Comic Adaptation Week: Michael Mann's Batman
When the first ten minutes of The Dark Knight made their way onto the internet and it was sorta just a straight rip of the bank robbery in Heat, it sorta justified my thinking that a Michael Mann-helmed Batman movie would be perfect. It wouldn't gross as much money as Nolan's and it'd be way more polarizing but it would be a better better for sure. Where most of our ideas have been rejections of Hollywood's dark variation on the comic book hero, Michael Mann's a director who could bring that kind of hyper-modern, brooding to Batman and make it work.
His Batman would be an adaptation of the Loeb/Sale trilogy--Long Halloween, Dark Victory, and yes, Catwoman: When In Rome. For Mann, that Catwoman tale would be just as important, as there's always this contrasting focus in his films on women. Catwoman/Selena plays a prominent part in Dark Victory and her absence is felt by Batman/Bruce (think of the romantic longing in Thief or Miami Vice or Public Enemies) and Mann could easily weave Selena's time in Rome into a rather epic story of Gotham city. All Mann movies have these kind of weird, "why is this in here?" tangents to them, and this one would provide greater characterization to Bruce's relationship to the women in his life--something every Batman movie's failed to do.
Mann is a Chicago director and though Nolan kinda already based his Gotham on Chicago, Mann is also an internationalist, and could provide a great deal more sensitivity to the portrayal of the fictional city. Think of how low-rent Mann made Chicago look in Thief, or how epic Los Angeles appears in Heat, or how smoothly he translates between the glitz of Miami and the near-third-world-ness of its trailer parks--it's the kind of all-over-the-place, multi-layered urban life, one that bleeds into one another quite easily, that Mann excels at portraying.
Most importantly though would be Mann's ability to inject some real character and feeling into the Batman character. There's too much pseudo-stoic, gruff talk in the Batman movies. Batman can't talk like Bruce Wayne, I got it, but that it always comes out like a guy doing a tough-guy voice is ridiculous. One of the best aspects of Mann's movies is his ability to understand the roles people, especially men, play and the way that person's "reality" seeps through to their "character" in one way or another. Nearly every Mann character's already doing the Batman thing, they all talk like ridiculous hard-asses, but when it comes to the drama, the real acting, when they've been betrayed or fucked-over or had their heart broken, he allows them to subtly shift, not do a 180, and it's all the more affecting because you see and hear the cracks in the armor. Obviously, Colin Farrell in wounded Sonny Crockett mode would be Batman.