The ‘3 rings’ of Batman

Aspiration, expectation, interpretation govern crimefighter

DC Comics published the first Batman comicbook in 1939, so it’s no surprise that the publisher has some pointers for filmmakers making a Batman movie.

“For us, it’s not about what you have to do but about what you can’t deny,” says Paul Levitz, prexy and publisher of DC Comics, which is owned by Time Warner.

The company has what it calls a circle of “three rings” that make up the Batman universe.

There’s the “aspirational experience,” which Levitz says consists of how people react emotionally to the Bruce Wayne character, his traumatic childhood involving the death of his parents and how that leads the billionaire to use his riches to fight crime.

“It’s all about making you feel that if you went through something traumatic, you’d rise to the challenge in the same way,” Levitz says.

The second ring: “You go to a Batman movie expecting certain moments,” Levitz says. “You expect to see the Batmobile, the Batcave, the Bat Signal, his utility belt, Batman swinging across Gotham City. That’s your wow.”

Another expectation is the prospect of seeing something that hasn’t appeared in other Batman outings. “There’s always the question of how do you give the audience something they haven’t seen before,” Levitz says.

The final ring deals with the creative interpretation that the director, writers and actors bring to the project.

“They each want to bring things that are unique, but they can’t fight the other rings of the circle,” Levitz says. “It would be unique to have Batman tripping over himself, but that wouldn’t be good.”

DC will remain largely hands-off during production of the new “Batman.”

“When you’re making a great movie, you need a great director who has a vision,” Levitz says. “You can’t stand behind a director’s shoulders with correctional glasses. Our job is to help, whether it’s to provide stories or to serve as a sounding board to talk about the creative issues.”

Levitz stresses that DC’s role is adviser. It doesn’t have final script approval.

“We’re all part of the same company and trying to achieve the same goal: a wonderful Batman film that will delight old fans and make new fans. So there’s no complicated contractual language ruling the creative process between us.

“… We have the right to be consulted, the right to warn. We’re happy to be part of the process. It’s just old-fashioned teamwork.”

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