Believe it or not, another Batman movie is hitting the theaters. Industry observers are hoping that The Batman will bring moviegoers back to in-person movie watching as the COVID pandemic ends and mask mandates are lifted. (If you’re interested–I’m not!–you can read a review of the film here.)
Seriously . . . another Batman movie? That statement, by itself, is an irrefutable indictment of the lack of creativity and risk-taking in modern Hollywood. The same story, with the same familiar cast of heroes, sidekicks, and villainous characters–this movie apparently includes Alfred, the Riddler, the Penguin, and Catwoman, for example–has now been told and retold countless times, just in the last few decades. Virtually every actor in Hollywood has played either Batman himself or one of his evildoers, and we’ve seen numerous depictions of the dark, brooding, crime-ridden Gotham City. Will the Batman remakes ever end?
Either Hollywood legitimately believes that the saga of Bruce Wayne is the most riveting story ever conceived, or it believes that big-budget remakes of the same story, over and over again, will dependably, safely draw a good crowd of moviegoers and allow the movie studio to recoup its enormous investment. As fascinating as the tale of a fabulously rich cowled crime fighter might be, I’m guessing the second reason is the real one. We’re fated to see Batman, and Spider-Man, and other superhero movies until people stop going to see them and send a clear message to Hollywood that we actually want to see something new and different where, perhaps, the main character doesn’t wear tights or exhibit superpowers. And the moviemakers may legitimately argue that you can’t fight the box office returns, which show that moviewatchers are perfectly content to mindlessly watch the latest Batman.
The prevalence of Batman and Spider-Man movies makes you wonder whether the surprise movies that become huge hits–movies like American Graffiti or the original Star Wars, for example–would even get made these days, or whether every Hollywood dollar gets sucked into the remakes and churning out new content for the streaming services. The only way we’ll find out is if we stop going to see the latest Batman reboot and hold the studios to some requirement of actual creativity.
If you’d like to see something fresh and new in the theaters, vote with your feet: don’t go see The Batman!