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A ‘Knight’ sequel no-brainer

Times Staff Writer

Hero Complex is a new blog from Calendar staff writer Geoff Boucher that chronicles the world of genre films, graphic novels, science fiction and fantasy. This item and others can be found at latimes.com/ herocomplex.

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An open letter to Christopher Nolan:

Dear Chris,

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Congratulations on the avalanche of rave reviews for “The Dark Knight” as well as this staggering box-office success that’s unfolding right now. It is, in my opinion, the best comic-book movie ever, and I’m genuinely happy for you and your team. Now, though, you have a big problem: What can you possibly do for an encore?

Warner Bros. wants to keep this gravy train running, especially since “Harry Potter” is moving toward a franchise expiration date and the fact that Bryan Singer’s Superman reboot fizzled. But where should you start? That’s easy: Call your best wardrobe designers and have them start envisioning Oscar winner Angelina Jolie in Catwoman’s black-leather body suit. (What about the recent birth of her twins, you say? No problem. I’m guessing that new-mom Jolie will be back in lean, cat-suit shape by, oh, next week or so.)

I’m not sure anyone can actually top Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker (and you don’t dare bring any other actor in to portray the Joker) but it would be catnip to fanboys everywhere if Jolie was lured to your Gotham to be Catwoman opposite Christian Bale’s Batman. And frankly, you have some serious limitations on where else to turn for your next Bat-baddie.

When I visited with you a few weeks ago at the Warners lot in Burbank, you told me that the franchise was best served by villains without supernatural or wild science-fiction origins. That eliminates Man-Bat, Mr. Freeze, Bane, Killer Croc and Clayface, as well as Poison Ivy’s large-scale, killer-shrub tricks. Maybe you could turn to Hugo Strange and his monster men; they have some science-fiction elements, certainly, but the lurching, feral monster men wouldn’t require the big CGI scenes that you’re trying to avoid in your taut crime films. And, as one of the very first Batman villains (Detective Comics No. 36, way back in 1940, pre-dating the Joker), Strange would dovetail nicely with your push to take the hero back to the unsettling spook-show qualities of his earliest incarnations. If you do go Strange, how about handing the lab coat and spectacles to Ben Kingsley, who showed in “Sexy Beast” that he can match anyone’s glower?

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What other villains? I know we won’t be seeing a flame-throwing umbrella: You mentioned when I saw you that the Penguin is “not very interesting” to you and the sour look on your face summed up your disdain for the waddling Oswald Cobblepot. I guess you could go with the Riddler (maybe Eddie Izzard, who has untapped menace beneath his eyeliner?) if you jettisoned the lime question-mark suit.

The best option seems to be Catwoman and the best Catwoman seems to be Jolie. Hey, maybe you’ve already got the litter box ready: I caught that quick line in “Dark Knight” about the danger that cat claws pose to the crevices in Batman’s body armor. Nice.

Thanks for listening and, again, congrats on “The Dark Knight.”

One last thing: If for some reason Halle Berry’s agent starts clogging up your voice mail with messages, don’t bother returning the calls.

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Just trust me on that one.

Sincerely,

Geoff Boucher

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McG: 1982 was best summer ever

Has there ever been a better time to wear a cape?

“The Dark Knight” just blew away the box-office record for a single weekend. And Thursday is the formal opening of Comic-Con International in San Diego, an event that last year brought more than 100,000 fans to the seaside city for a massive celebration of pop culture.

Hollywood is going south in a big way, with major stars and sneak peeks for big-budget projects such as “Watchmen,” “Land of the Lost,” “Terminator Salvation,” “The Spirit” and “The Day the Earth Stood Still.”

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Fans of comics and science fiction must be feeling as if they are at the very center of mainstream cinema fare these days. This has been the most crowded genre-film summer in history with a parade of heroes -- Batman, Iron Man, Hellboy, Indiana Jones, Hancock, Prince Caspian and the assassins of “Wanted” -- along with the gentle sci-fi tale “Wall-E.”

There’s more coming, too, with “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and the new “X-Files” film.

It’s the biggest genre-film summer ever, but is it the best? The answer is no, according to director McG, who will be at Comic-Con to show fans footage from “Terminator Salvation,” which stars Christian Bale and reboots the killer-robot movies made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“I still think it’s got to be 1982. That one summer was just amazing,” says the filmmaker, who is also the executive producer of the television shows “Chuck” and “Supernatural.” “This one is great, but you look at the movies and that one was better.”

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Decide for yourself: The summer of 1982 had “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” “Blade Runner,” “Tron,” “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan,” “Mad Max 2,” “John Carpenter’s The Thing,” “Conan the Barbarian” and “Poltergeist.”

“Definitely 1982,” McG said after rereading the list. “Can you believe all those came out in, like, two months?”


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