Batman Hot, Superman Not

The latest blog entry from Variety columnist Anne Thompson covers her meeting with “The Dark Knight” director Chris Nolan over Christmas where it was revealed that Warners is so happy with the upcoming “Batman Begins” sequel that they’re seriously aiming to get Nolan back to do a third Batman feature.

Whilst the trailer last month played up the visual effects and The Joker (Heath Ledger), Nolan says the film is “character-driven PG…that way The Joker has to be really scary without resorting to real violence.” Nolan also confirms that district attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), who can only be glimpsed for a split second in the trailer, is also a key player in the movie.

More surprising though is the article also states that it is “highly unlikely” that Bryan Singer will return to shoot the next “Superman” movie. Despite net rumblings that the “Superman” sequel is on track for June 2009, it seems that Warners still has its priority set on its “Justice League” project which will likely not be shot until after the WGA strike is resolved.

The fate of a “Superman” sequel remains in question. Singer’s schedule is rather crowded for the immediate future so his removal from the project may free it up for someone to move in quickly with their own take. Unfortunately a script doesn’t exist either, original ‘Returns’ scribes Mike Dougherty and Dan Harris are already confirmed to not be returning and no replacements have yet been set.

Despite having contracts for two further films with many of the ‘Returns’ cast, the disappointing box-office and mixed reaction to that film may lead the studio to try a second reinvention – much like what is being done this year with “Hulk” and “The Punisher” – and use whoever they cast as Superman in ‘League’ to portay the Man of Steel.

If the strike drags out well into the year, the ‘League’ movie would likely be delayed a year to the Summer 2010 release slot. With a third “Batman” a more pressing priority than a ‘Returns’ sequel (especially if, as its expected, ‘Knight’ should do killer box-office), it would take a Summer 2011 release date. That means a Superman solo movie could be as far away as 2012.