September 5, 2011 Open Letter to the Coen Brothers Asking Them to Make the Next Batman Movie
Dear Joel and Ethan,
I realize Christopher Nolan is still shooting The Dark Knight Rises, but the New York Times reports that Warner Brothers is already “contemplating a new Batman series.” Given how quickly Marvel Entertainment is rebooting the Spider-Man franchise (Tobey who?), you should submit your project proposal ASAP. Even worse, Alex Pappademas in The New York Times Magazine put out an open call to all auteurs to please swoop down and rescue the superhero movie from the claws of Hollywood mediocrity. Woody Allen and Spike Lee are thumb-wrestling for Green Arrows‘s quiver as I type, so unless you want to get stuck with Aquaman, you better get moving.
First off, a low-brow pulp genre like the superhero is a perfect fit for your breed of violent high-brow tragic-comedies. And, frankly, you’ve played your hand as far as westerns and crime noir go. Time for a lateral leap. You could go with other 1930’s vigilante heroes (The Spider’s body count puts Dexter and the Punisher to shame), but nothing seethes nihilistic despair like the Dark Knight’s never ending war on criminals. You could ask Javier Bardem to play Two-Face, but I hear his thumb never recovered from all that coin flipping he did in No Country for Old Men.
If you’re rushed for time, submit the True Grit screenplay. But don’t forget to change all the “Rooster Cogburn” dialogue headers to “Alfred,” and “Mattie” to “Bruce.” And, what the hell, all the “LaBoef” to “Commissioner Gordon.” Don’t touch the synopsis though. Father pointlessly gunned down by two-bit criminal, child seeks revenge. (Mattie’s mother never appears, so as far as plot structure, she’s as dead as Bruce’s.) You’re going to need some scenes of Alfred (remember this is a period piece, so he’s a World War I vet) training little Bruce, slicing all that baby fat off his upper-crust body. But like Mattie, his motivation is internal. Alfred is just a means.
Don’t change the climax either. Mattie guns down her father’s killer and back she flies into an abyss-deep cave to be devoured by snakes. Only, you know, bats. It’s the batcave. Alfred can try to save him, can rush him to a hospital, Saint Somethingorother, but it’s too late for a redeeming act of love. His soul has fled. The epilogue is perfect, too. A couple of disappointing minutes with the one-armed spinster Mattie turned herself into. Like Bruce, the child did not survive her vengeance. Bruce’s bat costume is way cooler, but it’s the same act of self-mutilation.
Feel free to contact me if you need any further help. And should Scorsese or Coppola (Sofia or Francis) beat you to the punch, let’s talk Daredevil. That 2003 Ben Affleck travesty is begging for a reboot.