCC '13 that I have yet to address is the announcement that the Zack Snyder helmed follow-up to this summer's Man of Steel, which will make its way to theaters in an already jammed up 2015, will see the inclusion of DC's most successful on-screen character, Batman. This is the news for which DC and comic book fans in general have been hoping. DC had great success both critically and financially with Nolan's Batman trilogy but have yet to give fans a on-screen team up. While the Man of Steel sequel will not include Nolan's Batman, it will still deliver, for the first time, two of the most iconic and well-recognized heroes together on film.
In a previous blog I gave a short opinion on the future of the DC Cinematic Universe and how Batman might fit into that. The official announcement given at SDCC was accompanied by a line from The Dark Knight Returns, a story in which both Batman and Superman are well-evolved personalities. Clearly that part of the story will no be adapted into this film, but it's very likely that other aspects will make their way from page to screen.
It is clearly early stages for this film but that won't stop a man like me from speculating now, would it?
To expand on my earlier prognostications, I believe that the most likely, and interesting, road for DC to travel will be one that sets Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor down parallel paths with their initial mistrust for Superman being the common ground. Luthor has seen alien beings come to his city and level it. He is the money and power in Metropolis. He will put on a public face of concern and mistrust for this super-powered being that stayed behind while he will use his finances to rebuild Metropolis, boosting his political stock with the local people and America. Behind the scenes, however, we can be sure that Luthor will be using every bit of his resources to uncover whatever secrets he can about Superman because he is, at the time, the one being on the planet with the ability to have more power than Lex...and Lex is not the sharing type. The Luthor I expect to see on screen in the DCCU is not going to play like the one we have seen before. I don't expect him to be a plotter and schemer who fails in his every attempt to best Superman. I expect him to be a constant in the DCCU, the evil lurking in the background while his public persona grows in power and fame.
On the other side of this parallel we'll see, what I expect to be, a young Bruce Wayne, possibly just beginning his career as a vigilante on the streets of Gotham...along the lines of where we saw him in Batman Begins but without the redone origin story. Clearly to someone who fights crime someone like Superman is going to grab his attention. Bruce will not put on any public face at all but behind the scenes he too will be using his resources, hopefully including his considerable detective skills which have mostly been ignored in previous Batman films, to find out what secrets he can about Superman. This won't be because Bruce is afraid to share but because Bruce inherently mistrusts almost everyone and to him, knowledge is power.
Both of these antagonistic paths will likely result in confrontations for Superman, and, I expect, him to falter in them both, initially. I expect Luthor's campaign to build mistrust will hurt Superman's public image but, in this movie, I do not anticipate a physical conflict between Lex and Superman; Batman will provide that component and, in the vein of The Dark Knight Returns, I expect he will be able to, even at least momentarily, put Superman down. Perhaps this will be where we see, for the first time in this series, Superman's susceptibility to Kryptonite.
Afterwards I assume the two will develop mutual respect for one another and, finally, join forces to defeat a common enemy, one I guess Luthor will be behind but not found responsible for. At this point where things head could be quite interesting. In the New 52 comics, the general public is still quite mistrusting of meta-humans and other heroes and this is likely going to be the state of things when this film begins. Will it finish this same way or will the acts of Superman and Batman redeem them? Or will Luthor have manipulated the entire process with the intent of further damaging the reputation of these two heroes?
Being the devil's advocate, I would love to see the film conclude with Luthor seemingly having bested the two heroes strategically despite the team up of The World's Finest being able to physically defeat whatever foe(s) are thrown in their way. This would fit right into the origin of the Justice League in the pages of the New 52 and would lead to a wonderful redemption story when we finally see the Justice League film, rumored for 2017.
Again just speculation and brain splatter on my part...very likely none of what I detailed above ever sees the screen. But that wouldn't stop a man like me from typing it out.