Is there a standalone comic book movie more highly anticipated than The Batman? It’s been five years since the last standalone Bat-flick with 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises and fans need their fix. Thankfully, it seems we won’t have to wait for much longer. With Matt Reeves (fresh off of the Planet of the Apes trilogy) at the helm and Ben Affleck ready to go as the Caped Crusader, audiences can have faith in the right people having creative control over the project.
The question is, though how should the movie be done? With a new script being written, it’s unclear just what direction the project could go in. For instance, are they going to do a part-adaptation of a classic storyline, or go for something entirely unique and fresh?
All fans can do right now is simply theorize and make their own personal picks and predictions. Here, we’ve done exactly that, as we’ve taken a look at 10 possible directions that Matt Reeves can go in with the film so that both fans and casual viewers can get a truly great moviegoing experience that lives up to what The Dark Knight trilogy did – if not surpass it.
Read on for our suggestions and be sure to let us know what you’re hoping to see from The Batman by commenting below.
10) A Face-Off Between The Batman And A Childhood Friend
The story of Tommy Elliot is one that serves as a challenge geared more towards Bruce Wayne than Batman. A childhood friend of Bruce, Elliot grew up both obsessed and resentful of his billionaire-born best friend. After a stint in Arkham following a particularly violent act, he utilizes a unique method of causing distress for Batman and company to confront.
The Hush storyline is one that offers up the opportunity to go back to Bruce Wayne’s childhood without retreading the typical ground seen in previous films. Seeing how he was around his fellow classmates and friends would provide an intriguing (and personal) look into how he was treated during the days where he was just another young boy struggling to get along with the other students in his class (but with a billion dollar inheritance).
Hush’s inclusion could allow the film to be a personal battle for Bruce as well, who not only has to fight an opponent that he holds childhood ties with, but also someone who picks a particularly devious (and unique) way to take revenge on his former childhood buddy.
9) Set The Stage For Batman Beyond
Representing the much-beloved time of great DC cartoons back in the late 90s to early 2000s, Batman Beyond was a fantastic series in which fans could enjoy having Kevin Conroy’s aging Batman passes the torch to a younger Caped Crusader. With Batfleck’s interpretation being that of a veteran-level, aged Bruce Wayne, it would be quite easy to begin setting the stage for a Batman-Beyond-inspired trilogy.
Now, it’s obviously too early for Batfleck to go into retirement, but if they introduce a Terry McGinnis type early-on, then he can be fully developed and ready to be Batman once Batfleck decides to look for a potential successor.
This is an idea that opens up a strong potential arc for Bruce Wayne, as he learns to stay home at night while a newer, motivated crime-fighter can take up his mantle. Matt Reeves could utilize Batfleck in all his glory, but then by the end of the second movie/beginning of the third, he could force Batman to face the reality of his aging and resign from his night job.
One issue with this is that it wouldn’t be until several films after The Batman that this set-up would be fully realized, but if Reeves showed anything with Apes trilogy, it’s that he can deliver a satisfying character arc across multiple movies.
8) Batman And Robin Prequel
It’s understandable if you wince with the words “Batman and Robin” put together, especially after Joel Schumacher’s infamous 1997 outing. However, if one looks to the duo’s adventures within the comics, then it’s clear that plenty of greatly entertaining stories could be utilized.
The shot from BvS showing a burned Robin costume already hints at some potentially heartbreaking scenes. Since this Robin hasn’t been introduced yet, a film dedicating plentiful screentime to the dynamic duo’s relationship would allow a worthy cinematic portrayal of the pair. Not only that, but it could be something similar to the A Death in The Family storyline, where viewers get a full visualization of Robin’s final moments at the hands of the Joker near the end.
It’ll depend on whether or not Reeves would want more than a couple Robin-centric scenes. Along with that, maybe he’d prefer to work with a different Robin than Jason Todd (perhaps Damien or Tim). Regardless, a definitive portrayal of Batman and Robin is an enticing prospect for any longtime fan, and The Batman could offer exactly that.
7) A Dark Arkham Asylum: A Serious House On Serious Earth Adaptation
If there’s one word to describe the Arkham Asylum graphic novel, it’s “unsettling.” The water color-esque art, the terrifying imagery and disturbing subject material combine to form a story that’s more of a horror movie than it is a standard superhero tale. AA: ASHOSE chronicles the life of Asylum founder Amadeus Arkham while simultaneously showing a mentally challenging battle between Batman and the Joker, who’s released the inmates and taken the employees hostage.
While this wouldn’t be the most “mainstream-friendly” option for WB to take, it’s doubtful Matt Reeves wants to simply do what previous Batman directors have done. Besides, while audiences have seen some creepy Joker moments in film, they’ve never seen a full-blown disturbed Joker. This would undoubtedly be a great acting challenge for Jared Leto and an opportunity for Reeves to further indulge his tendency to go grim-dark with the overall tone.
Besides, making The Batman a full-on horror/thriller hybrid movie is an immediately intriguing enough concept that’s difficult to turn down.
6) An Adaptation Of Arkham Asylum (The Video Game)
While the Arkham Asylum graphic novel focused on psychological horror, visual metaphors, and the backstory of the asylum’s founder, the first installment of the Arkham video game series is far more straightforward and less idealistic. However, what it lacks in horrifying imagery, it makes up for with appearances by many different villains like Killer Croc, Victor Zsasz, and Scarecow, all of which are led by Joker and Harley Quinn.
Not only would this allow for a tremendously action-packed story, but it would be greatly varied across its runtime. Mentally challenging sequences like the Scarecrow sections would contrast with Killer Croc’s sewer scenes in a satisfying way. Arkham Asylum offers a wealth of potential dangers that would push Batman to his limits.
In addition, you offer up the Joker vs. Bat storyline in a way that remains unique to previous cinematic showdowns. It could even provide Jared Leto’s Clown Prince of Crime the best opportunity to chew scenery with manic delight.
5) Under The Red Hood Adaptation
There are many adaptations that would be well-suited to The Batman, but Under the Red Hood seems like the most obvious choice overall. BvS showed the burned Robin suit (with the Joker’s spray-painted taunt on it), and Suicide Squad brought up Harley Quinn’s connection to the murder of Robin. It’s clear, then, that the character is most definitely relevant in this universe, and an adaptation of the aforementioned graphic novel would surely please fans.
Not only does UTRH fit the likely grittier tone that Matt Reeves is known for, but it would expand the DCEU to incorporate some notable personalities like the titular character, Ra’s al Ghul, Black Mask and more. However, the focus of Red Hood isn’t in its bevy of familiar faces, but its emotional core. The heart that reveals itself throughout the plot gives the action weight and the characters necessary depth.
As previously mentioned, Robin doesn’t have a great reputation with live-action interpretations. But through the use of a storyline centered around him, he can receive something of a rebirth in popularity among fans who wish to see the character done justice.
4) Battle Of Wits Between The Riddler And The World’s Greatest Detective
Since Jim Carrey’s Riddler in Batman Forever was more a product of the actor than the source material, comic book fans have been longing to see an authentic portrayal of the villain on the big screen. Gotham‘s Riddler has its own take and the Arkham games had the sarcastic, egotistical side of the character, but there’s still some grit that has yet to be seen in the Man in Green.
A cinematic version could provide a take on him that’s more sociopathic (perhaps serial killer-esque) while not straying away from what makes Edward Nygma well-renowned. Matching up with the neo-noir and detective-focused Batman that Matt Reeves has discussed, a battle of wits between Nygma and The World’s Greatest Detective would make The Batman an intensely thrilling experience unlike any other Dark Knight film preceding it.
3) Deathstroke Vs. Batman: A Moral/Physical Battle
For anyone who’s seen the Arkham Origins Deathstroke animated fight, the desire to get a cinematic battle between Bruce Wayne and Slade Wilson is STRONG. The two characters have had their fair share of memorable tussles, but allowing a brutal, no-holds-barred, live-action entanglement would further legitimize Batfleck and establish Joe Manganiello’s Deathstroke as a worthy antagonist.
Matt Reeves isn’t especially known for his action, but he’s by no means unfamiliar with it. Dawn and War for the Planet of the Apes represents his effective ability to balance great action mixed with engaging drama. After all, Deathstroke is more than just a time weathered hit man. He’s faced a fair share of tragedy and misfortune throughout his life. Reeves can avoid making him just a blood thirsty killer and instead offer up a three dimensional villain that audiences can connect with.
Would the action be the highlight of the whole movie? Of course! However, if Matt Reeves has proved anything, it’s that he won’t serve up just a straight forward action flick. Instead, he’ll provide a film with just enough depth to give each fight purpose.
2) Adapt Scott Snyder’s Court Of Owls
Scott Snyder’s New 52 Batman was something special thanks to a refreshing (but still recognizable) interpretation of the iconic character. Part of the successful run came from his strong first installment in Batman: The Court of Owls. Following a series of brutal murders, Bruce Wayne finds out the existence of a secret society called the Court of Owls. This group, at its foundation, runs the entirety of Gotham through their network of resources and assassins.
The mix of mind games, physical tests, and intrigue presented within this storyline would be a brutal treat. The challenge and threat of the Court is more than enough to contest (and even maybe overwhelm) Batman, and their influence keeps on growing across Gotham.
Audiences have seen what years of wear and tear have done to Bruce Wayne’s demeanor, but witnessing the mental torture and debilitation brought on by these mystery opponents could illustrate what 20 years of crime-fighting and beatdowns can do to one’s mental fortitude.
1) An Entirely Original Murder Mystery Detective Story
Then again, what if Matt Reeves decided to fully commit and make The Batman a full-on murder mystery thriller? A completely original story centered around the Dark Knight solving a case that affects all of Gotham would be a substantial (but refreshing) departure from typical Batman films. Instead of a movie that’s just more of the same, you get a storyline that’s more methodical, expertly paced and endlessly thrilling.
This would go against much of what many fans are beginning to resent: constant universe-building. Instead of another team-up or set-up movie, DC fans would have a film that’s completely self-contained akin to The Dark Knight trilogy. Along with a sheer avoidance of constant world-building (at least outside of Gotham city), Reeves can focus on telling a new, engaging story that’s all his own.
Without a classic tale to have to uphold and compete with, Reeves and fellow screenwriter Mark Bomback can focus on making the “neo-noir, detective” movie that was previously discussed. An original mystery-heavy story would fit that description perfectly. Quite frankly, if Matt Reeves wants to give fans the definitive cinematic Batman, then a true representation of the World’s Greatest Detective in this first installment would be the perfect starting place.