Random “How Great Would It Have Been…” Type Thoughts

10Sep12

All related to Batman, mostly to “The Dark Knight Rises.” NO, I’m not done yet.

We’ll grade these on a scale of 1 to 10, how great would it have been:

1.) To have featured Batgirl instead of Robin? Grade: 7-ish. Batgirl has “historically” been the type of character who donned the cape and cowl by her own calling, inspired by Batman’s example. She didn’t always have direct contact with Batman, so it would have worked nicely in the Nolan-verse to have had someone pop up unsolicited to help out. Plus — and not to be sexist — but it would’ve gotten another girl into the mix. True, we had Catwoman in there, but she was one of three or four women in all of Gotham City, so another woman wouldn’t have hurt. And on that note…

2.) If Catwoman had decided NOT to return for Batman in the end? Grade: 8, but maybe a “10” on the bad-ass scale. Sure, her return to save Batman was a nice touch as it played on film, but It would have fit her character to always look out for number one and left Batman hanging in the end. Or maybe she could have saved him from Bane and then been outta there when he turned around again. They could have even had Bruce alone in that epilogue, where he just didn’t get the girl because she wouldn’t allow herself to be gotten. Would’ve been pretty cool.

3.) If Batman had died in the end. Grade: 5. I’m giving this one a middle grade because it’s been such a popular talking point since the release of “TDKR,” that the originality of the thought has gone away. Nevertheless, had Nolan actually killed Batman… it would have taken some serious balls. So, originality at this point in the game, months after the fact, low. Points for presumed execution, high.

4.) If the ultimate emotional climax had been Batman finding the man who killed his parents… and let him live? Grade: 10. This one’s a stretch and it takes a lot of ret-con work, but hear me out, because I’ve been thinking about it a long time now.

I’ve never liked — in these movies or any other circumstance — when Bruce Wayne’s killer had a name and a face. It felt so much more poetic to have the origin of this larger-than-life superhero came at the hands of a random, faceless, never-been-caught criminal. Making him a young Joker (as in the 1989 film) or even giving him a name at all (as in the comics and the Nolan movies) limits Batman’s mission. Again, it’s poetic. It doesn’t take much imagination to think Batman goes out every night, hoping to find That Man, knowing deep down that he probably never will.

So, let’s re-write the films. Remove the Joe Chill element from “Batman Begins,” which probably wouldn’t be thaaaaaaaat hard. It messes with that whole tie to the Falcone mob story, but they’re clever guys. They could find another way around that. The removal has no affect on “The Dark Knight,” so we’re clean there.

Obviously, most of “Rises” would have to be redone, but just imagine some storyline that somehow — beautifully, energetically, excitingly — leads up to a moment where Batman discovers that the killer of his parents is still alive. And someone knows where he is.

While we’re spitballing, let’s say this happens while Batman’s in the middle of handling the whole bomb-in-the-trapped-city danger, which was the central story in “Rises.” So Batman’s in the middle of fighting Bane and his cronies when — WTF? — my parents’ killer is still out there? He deals with the immediate/important problem, but then finds himself face to face with Joe Chill (sure, we’ll use that stupid name for now) (and it is a pretty stupid name; “Chill?” C’mon). And Batman has a chance to push Chill off a bridge or in front of a bus or let him die in an elevated train accident like Ra’s al Ghul.

And he doesn’t do it. He lets him live. Maybe he even kind of forgives him. Maybe he sees the guy is miserable and has been living in misery for all these years, dodging the cops and barely making ends meet. And Batman lets it go, for the first time in his life.

Call me sentimental, but that might have been pretty amazing. Some fans could have called “foul,” but it would have been unprecedented. Especially when it was done so perfectly as it is in my imagination, removed from the sweat and struggle of actually writing it.

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