Batman: Dead End
The clock tower strikes midnight in a rainy, cold, and dreary Gotham City. The Joker has just escaped from Arkham Asylum once again. The bat signal has been illuminated and Batman is on the case. He tracks his arch nemesis to a dead end alley. The Joker is no match for the Bat, but what else lurks in the dark shadows of the alley, very well might be...
Until the first Christopher Nolan Batman films came along, many Batman fans considered this short film made by Sandy Collora the truest-to-comic-book movie incarnation of The Dark Knight. This premiered at the 2003 San Diego Comic-Con (before movie studios and celebrities invaded) and was a monster hit with fans. It was created by Sandy Collora for around $30,000 - and fans went crazy when they saw it at the time. Unfortunately, nothing much came of it for Collora, who intended the short film to showcase his abilities as a director (the only film he's directed since creating Hunter Prey).
Keep in mind that at the time Batman: Dead End was made (two years before Batman Begins was released) the most recent Batman film was the horrifically awful Batman & Robin by Joel Shumacher, which starred George Clooney as Batman with Chris O'Donnell as Robin, Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl, Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze and Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy. This was the film that put the final nail in that generation's Batman movie franchise coffin, with an uber-camp script, silver highlights on the Batman costume, and the infamous Bat-nipples (technically those were gone after the previous film, but Robin still had them).
So when the last Batman movie you saw looked like this:
Imagine the wild relief of fans when they saw the 8-minute film above that represented Batman like this:
Of course since then, Christopher Nolan went on to give us what may end up being considered the definitive Dark Knight movie trilogy, but at the time, Batman: Dead End was a welcome sign that a satisfying Batman film WAS possible.
A bit of Screen Rant trivia: This was actually the very first item published on the site, WAY back on November 13, 2003 (time flies!), but we've resurrected it here today for your viewing pleasure. :)