When it comes to their modern movie situations, I realized this week that Sherlock Holmes and Batman share similar problems.
The train of thought started after discussing Man of Steel with a good friend of mine. Superman saves the world a lot -- he's Superman, so world-sized crises are right up his alley. Super-strength, super-speed, super-breath, super-vision . . . he doesn't have to actually figure out the solutions to problems, he just deals with them head-on. Invulnerability makes that an obvious choice.
Batman and Sherlock Holmes are thinking heroes, however. They're detectives. Batman has even been said to have trained under Sherlock in some versions of his history. They're guys who solve mysteries and catch the criminals no one else can catch.
But when it comes to movies, for some reason merely solving a mysterious crime and catching the perpetrator isn't enough. No, Bats and Sherlock have to stop cities from being destroyed. They have to stop the breakdown of civilization. Suddenly, when they leap to the big screen, these detectives suddenly have Superman-sized problems to deal with.
There was a time when Sherlock Holmes used to just deal with that big scary dog that threatened one guy who lived out in the country . . . and that was enough for a movie. Now it's mystics taking over Parliament or tree-shredding weaponers setting the world aflame. Even Jack the Ripper was just one serial killer with a knife and victims in the single digits, and that used to be a big movie for Holmes. Now he's expected to pull a Batman-sized load on the big screen, and even Batman is in a weight class so far above detective-work that he's constantly required to fly. How many more movies until Sherlock has to start flying every . . . oh, wait, Young Sherlock Holmes is rumored to be soon remade, isn't it? Flying Sherlock, here we come.
It's nice that Sherlock Holmes is in big movies these days, but a good writer and director could actually put together a worthwhile movie about Holmes for a very small budget. No special effects needed. No epic destruction. No massive cityscapes. A mystery story can be small and personal . . . of course that requires a little more skill. No need for Mycroft, Moriarty, or Adler. Just Holmes, Watson, and one person with a problem.
Just like Conan Doyle used to do it.