Recently, there’s been a good deal of talk surrounding the new Batman vs. Superman movie. Much of this chatter has to do with the casting of Ben Affleck as the Bat. People are legitimately worried that we won’t be able to get the job done. I on the other hand, am worried for a different reason. I’ve never particularly been a fan of Batman vs. Superman director, Zach Snyder. I wasn’t too impressed by Man of Steel and I’m scared his new crossover will be a dud. Saying this, I thought of a fun way to express my misgivings via a short story involving characters from across the Batman film franchises. It’s random, pretty ridiculous, funny, and somewhat along the lines of A Christmas Carol. If you’re a fan of the Batman movies, this is for you. I hope you enjoy it and share it with your friends and single-handedly make me a millionaire. Just don’t let Zack Snyder read it, he might be ticked!
The Ghosts of Batman Past, Present, and Yet to Come
by Wade Bearden
Zack Snyder walked briskly through the warm summer night, turning towards a large cream colored building on the Warner Brothers lot. The tours were all finished and most of the employees were heading home for the weekend.
“I can finally get some work done, now that no one’s around to ask me about the new Batman vs. Superman movie,” Zack muttered. Ever since the studio announced that Ben Affleck was playing the Dark Knight, the media barrage had almost been unbearable for the film’s director.
As Zack trotted inside the large building where his office was located, he heard a faint sound. Before he was able to decipher the noise, an older gentleman gently lowered himself down from the ceiling with what looked like a cheap version of a Batarang. Instantly, Zack knew who it was. “Joel is that you?”
From the shadows emerged Joel Schumacher. Zach quickly recognized Joel as the director of both the Batman Forever and Batman & Robin films. Joel’s body was covered with dozens of Batarangs, much like the one he used to make his entrance.
“Zack, you’re making a big mistake!” Joel shouted. Each step he took produced a series of metallic sounds against the floor.
“What are you talking about Joel, and why are you carrying around those old props?”
“I’m not carrying them around!” Joel boomed, “They are my burden to bear. Each one represents a particular scene in my movies where a small metal object, implausibly launched onto a flimsy ledge, supported the weight of a grown superhero.”
Zack remembered these inadvertently funny sequences from Schumacher’s two Batman movies.
Joel continued, “You are about to fall into the same trap that I fell into when I made my films. You’re concentrating too much on style and not enough on substance.”
Zack was a little offended, “Well now, you can’t really compare my films to yours. They are very different.”
“They are different, but they both lack heart. You are on the verge of ruining Batman just like I did. To teach you a lesson, tonight you will be visited by three ghosts. The Ghosts of Batman Past, Present, and Yet to Come. They will attempt to show you the error of your ways.”
And with that Joel threw a smoke bomb on the ground before vanishing, leaving Zack to wonder exactly what had just happened.
Later that night, Zack found himself restlessly attempting to fall asleep. What could Joel’s statements mean? Everyone loved Man of Steel didn’t they? Isn’t wide-scale destruction what audiences really want in a summer blockbuster?
Suddenly, Zack’s bedroom began to shake and he found himself in what seemed like another world. A world, that had much in common with a Tim Burton movie. Unknown to Zack, he had in fact landed in a Tim Burton movie.
Then out of nowhere appeared three men. “The three ghosts?” Thought Zack. As his eyes focused on the subjects in front of him, he recognized Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, and George Clooney all in their respective Batsuits.
“So you’re the ghosts Joel told me about?” Zack said with a laugh.
“Actually, we’re the Ghosts of Batman Past.” Keaton answered.
Kilmer, just glad that a blockbuster director recognized him added, “There was a small mix-up and we were all invited.”
“So what do you you have to ‘teach’ me?’” Zach asked.
“Michael, why don’t you begin,” Clooney muttered with that sly grin of his.
Immediately, before Zack’s eyes, scenes from Batman and Batman Returns began to play out. Zack felt a sense of nostalgia. Sure, these movies aren’t masterpieces or anything, but they sure are fun.
Keaton turned to look at Zack, “This is where modern superhero movies began.” Zack watch Jack Nicholson strut by, followed shortly by Danny Devito and Michelle Pfeiffer. Then there was the Batmobile. What an iconic car!
Just as Zack was about to respond to Keaton, he felt a slight chill. Instantly, he noticed that ground beneath him had frozen into a thick sheet of ice.
“This is where I’m out,” laughed Keaton before heading into the darkness.
Before Zack appeared the looming figure of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Not just any Schwarzenegger though, Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze. “Technically, I should be out too, but what happened with Batman Forever led directly to this,” said Kilmer before being interrupted by Mr. Freeze.
“Stay cool everyone!”
Now it was Clooney’s time to chime in. “I’m still haunted by all the puns in Batman & Robin. I don’t know how my reputation got out of that one alive.”
“Yeah, I would have thought the nipple-batsuit jokes would have never ended for you,” joked Kilmer. Both actors turned to look at each other, but found it hard because the rubber costumes didn’t allow their heads to turn.
“We’ve been sent here to show you Zack, that the key to creating a great Batman movie is strong characters,” Clooney said as he tried to look Zack in the eyes. He still wasn’t able to turn his head.
“Not having molded nipples on the batsuit would also help,” Kilmer called as Zach felt the room spinning. When he was finally able to regain his surroundings, Zack found himself lying in bed. He initially thought he was dreaming, but soon noticed that the glass of water on his night-stand was completely frozen.
Zack flipped on the TV in his living room. He couldn’t sleep so maybe this would get his mind off of things. When the television flickered on, he noticed that The Dark Knight was playing. “Good, there’s no way I can have a nightmare about this movie.” Everything seemed perfectly normal, until a couple of minutes later.
Oddly, Christian Bale broke from his conversation with Alfred and began talking to the screen. Zack was confused, “I don’t remember this part of the movie.” Zack leaned in to to hear what Bale was saying, but he couldn’t understand a word. His voice seemed like a mix between a dog growling and computer synthesizer.
In frustration, Bale ripped off of his mask and said, “Zack, I’m talking to you. I’m the Ghost of Batman Present.”
Zack fumbled for the remote and hit the power button. Nothing happened.
“This isn’t something you can shut off,” Bale said.
“If you all don’t stop this, I swear to…”
“SWEAR TO ME!” Bale yelled.
“Okay, okay. Just calm down, we’re not on the Terminator set.”
Bale shook his head, “Just watch, I want to show you Batman through my eyes.”
The shot on the TV cut to the interior of a fancy house. On the counter in the kitchen stood a pile of letters. Christian Bale walked into the shot and picked up the stack.
“Do you know what these are Zack?” asked Bale.
“I have no idea.”
“These are letters from Batman fans all over the world. Let me read you a few.” Bale opened the top letter and began reading aloud.
“‘Thank you so much for creating the Dark Knight Trilogy, you made me believe in true love again.’” Bale opened another, “This one just says, ‘I believe in Harvey Dent.’”
Zack was confused, “What does all of this mean Christian?”
“What I’m trying to show you is that the last three Batman films connected to people. They had substance. They are ingrained into our culture conscious. Who else could play the joker now besides Heath Ledger?”
“Justin Timberlake?” Zack said.
“You see that pencil on your coffee table? I’m about to make it disappear.”
Just then a man walked into the room beside Bale. Though Zack could see him on the screen, the man had no idea either one of them were watching him. As he turned around, Zack saw that it was Christopher Nolan, the director of the Dark Knight Trilogy.
Bale paused momentarily before he speaking to Zack again. “Our Batman films not only changed cinema, but they also changed lives.” Upon that last line an older gentleman appeared in the room and greeted Nolan.
“You see, Batman helped Christopher Nolan find a father. Haven’t you noticed that Michael Caine has been in all of Nolan’s recent movies?” Bale questioned.
Then Zack realized the older gentleman was Caine. All of the pieces suddenly came together. Caine had adopted Nolan. Upon this realization, the TV began to flicker and a cloud of smoke engulfed Zack. “What’s happening?” Zack yelled.
“You’re being visited by the final Batman, Zack.”
“Are you coming with me?”
Bale smiled, “No Zack. I wouldn’t take $50 million to come with you.”
Zack found himself in a mostly deserted bar. He wasn’t sure who the third Batman was until he noticed a dark figure in the corner of the room. As Zack approached the hooded man, the stranger began to laugh.
“So we meet again,” the mysterious man snickered.
“Do I know you?” Zack asked.
“What, have you forgotten me now too?”
“If there is something I’ve done, please let me know and I’ll make it up to you.”
“Can you give me my life back? Can you? Because we know Superman can’t!” With that last phrase the stranger pulled of his hood and Zack found himself standing face to face with the Ghost of Batman Yet to Come. Ben Affleck.
“Ben, buddy. What’s wrong?” Zack was beginning to get frightened.
“What’s wrong? Well, it might be that I’m just a little bit angry about your failed crossover experiment. Maybe, I just can’t understand why you put so much effort into the visual effects that the story got lost along the way. It’s possible that I’m mad about becoming the scapegoat for your paper-thin characters.” With each new word Ben inched closer to Zack.
“Do you know what it’s like to live with my wife after making a comic book film worse than Elektra? You made Gigli seem like Argo. I can’t even walk down the street without some teenager calling me ‘Bat-ffleck.’ Two minutes ago, a drunk across the bar told me I should have gotten the insurance that pays when you’re out of work. You know what he called it?”
Zack hesitantly answered. “Bat…ffleck?”
“Complete with the duck voice and everything. I’m never going to be able to act in this town again! Damon won’t even return my calls. And it’s all because of you! Why did you do it? Why didn’t you concentrate on the characters? Why didn’t you create a memorable story?”
“Now Ben, I’m sure we can do something…”
“No. Now’s not the time to talk,” Ben grabbed Zack by the collar. “This isn’t a green screen Zack, this is real-life. This is your future. This is where you are headed.”
At that moment a group of burly bikers walked into the bar. A few of them noticed Ben in the corner and began shouting insults at him. “Not this again,” lamented Ben.
“Hey Bat-ffleck! Did the Batcave run out of loneliness tonight?”
“Where’s your other spandex boyfriend?”
“The good news is, I like Daredevil a lot more now.”
The bikers surrounded both Ben and Zack and began pushing them towards the wall. Zack decided to speak up.
“Gentlemen, can’t we…”
“Who are you? Robin?” One particularly large biker yelled. “How about we show the Bat and his sidekick how we feel about him ruining my favorite superhero. I used to wear the same pair of Batman underwear everyday as a kid.” With a push, Zack fell to the ground, his head spinning. As the bikers attacked Ben, Zack caught a glimpse of another lonely figure on the other side of the bar. He was dressed in old clothes and sat drinking his sorrows away. Then, this lost soul slowly turned his head to Zack. Zack recognized who he was instantly.
It was him.
“NO! NO!” Zack cried. “I’ll change! I’ll be different!” But all that could be heard now were the biker’s shouts and Ben’s intense sobbing as the room began spinning.
Zack suddenly awoke with a jump. He found himself back at his office on the Warner Brothers lot. Birds were chirping wildly and the sun was already up. Zack knew what he had to do. He stood up and raced wildly out of the door, almost bumping into one of his production assistants.
“Mr. Snyder, are you alright?” the assistant asked.
“Alright? I’m more than alright son. Are the writers here to work on the script?”
“Not yet sir. They’re on their way.”
Zack was emphatic now, “Here, take this twenty dollar bill and get them as soon as possible.”
“Yes sir, but umm, it doesn’t cost anything to direct them to your office.”
“It doesn’t matter! Oh, and while you’re out get a turkey for the family.”
Zack ran outside, shouting at the top of his lungs. As he did, a tour tram pulled up. The guide, quickly recognizing the famous director, announced over the loudspeaker, “Everyone give a quick wave to Zack Snyder, the man in charge of bringing Batman vs. Superman to the big screen!”
A changed man, Zack wanted the world to know about his new approach. He cried, “I’m a different person! I’m going to focus not just on style, but on the story. I’m going to have less fighting and more character development. I won’t let you down! I won’t let Ben down!” Zack raced back toward his office, he had new storyboards to prepare.
As he left, the tour guide smiled. It was the kind of smile that only one who overcame great pain could bear to give. He made one last announcement into his small microphone.
“God bless Zack Snyder.”
Near the guide sat a young boy, who, through most of the tour, had sat quietly, holding tight to his pair of old, worn crutches. The boy felt compelled to look down at the guide’s name tag. It read “Joel S.”
The boy smiled too before he too got caught up in the spectacle. Looking at Zack race away he quietly said,
“God bless us…everyone.”