When The Dark Knight Rises opens on July 20, it will mark the end of Christopher Nolan’s definitive Batman trilogy and Christian Bale will hang up the cowl for good. However, Warner Bros. have made it clear that they intend to reboot the lucrative franchise once again (possibly as soon as 2014), so the question remains: which director and star will be brave enough to follow Nolan’s work? And in which direction will they take the iconic character? The good folks over at the Los Angeles Times Hero Complex decided to have some fun with that idea, commissioning graphic artist Sean Hartter to design 15 different visions of a new Batman by some of the finest filmmakers in the world. The tongue-in-cheek imaginary reboots are alternately hilarious (Wes Anderson’s Alfred Pennyworth, the Life Nocturnal), fun (Brad Bird’s Mister Freeze’s Icy Revenge), plausible (Neill Blomkamp‘s Arkham City), silly (Hayao Miyazaki’s Bat Mite), awful (Catherine Hardwicke’s Batman: Moonlight), and TAKE MY MONEY NOW! (Ridley Scott’s Batman Beyond, Guillermo del Toro’s Batman).
Check out the posters for Hero Complex‘s Batman re-imaginings by Matthew Vaughn, Todd Phillips, Wes Anderson, Rob Marshall, Brad Bird, Guillermo del Toro, Ang Lee, Catherine Hardwicke, Guy Ritchie, Martin Scorsese, Hayao Miyazaki, Neill Blomkamp, Tim Burton, Zack Snyder and Ridley Scott below.
Matthew Vaughn’s “Batman: Mad City”: Maybe the future of Gotham is in the past? That approach worked in a big way for Fox’s Marvel mutant franchise, which was losing its mojo before “X-Men: First Class” found a retro energy that managed to channel both Jack Kennedy and Jack Kirby. How great would it be to see “First Class” director Matthew Vaughn and star Michael Fassbender jump over to the DC Universe to give us a Bruce Wayne of the “Mad Men” era that might sync up nicely with Darwyn Cooke’s vintage vision of the caped crusader in comics?
Todd Phillips’ “Dude, Where’s My Batmobile?”: After the grimmer-than-grim Nolan films, maybe we could all use a laugh. When Batman (Bradley Cooper) goes on vacation, his housesitter, Billy “Matches” Malone (Ashton Kutcher) decides to smoke up and take the ultimate joyride at the wheel of the Batmobile — but what happens when the villains of Gotham City mistakenly think the affable pothead is the real caped crusader? With Dwayne Johnson as Killer Croc, Zach Galifianakis as the Penguin, Emma Stone as Barbara Gordon and Elisha Cuthbert as Harley Quinn.
Wes Anderson’s “Alfred Pennyworth, the Life Nocturnal”: Hey Gotham City, why so serious? Bill Murray stars in this quirky, existential Wes Anderson film about the aging manservant who keeps an eye on the demons and delusions of a billionaire recluse named Bruce Wayne (Luke Wilson) who likes to wear a cape and pretend he is a masked vigilante. The film also stars as Danny Glover as Jim Gordon, Gweneth Paltrow as Selina Kyle, Jason Schwartzman as Dick Grayson and Owen Wilson as Harvey Dent. Gene Hackman makes a cameo appearance as the ghost of Thomas Wayne.
Rob Marshall’s “Gotham!”: Oscar-nominated “Chicago” director Rob Marshall takes the caped crusader into truly new territory: a musical. Yes, that’s right, after Spider-Man’s huge Broadway success, why not give the world another singing superhero. Hugh Jackman, star of stage and screen, will win you over as he saves the day in this stylized, high-energy adventure that also stars “Sweeney Todd” star Johnny Depp as the Joker, pop diva Beyonce as Catwoman, “Hair Spray” costar Zac Efron as Dick Grayson and “Dick Tracy” costar Mandy Patinkin as Commissioner Gordon. The soundtrack features catchy tunes like ”Crime Alley,” “Batarang, Batarang” and “The Joke’s on Me.”
Brad Bird’s “Mister Freeze’s Icy Revenge”: Christopher Nolan mapped the darkest corners of Bruce Wayne’s psyche and Gotham itself – now Brad Bird bravely goes in a bold, brighter direction with a James Bond-influenced and Pixar-informed adventure, “Mister Freeze’s Icy Revenge.” Bird directed one of the smartest superhero films ever with “The Incredibles” and his first live-action feature film, “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol,” delivered high-altitude thrills and explosive box office. Bird famously loves old James Bond films so he’s the perfect choice to bring gadgets and a sly wink to the Batcave, especially with star Timothy Olyphant, who on “Justified” has shown that vendetta justice can be done with verve.
Guillermo del Toro’s “Batman”: Bruce Wayne created his fearsome Batman persona to scare criminals (a “superstitious and cowardly lot”) and through the years in the comics he has run into true creatures of the night. That legacy now reaches the screen as Guillermo del Toro ( “Pan’s Labyrinth,” “Hellboy”) veers away from Christopher Nolan’s grounded Gotham to present a spooky city where the occult and dark science mix in the shadows. Jonathan Rhys Meyers, with his haunted eyes and dark charisma, is the title character and he’s got all he can handle with Hugo Strange (Ben Kingsley) and Man-Bat (Doug Jones) — not to mention Jim Corrigan (Michael C. Hall), a murdered cop who won’t stay dead.
Ang Lee’s “Wayne Manor”: The director of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” can certainly handle the fight sequences in super hero film but the real surprise with this project is that he brings his “Sense and Sensibility” side to it as well. In this tale, dark and dangerous secrets kept in the ballrooms (and bedrooms) of Gotham’s elite society. An anachronistic film with a strong steam-punk vibe, “Wayne Manor” shows the dangerous liaisons of the black-tie (and the black cape) crowd. The cast: Eric Bana as Bruce Wayne, Alan Rickman as the Scarecrow, Brian Cox as Rupert Thorne, Josh Lucas as Harvey Dent, Jennifer Connelly as Vicki Vale and Michelle Williams at Selina Kyle.
Catherine Hardwicke’s “Batman: Moonlight”: After the sensation of the “Twilight” saga, the dark romance moves in Gotham City as Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and director Catherine Hardwicke reunite to create the most romantic Batman ever. Star reporter Vicki Vale (Stewart) roams the shadows of a dangerous city looking the scoop of a lifetime — the secret identity of the caped crusader called Batman. It turns out to be a story she can never write after she falls in love with Bruce Wayne (Pattinson), but she can she save him from the creatures of the night? Costarring Peter Facinelli as Ras Al Ghul, Taylor Lautner as Bane and Anna Kendrick as Catwoman.
“Gotham by Gaslight”: Director Guy Ritchie found his biggest commercial success when Warner Bros trusted him to make a high-energy version of an iconic detective. Now the studio hands him an even bigger job: replacing Christopher Nolan. Ritchie makes a bold choice to loosely adapt “Gotham by Gaslight,” the graphic novel that re-imagined Bruce Wayne as a Victorian age adventure hero. Ritchie brings along his “Sherlock Holmes” stars but this time they go head-to-head on screen with Jude Law as Batman and Robert Downey Jr. as the Joker, a.k.a. Jack the Ripper. Kate Beckinsale plays Selina Kyle while Brendan Gleeson is Oswald Cobblepot and Martin Freeman is James Gordon.
Martin Scorsese’s “Caped Fear”: The acclaimed director delivers a “Shutter Island”-style thriller as Batman (Jim Caviezel) is trapped in a Gothic castle by three of his greatest foes. To make matters worse, he’s pumped full of fear toxin that melts the lines between nightmare and reality. Even if the hero survives, will he regain his sanity after the madhouse moment of meeting his dead parents (Jon Hamm and Michelle Williams)? With Joe Pesci as the Penguin, Steve Buscemi as the Scarecrow, Leonardo DiCaprio as the Riddler and Nick Nolte as Dr. Jeremiah Arkham.
Hayao Miyazaki’s “Bat Mite”: The world-class dreamer of Studio Ghibli takes the Batman mythology into a strange and wonderful new direction with the tale of Bat Mite, a magical imp who is tethered to the life energy of Bruce Wayne and lives inside a giant penny in the Batcave. When the billionaire sleeps, Bat Mite goes on patrol in Gotham collecting the tears of orphans and protecting them from harm. When King Tut learns the magic power of those tears, Bat Mite becomes his quarry. The English version features voice actors Jamie Bell as Bat Mite, Matt Damon as Bruce Wayne, Tommy Lee Jones as Killer Croc, Jeremy Renner as Killer Moth and Elton John as King Tut.
Neill Blomkamp‘s “Arkham City“: Before the breakthrough success of “District 9,” South African filmmaker Neill Blomkamp hoped to bring “Halo” to the screen with producer Peter Jackson, but that project fell apart. Now Blomkamp, a lover of gaming, turns to another iconic video game to adapt for this film starring Joe Manganiello (“True Blood”) as Batman. For Warner Bros., it makes perfect sense to turn away from comics and look at red-hot video games as the next fertile ground for source-material mythology and marketplace synergy. The film also stars Adrien Brody as the Joker, Michael C. Hall as the Riddler and Stanley Tucci as Hugo Strange.
Tim Burton’s “The Dark Knight Returns” Long before Christopher Nolan set foot in the Batcave, iconic director Tim Burton made Hollywood history with two Gotham City films. Now he returns with a film that adapts the landmark Frank Miller mini-series “The Dark Knight Returns” that finds Batman (Michael Keaton) returning from retirement for the final battle with his arch-enemy, the Joker (Jack Nicholson). Also starring Chloe Moretz as Carrie Kelly, Michael Douglas as Superman, Helena Bonham Carter as Selina Kyle and Jeff Bridges as Oliver Queen.
Zack Snyder’s “World’s Finest“: Producer Chris Nolan and director Zack Snyder are bringing Superman back to the screen in 2013 and that sets the stage for this 2014 film — the ultimate superhero pairing and a way to ease Batman into a DC on-screen universe where other heroes exist. Gerard Butler (Snyder’s “300″) stars as Batman, Henry Cavill returns as Superman and the two better find a way to work together with Lex Luthor (Bryan Cranston) and the Joker (Jackie Earle Haley) on the loose.
Ridley Scott’s “Batman Beyond”: After three decades, Ridley Scott has returned to sci-fi with ”Prometheus” and now keeps it going with”Batman Beyond,” an adaptation of the well-regarded animated series. Scott’s favorite leading man, Russell Crowe, portrays the aging Bruce Wayne while rising star Josh Hutcherson is Terry McGinnis, a brash young street kid who finds himself wearing a high-tech battle suit as the protege of the still-fierce hero of Gotham City. Sigourney Weaver reunites with her “Alien” director to play Commisioner Barbara Gordon and her “Avatar” co-star Stephen Lang is Derek Powers, the tycoon who takes control of Wayne Enterprises but is destined to become the radioactive menace called Blight.