Is there too much Batman?
Everyone loves Batman; that’s practically an unequivocal fact now with him taking over everything from the DC comics to the movies to TV series. He sells, he sells so much, but are we reaching the point where we’re oversaturated with the character? Can we truly have too much Batman?
DC just announced a weekly Batman comic starting in January and right now Batman has around ten comic titles at DC that he’s either starring in or an outgrowth of his books, has another animated show on TV, a number of animated movies coming out, starring in the Man of Steel sequel, and Jim Gordon’s getting his own TV series. He is DC and WB’s breadwinner, the one that brings in the most money no matter what. He’s had what’s considered both the worst and the best comic book movies and is allowed to continue on even if they lose money. Which is better than other franchises, if Green Lantern fails then clearly no one likes Green Lantern, if Elektra bombs then all female superheroes are unable to sell. Batman and Robin not only bombs but is considered one of the worst comic movies of all-time, the movie was just bad and we’ll try again.
That’s not universal to every Batman character though, there won’t be another Catwoman movie for another decade, and the Batgirl’s that aren’t Barbara Gordon are considered “toxic” for the comics because the current DC executives only want Barbara in the cowl despite there being multiple Robin’s and Batmen in the comics. Batman himself is the only one that is immune to any problem. He can have as many titles as they want; if one doesn’t sell they cancel it and try again. There can be as many different versions running around without anyone thinking it would confuse the audience while other characters aren’t afforded the same courtesy. But are things going too far?
The Superman/Batman movie is the arbiter of the worst that could happen. It does smell of Man of Steel not doing as well as the WB executives wanted so they decided Batman would sell a Superman film better. Now a Superman/Batman film will make a lot of money and is the best chance of WB competing with Marvel’s Avengers; but the announcement of it being a sequel to Man of Steel instead of just a major crossover film before they start on Justice League just feels cold.
There is also a rather unnerving part of the announcement where they quoted a part of the Dark Knight Returns comic just as Batman has beaten up Superman. It seems like the Batman Vs Superman movie that has been rumoured about for a decade might be happening rather than just a team-up. Instead of showing both of these great characters working together for the first time, showing why they’re the World’s Finest, it could turn out to be another ‘Batman beats the odds and can win against anyone’ story like so many Batman comics in recent times.
That’s been a part of the Batman problem for a while now. How the writers justify him being in the Justice League is his ability to win any fight, to take down any foe no matter how implausibly out matched he is. He just can’t lose and has become the most powerful being in the universe, yet somehow still the underdog. Superman has to be more human for people to like him yet Batman has to be more godly for fans to take him seriously now. The joke of him having everything he’ll ever need in his utility belt has now become a serious part of his character.
Because of that I believe the Superman/Batman movie is going to be about Batman beating up Superman for some justifiable reasons and showing how much better he is than him. Batman can never be wrong, never be the bad guy in these situations even though we’ve had multiple stories where Superman turns evil and must be taken down or be shown he’s been in the wrong all this time. If Batman goes evil then it’s about how much an awesome bad guy he’d be, or in the case of the Justice Lords episode of the Justice League cartoon he’s the only one of them to switch sides at the end. At this point with all the plots of Batman making plans to take down the League, and even every superhero on the planet. Him going rogue and trying to force his order on the world to make it a ‘better place’ with the rest of the heroes trying to stop him. That’d make for a more unique story than doing it with Superman, but we can’t cast Batman as the bad guy because he’s too big now. There’s no way the executives would approve of a game like Injustice if Batman was the main antagonist.
We might be only a few steps away from Batman appearing in practically every DC comic or WB thinking Batman should be in every DC movie. The animated movie line has already been deemed to just be Batman or Justice League movies starring Batman with the occasional solo Superman movie, anything else just doesn’t make a profit. The latest movie, JL Flashpoint was more of a Batman movie where the Flash drove the plot but had little to do once Batman showed up till the plot needed to be wrapped up. Could the same thing happen to the live action movies? Thankfully Arrow is doing very well, even if it seems a little more inspired by Batman, and there is going to be a Flash series spinning out of it. Hopefully those go well enough to make WB more confident with their other properties.
I like Batman as much as the next guy but I also like many other characters and think they shouldn’t be pushed aside for more Batman stories. We’re at the point where if they push Batman too much he’ll be oversaturated and then become worthless. Now that might be the push needed to let other characters take the spotlight, but before then we’d get some horrible stories where Batman gets ruined more and more. A Wonder Woman movie needs to be made, and the Flash, and any others who could hold down a film. At this point I’d settle for a Justice League movie where Batman isn’t the star, and also for WB to make a Batwoman movie while they’re on the Bat-train so we can get a good superheroine movie because I might as well hope for something good to come from this.
So we might be reaching our limit for Batman, we’ve got a team-up/Vs movie coming out, weekly comic series, and the latest cartoon series Beware the Batman might get cancelled after one season. Fans are speculating it’s because of oversaturation, that it’s mediocre, the ratings were low, Cartoon Network killed it like Green Lantern and Young Justice, that there was a girl sidekick rather than Robin, the toyline’s pathetic, and there were no classic villains in the show. My thoughts are that it’s probably not oversaturation just yet as the next movie isn’t even out yet. It’s not because of show quality since that hasn’t stopped other TV series being successful. The ratings aren’t the main source of income for an action cartoon, the merchandise is. I don’t think Cartoon Network would pick-up a show just to intentionally kill it; they just aren’t prioritising it because they’re focusing on comedy series right now. Robin not being in a show hasn’t hurt any Batman series that didn’t have him in at the beginning, which was most of the cartoons and movies. The toyline not selling and there not being any of the popular villains in that toyline are the key factor. But also the popularity shift from action cartoons to comedy is what’s really getting rid of the action cartoons at the moment. Which is a shame since it is a good series.
I’m hoping that means we’ll start getting other DC cartoons that don’t star Batman. Probably not since he is still the known seller so the executives will point to something in the show and say that was the problem, then try again. Since I’m cynical I’d say they’ll claim it was the female sidekick and that it wasn’t a comedy series; that does seem to be the way these things go. Batman will still keep going until something else proves to be profitable because as we’ve seen in the past even if it bombs they’ll still make more Batman. We have shown that we can never have enough Batman since we keep buying it. If you think there’s too much Batman out there then stop buying Batman stuff, simple as that.