There have been rumors of a Batman Beyond project for years now, and it looks like we could be closer than ever. In the past couple of weeks, reports indicate Warner Bros. could have a project in active development.
According to We Got This Covered, Warner Bros. is developing a Batman Beyond movie that would adapt the 2000 animated film Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. Casting rumors include Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne, Tye Sheridan as Terry McGinnis, and Alexander Skarsgård as the Joker.
This project would make a lot of sense for Warner Bros. They could use a teenage hero in cinemas as Marvel continues to strengthen their roster of young heroes started by Spider-Man (unless we’re counting Shazam!, are we counting Shazam!?). Batman Beyond would allow them to leverage the Batman brand but still take it in a completely different direction than anything they’ve done before.
While they work on their adaptation, here’s a potential plan for what I’d like to see in a Batman Beyond movie. We’ll talk about the tone, story, casting and everything else in this Let’s Make a Movie.
Batman for a new generation. Set in the futuristic Neo-Gotham of 2039, the story follows a teenager, Terry McGinnis, who takes up the mantle of Batman with help from an aging Bruce Wayne and an advanced Batsuit. Terry deals with the same problems of the original Batman – a murdered parent, crime-filled streets and a supervillain he may have unintentionally created – while also living a double life as a high school student.
One of the biggest things that will set this project apart is the setting and technology. Just like the Tim Burton Batman and Batman: The Animated Series created a unique and vibrant setting by giving Gotham a gothic feel, Neo-Gotham can help establish the feel of the Batman Beyond world. Neo-Gotham can take a lot of cue from Blade Runner and other futuristic settings where things are much bleaker and more dangerous.
While I always shake my head every time DC plans to go “darker and grittier” for their next adaptation, that does fit well here. By that, I mean darker when compared to Spider-Man. The city is less hopeful and your protagonist is much surlier and angry. However, it should still find time to lighten the mood a bit and have some fun. It is set in high school after all.
While Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker is definitely one of the best Batman stories told, it doesn’t feel right for the first Batman Beyond live-action movie. Instead, the first season of the show offers a good starting point.
One thing the show did really well is start off in the past, showing Bruce Wayne’s last mission as Batman. This allows the movie to start with an action scene right out of the gate and explain why Bruce hangs up the cape.
We then cut forward and establish Terry as a hot-headed and generally rebellious high school kid. We can show how much the city has changed and crime has risen since Batman’s retirement. The Joker gang is a good representation of this. Then, Terry gets into a fight with the Jokers, meets Bruce, and discovers the Bat-cave.
The main villain will be Derek Powers aka Blight, who kills Terry’s father to hide evidence of Wayne-Powers illegally producing chemical weapons. Terry steals the Batsuit to confront Powers and inadvertently douses him with chemicals, turning him into the supervillain Blight. One thing the movie can do better than the show is to highlight how Terry’s rash decisions and inexperience lead to this.
The plot can continue with Bruce finally agreeing to mentor Terry as they investigate Powers and attempt to stop Blight. The investigation can bring in his friend Maxine as she conducts her own research and police Commissioner Barbara Gordon. The final confrontation gives Terry the choice to kill Blight and get revenge for his father or to take him in.
Batman Beyond Casting
Director – Doug Liman
With directing credits such as Edge of Tomorrow, Jumper and Impulse, Doug Liman seems like a great choice to direct this sci-fi superhero. His futuristic settings always have a great tone and feel to them and he’s proven he can handle big-budget films. He’s even got a couple episodes of The O.C. under his belt for that high school drama.
Terry McGinnis – Judah Lewis
Lewis was actually on the shortlist when Marvel and Sony were looking for their new Spider-Man. He seems to have a bit of a darker edge, making him a bad fit for the web-slinger but a great choice for the moodier Terry. He has sequels scheduled for The Babysitter and The Christmas Chronicles, proving he can support a franchise. It seems like he’s reached the point where he’s ready to lead one.
At only 5’9”, he might not seem like the right physical fit for the un-caped crusader. But, Doug Liman has directed Tom Cruise multiple times so I’m sure he has all the angles figured out.
Bruce Wayne – Michael Keaton
This is the one rumor coming out recently that I’m really hoping is true. It just makes too much sense for Batman himself to come back around to play the aging Bruce Wayne. Some of his more dramatic turns lately have proven he can definitely play the broken and haunted version of his most famous role.
Derek Powers/Blight – Jude Law
Jude Law recently played a Marvel character, but this role would be unique enough and provide a new enough opportunity that he may be interested in trying again. His roles in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and The New Pope shows his ability to command authority while being despisable. The sophisticated and calculating businessman Derek Power would be very believable for Law. The more interesting side would be seeing his pure rage and explosive energy as Blight. Yon-Rogg was a much more reserved villain, this would give him a chance to really let loose.
Barbara Gordon – Julianne Moore
In the animated series, the adult Barbara is a little more Commissioner Gordon and a little less Batgirl. I think it would be interesting to take a different approach with someone who looks like they were Batgirl for years. Julianne Moore has the look of a former superhero and the authority and presence to play a current police Commissioner.
Max – China Anne McClain
Another actor with a superhero role under her belt, China would be a great choice for the sarcastic and intelligent Maxine. She already plays Jennifer Pierce on Black Lightning, which technically exists in the same universe as Michael Keaton’s Batman…but…multiverse so we’re all good.
What do you think of this approach to a Batman Beyond movie? Would you prefer to see an adaptation of Return of the Joker? Who would your ideal cast be? Let me know!