Movies & TV / Columns

The Problem With Writing Batman

October 26, 2020 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Batman Comic

Before I get into trouble with Tony Acero, let me say that I consider Batman one of the greatest characters ever created. He works in just about any scenario, any environment, any category, any…thing. 

But we’re talking about a character that was created in 1939. This is a character who is a linchpin to a comic book universe and a cinematic universe. Can anything be done with Batman that could change the character in a major way while keeping the core of who he is true?

Take the changes that DC has planned for January 2021. All the current ongoing titles will be paused and several new series will be launched that will set up a new status quo that’s set several years in the future as part of the now-revealed ‘Future State’ event.
“[‘Future State’] is a combination of two things. It’s an opportunity to tell some really exciting stories in the imminent future of Gotham City, and it’s an opportunity to work with a lot of really great, diverse creators. It’s a future look at things to come,” Batman group editor Ben Abernathy told website Newsarama. “For new readers, it’s an exciting, killer story. But it’s also a possible outcome for the titles in the modern-day line.”

Sounds interesting and it seems to be doing something new with the Batman mythos. Looking at it, a possible DC future has Gotham City being taken over by a shady law enforcement agency known as the Magistrate. 

“They patrol the streets using advance surveillance weaponry in the form of ‘Cybers’: robot law enforcement peacekeepers, who are the highest level of law in the food chain,” Abernathy explained. “I’ve joked internally that they’re the ‘Sith Lords’ of Gotham, and they basically patrol the streets and keep it ‘safe’ from all sorts of ‘masks’ – villain or hero. It is now illegal to be a masked vigilante in the city, and the consequences are dire.”

The head of the Magistrate is a man named Peacekeeper One. “Who he is, what he is… get a sense of that as the story progresses, but there’s one element to explore for years to come.” The hook is while under its control, all masked vigilantes (‘masks’ as they call them) have been outlawed, and Batman himself is presumed dead. In his place, a new group of heroes – led by an all-new Batman – have risen up to fight for justice.

Which is all well and good but questions are instantly raised by how this fits in the larger narrative of the DC universe?

At the end of the day, while this sounds….intriguing…we all know that things will go back to the status quo in a few months. Which brings us back to the problem of writing Batman. Things can only sway too far to one side or another. Which is something even DC knows. 
“My phenomenal editorial group and I mapped out a vision for a possible future for the Batline; where things could lie or go towards,” Abernathy said. “With the Bat group title, it’s definitely a look towards the future. How much of that future is true is uncertain, because decisions in the present can always change the future. On one hand, yes they’re great standalone stories but the seeds… wait, ‘Future State’ doesn’t plant seeds; it’s already crop-grown. The seeds are already planted; these stories will come to fruition in the main line.”

Did you get all that?

Bringing it back around, Batman is an icon, timeless, and will be around long after we’re gone. While DC will advertise “new and exciting” changes that promise to “change Batman forever”, we know the Bruce Wayne, who lost his parents as a child and dedicated his life to fighting crime, will continue his fight. 

And we would we want it any other way?

article topics :

Batman, Steve Gustafson