Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 'The Dark Knight Rises' (Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures)
Holy fanboy freak-out, Batman!
Comic book movie lovers were rocked late Monday evening when Drew McWeeny at HitFix.com published a story stating that his sources assured him that "The Dark Knight Rises" costar Joseph Gordon-Levitt would be returning to the world of DC Comics to play Batman in the massive superhero team-up movie "Justice League."
Hollywood.com checked with reps for Gordon-Levitt on Tuesday and they completely refuted the report. That the report has been denied shouldn't be a surprise -- it's early yet, after all. But that doesn't mean it won't eventually be true. After all, it was speculated back in 2011 that JGL would be playing Robin in "Dark Knight Rises," and that did (sort of) turn out to be the case.
It's no secret that Warner Bros., the Grand High Studio of franchises, is desperate for its own "Avengers." WB execs want a bunch of stand-alone superhero movies that lead up to one mega-superhero movie that could then branch off into even more stand-alone superhero movies. The template has worked (like gangbusters) for Marvel Studios, turning what was once considered "geek culture" into must-see mainstream entertainment (and making a lot of rich people even richer).
WB wants this to happen fast and have (rather hastily, but whatever) fast-tracked "Justice League," the mighty mashup featuring a handful of DC superheroes (some of which, like the Marvel heroes before them, have never had big-screen incarnations before) for 2015. Rumor has it that Zack Snyder's "Man of Steel," which hits theaters next summer, will be setting the groundwork for "Justice League" by introducing an expanded cinematic universe that will eventually include some of Superman's colleagues, such as Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash and Martian Manhunter (or whoever WB decides to recruit for this first go-round).
This potential casting makes sense, from a certain point of view. Christopher Nolan wasn't shy about letting the world know that "The Dark Knight Rises" was the last Batman story he'd be telling, and his specific character arc on the Caped Crusader was clearly coming to a close with poster taglines such as "The Legend Ends." But the very last shot of the film features John "Robin" Blake (Gordon-Levitt) entering the Batcave, setting the stage for a new masked protector of Gotham City. Having Gordon-Levitt play Batman in "Justice League" spares Warner Bros. the daunting task of having to introduce a brand-new Dark Knight so hot on the heels of Nolan's trilogy... and helps to justify (a little, anyway) that fast-tracked 2015 release date.
However, from another angle, JGL playing Gotham's defender in "Justice League" is highly unlikely... if Warner Bros. cares about staying true to the world that Nolan created. Nolan's take on the Batman mythos was most distinctive for its ultra-realistic approach, giving us a Dark Knight who would look right at home standing next to a Coke machine or Chase bank. Nolan's Bruce Wayne -- and, now, John Blake -- are men of our world. It's not a world that could really host the existence of a flying alien in a red cape or a man who can run halfway around the world in a matter of seconds.
We'll have to see how this all plays out. For now, first thing's first -- Warner Bros. has to successfully reboot a franchise that has inexplicably confounded them for decades. Expectations are high for "Man of Steel"... especially now that there's a possibility for a bonus scene featuring the Bat-signal after the closing credits. Or something. Maybe.
Watch Joseph Gordon Levitt and costars talk to Yahoo! Movies about 'The Dark Knight Rises':