In his LA Times interview, Christopher Nolan reiterates that not only is his Batman living in his own universe, but that so would his Superman.
This is wrong.
Look, I don’t want to tell the guy who directed the (now) third biggest movie of all time how to do his job, but walling off these characters is pointless. If there’s one thing that we’ve learned from decades of comic books it’s that playing in a big, shared universe isn’t just fun, it’s profitable.
I get where Nolan is coming from. His Batman standing toe to toe with Superman would be weird. What he doesn’t seem to get is that this is great. It should be weird. It should be weird for both of them. And it should be a way of exploring these characters further by looking at how they react to others, and how they react to situations far beyond them. You have to be careful not to break these characters, as has happened to them when misused in comic book crossovers, and Batman probably should never go toe to toe with Darkseid. But to have Batman live in a larger universe where there are others who do what he does – but in very different ways and often with the aid of superhuman powers – redefines him in an interesting light.
Even if Nolan is going to be really precious about sharing his Batman, the fans love the illusion of a larger universe. I remember walking out of Batman Forever fucking buzzing because they namedropped Metropolis in the film. Sometimes this kind of fan service can be ridiculous, but sometimes it can be really fun and intriguing. And as Marvel Studios proved with Iron Man even a quick cameo can have the fanbase excited in major ways.
Which is why Nolan, if he wanted to be a team player at Warner Bros (and there was a rumor floating two weeks ago that WB wanted him to not only godfather Superman but also Justice League) should let Lucius Fox show up in Green Lantern. The fanwank of it is simple: Hal Jordan, test pilot for Ferris Aviation, walks in on a meeting where Lucius Fox of WayneTech is showing Carol Ferris the latest design in stealth technology or something. It’s small, it’s simple, it doesn’t have Batman shaking hands with Green Lantern himself, and it’s easily ignorable.
Most of all it’s fun. It’s the kind of thing that lights up the fanbase. It’s not overly pandering. It’s a big Easter Egg for those who care to pay attention. And it opens the door just a little bit that maybe we could see something larger, something more overarching, in the future.
So loosen up, Nolan. Tear down these walls around Gotham City. Accept the fact that sometimes letting other people play with your toys is kind of liberating.