Yesterday, news came down that Ben Affleck, the current cinematic Batman debuting in March 2016, will be co-writing a new, solo Dark Knight-centric film with DC Comics writer and Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns. With over 75 years in publication, and multiple exploitations in other media forms, it may be difficult to find a starting point on which a new, solo Batman film could be based. On the other hand, it may take just a simple glance at the body of work produced by the man who will likely be the co-writer of that film.
While Geoff Johns has been writing stories for DC Comics since 1999, his career hasn’t included a whole lot of Batman stories when compared to the characters he seems to gravitate towards. Johns had the difficult job of following up on writer Mark Waid’s seminal run on The Flash when he took over the book in the early 2000’s, and ended up with a run almost as revered by the time he concluded it in 2005. From there, Johns went on to do a great deal of world-building when he restored Hal Jordan to his proper place in the DCU, and stood as the architect of one of the most popular Green Lantern runs ever produced in that character’s long history. He also had a memorable run on Teen Titans — a book many told him wouldn’t work — also turning that franchise into a popular ongoing series in the most meaningful way since the landmark run in the 1980s by writer Marv Wolfman and George Perez, along with writing a string of very well-received Superman stories in Action Comics and the “New 52” Superman title.
Johns’ career hasn’t been completely devoid of the Dark Knight, though. Batman featured prominently as a quasi-antagonist in Green Lantern: Rebirth, appeared in memorable ways in his runs on The Flash and Teen Titans, and is, of course, one of the most prominent and featured characters in his ongoing run on the flagship DC title, Justice League. A new report, though, may point to another piece of his work that’s more Batman-heavy as the inspiration for the upcoming film.
According to THR, one of the primary places to look could be Johns’ two graphic novels encompassing Batman: Earth One. Releasing volume 1 in 2012 and volume 2 earlier this year, Batman: Earth One takes a decidedly more human approach to the portrayal of Bruce Wayne’s early years as a vigilante, with some stark differences when compared to the mainline DC Universe. In Earth One, Bruce Wayne has not gone around the world to gain a series of skills to use in his war on crime, makes some very serious mistakes when walking around a crime scene, and his gadgetry doesn’t always work the way that it’s supposed to. The series has also done a wonderful job in reconceiving certain characters, particularly Alfred the Butler, in a hardened yet refined way. In fact, the Alfred played by Sean Pertwee on Fox’s “Gotham” seems ripped from the pages of Earth One, as does an overall feel for Gotham City itself.
Still, we also know that Batman as he’ll appear in next year’s Batman v Superman will be partially inspired by the hard-edged Batman featured in Frank Miller’s seminal work The Dark Knight Returns from 1986, which may clash with the decidedly more human, conception Johns creates in Earth One. Still, the Earth One books have already proven to be ripe for exploitations in other media, and if you want an idea of what Johns and Affleck could do with the character in a solo film, it couldn’t hurt to at least read them.
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