Amid excited talk about the Caped Crusader's sexuality, we're offered a glimpse of his next filmic exploits – and on-screen kiss
It's been an intriguing week for fans of Batman.
First up, the ever-attentive Mail Online raised the unlikely prospect that the caped crusader is about to be outed as gay by DC comics.
Then we got two new TV spots for Christopher Nolan's forthcoming The Dark Knight Rises and finally the first gander at the forthcoming animated take on Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, the debut part of which is due out in the autumn.
Guardian books blogger David Barnett has covered the Mail's spurious contention in detail here.
I suppose the one thing that can be said for shifting Batman's sexuality from a filmic point of view is that it might cast an entirely new light on the Joel Schumacher years.
Introducing Robin into the mix suddenly makes a lot more sense if you view the whole series through a homoerotic prism, and I did always wonder about George Clooney's batnipples.
Nolan's Batman has always appeared to me to be a deeply unsexy creation in any case, even while sporting an outfit seemingly custom-designed to send fetishists into apoplexies.
His Bruce Wayne spends more than enough time in the company of beautiful women, but up until now has only really had eyes for poor departed Rachel Dawes (and we all know how that ended up).
Apart from that he's far more focused on saving Gotham from maniacal villains than engaging in romantic encounters.
At least the new flick looks like adding some strong female figures into the mix, from Anne Hathaway's Catwoman to Marion Cotillard's Wayne Enterprises boardmember Miranda Tate.
The two new TV spots once again show Wayne kissing Tate, but there's also a fair share of banter going on with The Hathaway in both masked and unmasked (Selina Kyle) modes.
The second spot has confirmation that she even manages to steal Batman's car at one point, and we already know she ends up driving the Batpod for part of the film.
All in all, The Dark Knight Rises appears to have been given a serious oestrogen injection.
See the trailers here and here.
Miller's The Dark Knight Returns is well known for introducing a female Robin, but doesn't contain so much as a smidgen of romantic interest for Wayne, which probably explains why it never has been (and never will be) adapted for the big screen.
It also features Superman as an antagonist for Batman, which raises further problems for studio Warner Bros, at least until the arrival of The Man of Steel next year.
I'd put good money on the next Batman series going for a similar approach to that of Nolan: borrowing the best bits of the comics but forging something which translates more effectively on the big screen.
So for now, Warner's animated double-header is probably the best we're going to get, even if it won't make it to cinemas.
Newly-released stills suggest the flicks will stick closely to the look of Frank Miller's 1986 comic, which introduced a moodier, damaged, morally dubious and often downright selfish Batman.
The most exciting, and geek-friendly, announcement for me is that Robocop legend Peter Weller will be voicing the character.
As an aside, critics have often suggested that The Dark Knight Returns' darker tone influenced Nolan's take, but in reality the Christian Bale caped crusader is a far less egocentric creation.
The latest spots for The Dark Knight Rises confirm that the self-sacrificing instincts we saw in the previous flicks are pushed even further to the fore in the series finale.
That different writers see Batman in very different ways only goes to show how malleable a figure he can be without losing his essential characteristics.
The Dark Knight has become a vital and dynamic figure across so many different formats in the 73 years since Bob Kane and Bill Finger first created him in 1939.
Superman doesn't seem to have suffered overly, after all, from being outed as a Russian communist by Mark Millar in his Superman: Red Son saga for DC, and the arrival of a half-black, half-hispanic Spider-Man in one branch of the Marvel comic series did not cause the world to fall apart last year.
Whichever character DC decides to "out", they should take inspiration from Harry Potter creator JK Rowling, who revealed a few years back that Hogwarts' headmaster Albus Dumbledore was gay.
Rowling did not see fit to change anything else about the character, whatsoever.
Anne HathawayChristopher NolanSexualityComics and graphic novelsChristian BaleBen Childguardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies.
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