OPINION: Can THE BATMAN Win Over the General Audience? by Kris Burke

If you’re reading this, I’d say there is a 100% chance you’re a fan of Batman.

That means you’re probably 100% excited for Matt Reeves’ THE BATMAN coming to theaters in less than two years. Finally, there’s another solo Batman movie coming after what will be an almost decade long gap since THE DARK KNIGHT RISES hit cinemas in 2012.

Needless to say, fans are hyped up, but what about general audiences that are not obsessive Batman fans? You know, “Joe Moviegoer”?

Well, there’s a legitimate case to be made about “franchise fatigue” taking a toll on what THE BATMAN could do at the box office.

To us Batman fans, that might sound like crazy talk, but take off the fan hat for a moment, as hard as that sounds.

Robert Pattinson will be the third big-screen incarnation of Bruce Wayne in nine years (four if you want to count what amounts to a cameo in JOKER). That could wear on general audiences who still have Christian Bale and Ben Affleck still fresh on their minds.

Then there’s also the case of just too many movies featuring Batman in a short period of time. As I mentioned above, there hasn’t been a solo Batman movie in almost 10 years, but The Caped Crusader was very prominent in JUSTICE LEAGUE, and of course, BATMAN v SUPERMAN. I don’t need to recap how well (or not) those films played with the non-comic book fan audience.

Of course, there is the Batman-related JOKER that has set the box office ablaze which does prove the Batman brand is still strong; but sometimes too much of a good thing can be bad.

Just look at what’s happened to STAR WARS.

This is the challenge Reeves faces. He’s going to need general audiences if he wants his film(s) to reach the heights of THE DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY and maybe even higher. Batman fans are going to turn out regardless, but how does Reeves keep audiences interested and overcome any kind of Batman oversaturation?

Luckily, he seems to already be doing it.

Reeves is smart enough to know he’s going to need to make his Bat-films different. As Jett has been teasing via social media, Reeves appears to be creating a world that has a 1970s vibe while also remaining timeless. It appears to be a page out of BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES‘ book. That film had a 1930/40s aesthetic to it, but it also featured Batman using modern computer equipment.

This could be a stroke of genius by Reeves if he pulls it. It will look completely different, but also be familiar enough that people will still know it’s Batman.

Then there’s the style of film Reeves seems to be aiming for.

The director has said publicly he wants to tell “noir-driven detective story” involving Batman scouring Gotham City for clues to solve a crime. While we got hints of his detective skills in both the Christopher Nolan movies and in the Affleck films, we haven’t seen a full-fledged “World’s Greatest Detective” version on screen yet.

Different, but still Batman. Looks like Reeves knows what he’s doing.

Finally, there’s the cast.

Pattinson is a much different actor than Affleck or even Christian Bale, so it will be clear that this is a different version of Batman on film.

Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth and Colin Farrell as The Penguin both strongly hint at versions of the character not even close to what we’ve seen on film before yet still loyal to the essence of each character.

Reeves is well aware that there’s been a lot of Batman in front of the general public the last few years and thankfully, he seems smart enough to realize he’s going to have to change some things to keep “Joe Moviegoer” invested in the character and not bored — even with the character’s eternal popularity.

We’re still a ways away from filming commencing on THE BATMAN, but when it does and that first trailer hits, Reeves is aiming for a reaction of “Holy cow that’s cool!”…instead of “Not another Batman movie!” from audiences.

Judging by what we’ve seen so far, he’s on the right path.

In Reeves We Trust. – Kris Burke

Kris Burke was born and raised on two things: Batman and Green Bay Packers football. He was an extra in THE DARK KNIGHT and has a bachelor’s degree in radio/tv/film production. He’s also a staff writer over at Acme Packing Company covering the Green Bay Packers.  Follow him on Twitter @KRISBURKE.

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