Tuesday, October 26, 2010

For Your Consideration: Batman 3

Dear Mr. Christopher Nolan,

I hope this letter finds you well and not too stressed. As I've been surfing around the internet (certainly not at work, nope), I've seen plenty of articles insinuating that you're getting ready to tackle the third part of your Batman trilogy. I'm trying to contain my excitement, but it's not really going so well. Every time I hear a rumor being spread around both the trashy and legit sites online (Eddie Murphy as The Riddler! Cher as Catwoman!), the nerd inside me gets a little anxious.

I absolutely love what you've done with the Batman series so far, so I trust that whatever you do for the next movie will be Bat-awesome. I can't believe how excited I am for even the viral marketing campaign to begin again. Sheesh. But as long as people are going to be tossing around casting rumors, I'd like to throw some names around, too, damn it! I grew up watching Batman: The Animated Series, read a ton of Bat-verse graphic novels, and spent part of this year's Comic-Con going through tubs of old DC Comics so I could find a Catwoman comic series. So, trust me when I tell you I'm a Batman fan to the core.

Just because the brutal and gorgeous Tom Hardy has allegedly been linked to a lead role in the upcoming Batman 3 movie doesn't mean the villains for the film are all set. Whoever Mr. Hardy plays (even new Hardy fans can see the man has the chops to pull off Croc, The Penguin, Hush, or Black Mask), word on the street is that casting is still ongoing for other leads in your film. I read a report just this morning that you, Mr. Nolan, were looking at potential lead actresses.

Seeing as how you have already stated in the press that there will be no Riddler, no Mr. Freeze (bravo) and you're not going to replace Ledger as The Joker (quadruple infinity bravo), I'm thinking you also might not be looking to cast Harley Quinn. If she's in your movie, though (who knows -- she could be an obsessed fan, an undercover henchwoman working as a psychologist, the list goes on), I hope you find the right actress who embodies Harley's moxy.

One villain's name get thrown around a lot on the interwebs, so let me humbly submit my own casting selections for the most-discussed supervillain.

Selina Kyle - "Catwoman"

Mr. Nolan, I know you like to work with familiar (and very talented) faces. Perhaps that's why it seems like Marion Cotillard is everyone's first choice to play Selina Kyle? Uh, Ms. Cotillard is amazing and beautiful...but can I be honest with you, Mr. Nolan? I think she would be pitch-perfect as conflicted, tough Talia al Ghul, if you're looking for a Talia.

Selina Kyle is a tough situation, Mr. Nolan. Michelle Pfeiffer played the hell out of her in Batman Returns, and no other actress can truly live up to that, even if the greatest actress around (whom I will mention below) played Catwoman. Essentially, in whatever direction you could go with the Kyle character, you can't beat Pfeiffer. You can only strive to be on the same level of awesome as she. That said...

1. Why haven't I heard any mention of Cate Blanchett as Selina?! Is there some kind of conspiracy I don't know about, whereupon people are trying to sabotage this film through lack of Blanchett mentioning?! Well, let me fix that right now.


Obviously, she's a tremendous actress and the best choice for Catwoman. Unlike Charlize Theron and Rachel Weisz, Cate Blanchett is popular with lady moviegoers as well as men. Catwoman needs to have sass and she can't be a pushover; she has to be the type of character that exudes confidence while throwing out crackling one-liners. She has to hold her own against Batman, and whereas younger actresses might get lost in Bale's shadow, Cate will clearly go toe-to-toe with him.

(A brief digression, Mr. Nolan...would you please talk to Mr. Bale about his, um, you know...his...Batman voice? Don't get me wrong -- it should be growly! I totally agree. But maybe if he could, I don't know, take it down a notch? Even better, could you have Catwoman tell him to take it down a notch?! One sure way to stop all the haters -- please tell me y'all are aware of this -- is to just address it slyly in the movie and move on.)

Aaaaaanyhoo. I don't care how you slice the character...hold on. Yes, I do care. On behalf of females everywhere, Mr. Nolan, DO NOT MAKE SELINA KYLE A PROSTITUTE. Catwoman-as-thieving-socialite is tons of fun, but if you're looking to make Selina "grittier," please avoid all the sexist comic book trappings of her character. What I'm saying is, if you feel you must make her a prostitute, then for heaven's sake let the woman pull herself up. The last thing we female comic fans (we exist, I promise) want to see is another lady who needs a man to save her. Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne should be equals.

Also, Cate Blanchett even looks like a cat.

2. If Cate Blanchett has other film obligations, I will shed a single, silent tear. And then I'll suggest Kate Winslet, who can definitely also pull off the head-bitch-in-charge vibe while retaining likability. And if Kate's also busy, you might want to knock on Robin Wright Penn's door.

3. The young Zoe Saldana could also hold her own against Bale and Hardy. Observe her fierceness while just walking down the street. And now observe her fierceness while strolling down the red carpet:

You've come a long way from Center Stage, madame. Zoe's been kicking ass in big movies, but her only smash hit to date has been Avatar. Your script, Mr. Nolan, I'm sure would give Saldana the opportunity to sink her teeth into a complex character.

Hey, while we're on the subject of women and your films, can you not kill a woman in Batman 3? I realize this is a great catlyst for a character's emotions; losing someone you love makes you feel like you lost a part of yourself. But it gets a teensy weensy frustrating when, as a woman, I see women used as props to justify male character's emotions. Repeatedly.

You're my favorite director, so it feels extra uncomfortable to see the same old gender problems pop up so obviously in your films. I'm not asking for an epic feminist superhero tale (I'll write that myself, thank you) -- I realize this is Batman. But I'm asking for you to keep pushing yourself to be careful with your female characters. I would like to be able to tell my friends that your movies pass the Bechdel Test:

1. Have at least two women in your movie
2. Have them talk to each other
3. Have them talk to each other about something other than a man

I appreciate the steps you're taking to put capable females onscreen. And I remember telling everyone how great it was when I read an interview with Maggie Gyllenhaal where she talked about how you wanted to make sure you created the best female lead possible. Now, all you have to do is just stop killing them off (women-in-refrigerators style) and have them talk to each other, and you're all set.

If, for some reason, there isn't a kick-ass woman character in your next film...might I suggest you remake the following short and put it at the end of the credits? As a gift to the fans? It's fun, it leaves the series on a hopeful note for Bruce Wayne's character, and it's just plain ol' satisfying.

See ya in theatres, Mr. N!

-- VC