With rumours swirling about the state of the upcoming DCEU standalone Batman movie, fans are left to wonder what will inspire the next on screen adventure of the Caped Crusader. Dealing with a major motion picture studio and a star as prolific as Ben Affleck – who is also, famously, a gigantic fan of the Dark Knight – opens the door to adapt any classic Batman story they like or to create something completely different. As Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego, Batman, are approaching 80 years of publication history (they don’t look a day over 44), there is a veritable library of inspiration for the screenwriters to pull from.
Even amidst the sheer volume of Batman stories there are a handful of the most iconic stories that comic book fans most want to see adapted. We’ve had glimpses of some of them, with notes of No Man’s Land cropping up in The Dark Knight Rises and obvious inspiration from The Dark Knight Returns making appearances in Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Sadly, not everyone’s favorite stoylines can make their way onto this list and not many events from the post-Flashpoint world will be found here, but old friends will be Hush-ed and a Family will Die before the list is complete.
Here are the 15 Batman Stories We Want To See Adapted In The Next Movie.
15. Superman/Batman Public Enemies
Warner Bros. has already established that they’re not against teaming up the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight, so why not take another stab at it? Public Enemies has already been successfully adapted to the small screen in the form of an animated movie 2009 based on a comic book storyline of the same name. If it found success in adaptation once there is no reason why adding elements like Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck – and maybe even Melissa Benoist as Power Girl – should do anything other than elevate it.
Public Enemies sees Batman and Superman dealing with the election of Lex Luthor to President of the United States and their distrust of his motivations. Lois Lane plays an integral role, which would allow for Amy Adams to make another appearance in the DEU, and Shazam could make a cameo here before headlining a movie of his own.
14. Mask of the Phantasm
Mask of the Phantasm has enjoyed life as an animated feature film. It stands apart and above its predecessor on this list by being regarded as the greatest animated Batman film. Mask of the Phantasm is also a storyline that would allow the DCEU to fold in more female characters.
Mask pits a new masked vigilante – the aforementioned Phantasm – against Batman in Gotham City. Each vie to eliminate the mob element by employing their own unique brand of justice.
From what viewers know from Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Bruce Wayne does not have a close female companion – although, yes, there is a woman of indeterminate identity and origin sleeping in his bed for one brief scene – and it could make for some compelling watching to explore Bruce’s romantic relationship with Andrea Beaumont in a series of flashbacks and see what Gotham City’s most famous Billionaire Playboy was like in his younger days. Mask of the Phantasm could be the opportunity to do some more personal storytelling with the man behind the mask.
13. Batman Incorporated
One of the most unique Bat-family stories, Batman Incorporated would allow Warner Bros. the opportunity to expand who audiences think of as making up the Batman Family. Many were expecting Dick Grayson’s Nightwing in Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice – to say nothing of rumors that Jena Malone would be playing some incarnation of Barbara Gordon or Carrie Kelley.
Batman Incorporated rises out of the revelation that Bruce Wayne and Talia Al Ghul have a biological son named Damian Wayne, coupled with the death and resurrection of Bruce Wayne and the aftermath. Bruce Wayne could definitely hold a press conference to announce that Wayne Enterprises is publicly funding Batman’s global crusade.
Batman Incorporated would allow for more storylines and scenes to be included like Batman’s foray in Hong Kong from The Dark Knight. It could also be a wonderful vehicle to rehabilitate the movie-going public’s views of characters like Robin, whom many people still associate with Burt Ward’s performance in the Batman ’66 television series, rather than something like what Tim Drake does in the Arkham franchise.
12. Arkham Asylum
Arkham Asylum is one of those series comic book fans have been crying out to have adapted. It could provide the opportunity to expand Batman’s rogue gallery in the DCEU – which seems repeatedly confined to simply focusing on the Joker again and again and again.
The original storyline addresses that revolving-door nature of Gotham City’s home for the criminally insane and how it’s nightmarish internal standards make foursome of the worst repeat offenders any of us could ever imagine. An Arkham Asylum feature film could use the over-the-top circumstances to highlight the way mass media looks at mental health and portrays it to the movie going public. Wrapped up in the fantastical trappings could be a thoughtful moral center that nobody would have ever expected.
Arkham Asylum is also famous for its Alice in Wonderland-esque magical art that could provide a director with a strong visual sense or auteur tendencies to really run away with the visual elements of storytelling that are unique to moviemaking and sets it apart from all other media. It would absolutely make a movie unlike any other that have come out of the DCEU – if not any superhero flick to date.
11. Bruce Wayne Murderer
Bruce Wayne: Murderer is a 2002 storyline that deals with the struggle between the man and the mask and attempts to answer for the audience whether Bruce Wayne or Batman is the tried and true personality. If executed deftly on screen, could be done in a way that was a trifle more ambiguous and allowed the audience to draw their own conclusions.
Bruce Wayne: Murderer necessitates the gathering of members of the larger Bat-family in order to deal with Bruce Wayne being framed for the murder of his girlfriend, Vesper Fairchild. In the same way, adapting this story would allow the expansion of this tiny corner of the DCEU with powerful in-story reasons for doing so. With Nightwing taking up the leadership position, this story also provide the opportunity to convince people of the importance of Nightwing.
Bruce Wayne: Murderer would lend itself to a true noir-style that Batman fans have been looking for from his cinematic adaptations, giving this incarnation a chance to as powerfully establish Gotham City as a character as it was in Batman: the Animated Series. It is also more obviously a mystery than almost any of the stories that have been examined thus far.
10. The Killing Joke
True, the animated movie was met with mixed reviews and stirred up much controversy in some of their portrayals of characters, but The Killing Joke is a much-beloved storyline. If another solo Batman film is going to rely on the notoriety of the Clown Prince of Crime this is the one that deserves to be brought into live action.
The Killing Joke is famously the story where the Joker kidnaps Commissioner Gordon, tortures him – to varying degrees of severity, depending on the reader’s interpretation – and paralyzes Barbara Gordon by shooting through her spinal. In retaliation Batman breaks the Joker’s neck – maybe. The storyline’s heavy reliance on the Gordon’s could be a great way to highlight J.K. Simmons’ in the role that is about to be introduced in The Justice League movie and to bring in Barbara Gordon. Even if she is never featured as Batgirl, incorporating Oracle into the DCEU could set up her role in a second Justice League movie.
9. Dark Victory
Dark Victory is probably the best classic Robin origin that has ever been told. It treads the board of the origin that most people know the basis of through one telling or another, shrouded in the mystery of the Hangman Killer. It also provides some insight into Batman’s psychological state and his capacity for empathy when he not only takes in the orphaned acrobat, but adopts Dick as his son.
There is always the dangling concern about what Robin is going to wear – would be appear in the green scaly underoos and the matching pixie boots or the outfit that has been retconned post-DC: Rebirth or is this the time when Dick Grayson skips right over being Robin and the audience simply sees him take up the mantle of Nightwing? There is a lot of opportunity to clarify and update aspects of the Robin mythos that have been lampooned in other mediums.
Plus, Catwoman makes an important appearance in Dark Victory and if she is going to be set up in the Gotham City Sirens movie, this could be a fun place to insert her and establish the kind of relationship she will have with Dick Grayson going forward.
8. Death in the Family
Based on what can be seen in the Batcave (that was actually later confirmed by a WB employee), fans know that Jason Todd existed in the DCEU, did a stint as Robin and was shot repeatedly. The costume is sized for an adult man, intimating that Jason may have only taken up the sidekick mantle as an adult man or have worked with Batman for a while. Bullet holes do not necessarily mean death, but per the comics traditions, costumes behind glass cases commemorate those who have passed.
In Suicide Squad on screen text establishes Joker and Harley Quinn were complicit in Robin’s death, which would include Jared Leto and Margot Robbie in the movie. There is an opportunity to focus on hand-to-hand combat aspects that are unique to these vigilantes. Think of the hallway fight in the first season of Daredevil played out across an entire movie and what a great piece of action storytelling this film could transform into.
Hush is arguably one of the most popular Batman stories of all time and always a storyline bandied around for on screen adaptation. It hits so many key elements to a Dark Knight tale. There is even an important romance carried out between Batman and Catwoman!
Nearly every beloved villain in his rogue gallery gets their moment in the sun, so the speak, which would allow WB the chance to decide exactly who they want to feature in any given scene. The same could be said for members of the Bat-family that each play a prominent role throughout Hush – including the first teases that Jason Todd may be coming back to life under the guise of a villain long-time Batfans will recognize.
Tommy Elliot – the childhood friend of Bruce Wayne who is an important figure in this storyline – is a role that would require a real star name behind it and would provide the opportunity to put someone really powerful opposite Ben Affleck – Matt Damon, anyone?
6. Under the Red Hood
If Warner Bros. is going to have the bravery to make a Death in the Family feature film then the next solo movie to follow up has to be Under the Red Hood. This is another comic book story that has been adapted to an animated feature of the same name has enjoyed both commercial and critical adoration since its release in 2010. This alone should be enough of a selling point for the studio to consider adapting it, let alone the fact that it concludes the drama Batman is left to deal with in the wake of Jason Todd’s death.
In Under the Red Hood, Batman revisits some of his interactions with Jason Todd as Robin in flashbacks – which could be lifted directly from the previous movie or expand on what audiences saw there – and examines how he could have done better by Jason. Where his shortcomings were. It is a very tortured Batman in this story that Ben Affleck could really sink his teeth into, from a performance perspective. This emotional performance would be even further heightened by the reveal of Jason Todd’s resurrection and his adopting of the Red Hood mantle.
5. No Man’s Land
No Man’s Land features the Bat-family dealing with the ramifications of a violent earthquake that leaves Gotham beyond hope and operating under martial law. It was briefly touched upon in The Dark Knight Rises, although without any true inspiration from the the comic book story.
Here is a uniquely street-level disaster for Batman to deal with that could feel very topical in a world plagued frequently by strange natural disasters. No Man’s Land provides an easy plot twist to keep the rest of The Justice League out of Gotham for the course of the movie – a problem to solve that only the Bat-family could help with.
If WB were interested in expanding Batman’s allies beyond Jeremy Irons’ Alfred this movie would provide a perfect vehicle for introduction and it would hit the post-apocalyptic aesthetic that is so prevalent in popular culture right now.
4. The Black Mirror
Yes, Black Mirror was originally contrived as a Dick-as-Batman story, but it could easily be about Bruce Wayne for the sake of DCEU continuity. This is a self-contained within Gotham storyline that pits the Caped Crusader against human traffickers – at least, initially. This real-world criminality could make Black Mirror a movie to tackle important social issues dressed up as a superhero movie, which is something a Batman story can do that many other cannot.
The villain pulling the strings in Black Mirror is James Gordon Jr. who is the son of Commissioner Gordon and brother of Barbara Gordon. He could still be featured in the movie without the familial ties, but since James Gordon Sr. is already a part of the movie universe, it would make sense to highlight the working relationship between Batman and Gordon in order to take down his son.
3. Court of Owls
Secret societies – anyone? The Court of Owls is an organized crime group in Gotham that it is slowly revealed has infiltrated nearly every aspect of Batman’s life – and the lives of his associates. As the most celebrated Batman story to come out of The New 52 it would only make sense to bring it to the silver screen.
Court of Owls would offer a chance to re-examine events that fans of the DCEU are familiar with from a different point of view and see how in control characters like Batman really were. Tendrils of the organization could grow and grow throughout the movie until Batman has no choice, but to take down the people who think they have him under control.
2. The Dark Knight Returns
Arguably the most celebrated Batman story of the modern age is The Dark Knight Returns, which also has two successful animated adaptations under its belt. Teases from this storyline appeared in Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice – the armored Batman costume being the most obvious – so why not have WB take more inspiration from it?
DKR centers on Batman’s determination, sometimes to the point of madness, in fulfilling his promise to his parents to rid Gotham of crime. With Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne wearing grey in his hair, it would make sense to have him deal with some of the unique struggles that character would face after decades of living the Dark Knight lifestyle.
1. The Long Hallowe’en
The Long Hallowe’en would be the absolute perfect story to be adapted for the next Batman solo movie. It is strictly and truly a mystery. To date, there has been no Batman movie that is simply a mystery – they are almost always action movies. The Holiday murders would allow the storytelling to remain confined to Gotham City and illustrate the power of Bruce Wayne’s mind.
Throughout the story, each murder takes place on a different commonly celebrated holiday. This could examine how Bruce Wayne reacts to each specific date – Christmas being the obvious one for conflict to arise out of. It may also give Alfred an opportunity to relate more with his surrogate son than has been previously seen.
The Long Hallowe’en is the perfect package of a Batman story. Every element is in place and it celebrates what makes him special compared to his superpowered contemporaries. A traditional examination of the man behind the mask would help the first solo Batman movie of the DCEU step out from the shadow of the Christopher Nolan trilogy.
Do you have any other Batman comic book stories that you think would make wonderful movie scripts? We would love to read about them in the comments below.