Now that "The Dark Knight Rises" has wrapped Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy in a neat little bow, many are wondering how Warner Bros. will reboot the series without him. Those who have seen the film know it ends with a perfectly logical place to go with the character, but to attempt a full-on franchise reboot they'll need a bold creative team with a fresh take on the world of the Caped Crusader.
With nearly 75-years of comics under Batman's utility belt, there is a rich well of untapped source material to draw from, so it's time to let our inner fanfiction demon loose with six unique pitches the studio can turn to. As far as they're concerned, all the actors, directors, and concepts below are interchangeable, with any one of them ready and able to shed new light on the Dark Knight.
<em>Starring Jake Gyllenhaal; directed by Duncan Jones</em><br> <strong>The Plot:</strong> In 2046 Terry McGinnis (Gyllenhaal) is a former gang member on the run from The Jokerz, a gang modeled on a long-dead Joker. When he is saved by an aged Bruce Wayne (Harrison Ford), he discovers the old billionaire's secret identity. After his parents -- Wayne employees -- are brutally murdered, Terry seeks the help and mentoring of Bruce to take up the mantle of the Dark Knight.<br> <strong>The Reason:</strong> Gyllenhaal was originally up for the role when Christian Bale got it -- and of course his big sis Maggie got to have fun with Batsie in "The Dark Knight" -- so it's probably about time he got a taste of the action. Also, having worked well with Jones on "Source Code," we could see this collaboration growing. Since Jones was already on the shortlist to direct "Man of Steel," he's likely a top contender to direct the next Batman no matter what. With his self-proclaimed love of all things "Blade Runner" and sci-fi, the "Moon" helmer would probably make this futuristic iteration of the character awesome "beyond" (sorry) expectations.
"Legends of the Dark Knight"
<em>Starring Ryan Gosling; directed by Nicholas Winding Refn</em><br> <strong>The Plot:</strong>Professor Hugo Strange (Refn vet Mads Mikkelsen) is plotting a takeover of Gotham, using his knowledge of Batman's identity and psychological profile against him. Bruce's sexy love interest Silver St. Cloud (Jennifer Lawrence) has also found out his identity, and Batman must figure out a way to keep his secret while bringing down an adversary who can calculate his every move. Throw in Bill Nighy as Alfred and a mandatory "R"-rating and you'd have a gloriously strange and disturbing take on the Dark Knight that would make Nolan's Gotham City look like "Sesame Street."<br> <strong>The Reason: </strong>The appropriateness of bringing in gonzo "Drive" helmer Refn and his partner-in-crime Gosling to do their take on Batman pretty much speaks for itself. Gosling has the physique and eccentric nature to bring a unique take on Bruce Wayne, and Refn knows his way around the world of organized crime after the "Pusher" series and "Drive."
<em>Starring Shia LaBeouf; directed by Gareth Evans</em><br> <strong>Plot:</strong> For all their grounded characters, Nolan's Batflicks all revolved around a super villain perpetrating some kind of insane plot to destroy Gotham City. This movie would not only do away with terrorism in favor of everyday crime and gang violence, it would shift the focus from Batman directly to the police officers and citizens who encounter him (think of it as "The Wire" with Batman as Omar). The MCU would be headed by Marcus Driver (Jamie Bell), the last detective pulled into the unit by now-retired James Gordon (Ed Harris), but corrupt cop Harvey Bullock (Paul Giamatti) has his sights on sabotaging his latest investigation. <br> <strong>The Reason:</strong> "Indiana Jones" aside, LaBeouf continues to grow and show range, with a dark rage under the surface that would be perfect for the Caped Crusader, and charm to spare as Bruce Wayne. Add in "The Raid: Redemption" director Gareth Evans and the studio gets a hungry, brilliant filmmaker (not unlike Nolan was in 2004) who knows how to stage an action scene for maximum intensity and suspense.
<em>Starring Bruce Willis; director Rian Johnson</em><br> <strong>The Plot:</strong> This long-awaited direct film adaptation of Frank Miller's seminal 1986 graphic novel would re-team the "Looper" star and director to finally give us the grizzled, 55-year-old Batman coming out of retirement to fight crime in dystopic future Gotham City. That is, if the government and Superman himself (Jon Hamm) don't have something to say about it. With the help of his inexperienced new Robin in the form of 13-year-old Carrie Kelly (Hailee Steinfeld) and old (REALLY old) pals Alfred (Michael Gambon) and Jim Gordon (Nick Nolte), he'll fight mutant gangs and The Joker (Robin Williams) in order to take back the night.<br> <strong>The Reason:</strong> How's that for a dream cast? Zack Snyder has said in the past he would have loved to direct this book, but Johnson is a visionary filmmaker with a great sense for noir showcased in his awesome debut "Brick." Willis would be a perfect for an aging Dark Knight. Plus, Gambon and Nolte in the same film? You could do a spinoff series with the two of those characters.
"Vengeance of the Dark Knight"
<em>Starring Charlie Hunnam; directed Chan-wook Park</em><br> <strong>The Plot:</strong> A ripping version of the famous 1989 comics story "A Death in the Family," where hotheaded young Robin, Jason Todd (Zac Efron), gets his wings clipped by The Joker... permanently. With his ward murdered, Batman and Alfred (Anthony Hopkins) set out to find The Joker (Hugo Weaving) and his female associate Harley Quinn (Mia Wasikowska) to exact some twisted form of vigilante justice. <strong>The Reason:</strong>"Oldboy" director Park is one of a handful of filmmakers we could outright call a genius, and the gothic Korean just made his American debut "Stoker." "Sons of Anarchy" star Hunnam could be huge after "Pacific Rim," and would make a strong choice as Wayne.
"Batman: Shadow of the Bat"
<em>Starring Bradley Cooper; directed by Alex Proyas</em><br> <strong>The Plot:</strong> Not so realistic as Nolan's, but a pure, blissfully graphic novel feel. This could also be an interesting opportunity to explore Bruce Wayne's romantic relationship with Julia Pennyworth (Emma Watson), the daughter of Alfred (Charles Dance).<br> <strong>The Reason:</strong> Proyas already showed a penchant for creating dark, moody comic-book worlds in "The Crow" and "Dark City," but the thing he could really bring is a melding of some of the more absurd villains in Batman's rogues gallery (Killer Croc, Solomon Grundy, Clayface), with a level of gravitas, much like Joss Whedon did with "The Avengers." Proyas and Cooper were nearly set to work together on the aborted "Paradise Lost," and the "Hangover" star has a look that just begs for him to play a superhero.