Believe it or not, there has yet to be any direct adaptations of a Batman graphic novel or storyline on the big screen. Batman vs. Superman borrowed scenes and designs from The Dark Knight Returns and “The Dark Knight” trilogy took significant cues from Year One, Knightfall, The Long Halloween, Daughter of the Demon and once again Dark Knight Returns. 

Scott Snyder and Christopher Nolan are famous for taking legendary comic moments and adapting them for their respective films. Snyder pulls moments of striking imagery and momentous action while Nolan reworks character arcs and plot-lines to great and dramatic effect. Whether you agree or like their methods, DC seems to be avoiding the Civil War’s and Winter Soldier’s of the world by making each film entirely their own. As Matt Reeves steps up to the plate, one wonders what victories or failures of Batman’s past he’ll want to capture.

Will he look to bring more modern, unfamiliar villains and allies to the forefront? Will he capitalize on the nostalgic by revisiting some fan favorites? Literally nothing is known about the film. Even previously cast Deathstroke Joe Manganiello is “unsure” of his inclusion in the simply titled, “The Batman.” We know Reeves loves the noir, and looks to make Ben Affleck into “the detective” we’ve loved for generations. But just what are the best Batman stories to explore? Here we discuss some stories that should and some that shouldn’t be adapted for Batman’s highly anticipated return to Gotham.

What They Should Avoid Like The Plague!

1. Battle for the Cowl

With Bruce Wayne gone, the Batfamily have trouble deciding just who should step up to the cowl. Tony Daniel wrote and drew the story after Grant Morrison moved onto Batman Incorporated from the core Batman title. As Dick Grayson and the usual suspects battle it out for the mantle, Bruce travels through time and space to return to his home and costume. As Ben Affleck rumors abound, many believe the film will replace a Bruce Wayne Batman. In that unlikely case, Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Thomas Wayne could be stepping up to the plate as an Earth 2, Thomas Wayne replacement. If so, it’ll happen in the upcoming Flashpoint and not in Matt Reeves’ stand alone.

2. Knightfall

A broken and battered Batman falls at the hands and knees of Bane. Recently utilized in The Dark Knight Rises, Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan’s Knightfall arc is another that sets up a new Batman by way of Jean Paul Valley’s Azrael. While it could be used as a way to set up an unlikely Ben Affleck replacement, Bane’s presence seems unlikely. Though he’s the central villain there are a few moments to mine from the famous Detective Comics run. However, most see Azrael’s Batman as much a “one trick pony” as Bane. The famous battle would be glorious but “The Batman” needs a mental villain, a mastermind to challenge Batman’s intelligence and detective skills.

3. The Long Halloween

Two Face’s heartbreaking transformation in The Dark Knight from White Knight to menacing murderer is lifted directly from this Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale masterpiece. Once again, Nolan only took snippets of the intricate story to create his Two Face. The masterful, month-themed mafia murder mystery is an intriguing prospect to consider. Unfortunately, there are a few problems that make its’ inclusion unlikely. There are quite a few villains and mob families to introduce and work with in Long Halloween. Reeves would likely want a smaller, personal story to keep Batman busy. Not to mention it takes place over an entire year. One of DKR‘s most scrutinized faults was its’ lengthy timeline that only spanned a few months. A timeline of a year is something DC and Warner Bros are looking to avoid.

4. The Killing Joke

Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s masterpiece is often regarded as the definitive, introspective adventure into what makes the Joker tick. The story involves a gruesome kidnapping, torture, murder, and even sexual assault. Despite the recent R-rated Superhero flick-fad, “The Batman” is unlikely to show that much of Gotham’s seedy underbelly. Truly, the Joker has never been more vile or sinister than in the pages of The Killing Joke. Though Jared Leto’s Joker made his debut in last year’s “Suicide Squad”, the reception was mixed to say the least. At times his performance was inspired; other times the Joker epitomized the movie’s terrible screenplay. He may be ruthless, but Jared Leto’s Joker doesn’t seem capable of the evils Alan Moore’s laughing lunatic commits.

5. Batman Incorporated

Grant Morrison’s legendary run was famous for bringing unfamiliar characters into the modern day. Zur En Arrh was but one of the countless homages Morrison made to the character’s rich and lengthy history. Batman Incorporated was an organization founded by Bruce Wayne as a means to fund the Dark Knight, and those like him, around the world. The group funded and oversaw the Batman’s operations across several other countries around the world. Bruce ultimately used them to help take down Talia’s terrorist group, Leviathon. It would be interesting to see live-action versions of the Tokyo Batman or Knight and Squire. But Reeves wants to depict a personal and intimate look into Batman. The cavalcade of characters here demands too much time for a proper film adaptation. We need to know more about this Batman, this Bruce, before any others should be explored.

What They SHOULD Adapt

1. Hush

Jim Lee’s influence can already been seen in the DCEU. Batman’s simple and classic grey and black suit perfectly encapsulates Lee’s take on the character. It would be no surprise than if they adapted what might be his and writer Jeph Loeb’s greatest work. The story delves into and plays with Bruce Wayne’s past by creating a new villain in Hush. The tale is part thriller, part mind game. It’s an exploration into tragedies that can create or destroy the human mind. Many have joked that Affleck’s longtime bestie Matt Damon would make a perfect Hush, or even a titillating Robin. Hilarious imagery aside, this is a personal story that Reeves and Affleck could sink their proverbial batfangs into.

2. Under the Red Hood

We don’t know much about the DCEU’s Batman, but two things are clear.  The first is that Jason Todd’s Robin is long dead at the hands of Joker and Harley Quinn. The other is that Batman has been on a violent rampage ever since. This leaves the door perfectly open for Judd Winick’s Under the Red Hood story line. The entertaining and violent work has a lot of benefits for the DCEU. The film could start Red Hood and Nightwing franchises by introducing both characters. It could also introduce a new Robin and give a significant, but not central, part to Jared Leto’s Joker. Matt Reeves’ next film has plenty of potential. Even if Arkham Knight’s recent release has made fans tired of the character.

3. Batman R.I.P.

By far the weirdest of possibilities, R.I.P. is an insane mystery wrapped in a crazy enigma. The story did more than introduce Grant Morrison’s famous take on Batman Zur En Arrh, it fulfills every violent BatFantasy one can imagine. As a massive conspiracy unfolds in Gotham, both Batman and Joker independently clash with the mysterious Black Glove organization. The group’s ultimate goal is the destruction of Batman. The problem: Grant Morrison’s Batman has planned for everything. Literally everything. Even Jeffrey Dean Morgan has a minor part to play somewhere in the story. Yet another chance to reprise his Thomas Wayne. Though R.I.P is an unlikely choice, it would be a bold, psychedelic, and unforgettable adventure.

4. The Court of Owls

The most recently created of potential stories, The Court of Owls introduces a brand new villain to Gotham. Featured on Fox’s Gotham TV show, the court has roots in Gotham just as deep as Bruce Wayne. From the city’s inception they’ve lingered in its’ shadows, devious and seemingly immortal warriors and aristocrats with apocalyptic agendas. Writer Scott Snyder’s Owls wreak havoc on the caped crusader, invading both the Wayne Manor and the Batcave hidden within. It seems impossible to create new enemies for the Bat that could rival the likes of Batman’s Rogue Gallery. The villainous likes of the Penguin, Two Face, and the Joker will never truly be matched. However, Snyder’s owls would be another bold and never-before-seen mystery for the DCEU’s Batman to explore.

5. Son of Batman 

Another unlikely possibility, this could change public perception of Batman for all time. Another Grant Morrison story, the plot introduces us to Batman’s biological son, Damian. Raised by mother Talia Al Ghul and grandfather Ras, Damian is an assassin fluent in countless fighting styles and techniques. Fans may clamor for Tim Drake, but a Damian Robin parallels Affleck’s Batman perfectly. Damian tries and fails to adhere to the restraints of Batman’s principles. As Batman needs to temper his temper, his son could be the violent foil by which Batman judges himself. Changing himself as he saves Damian from his murderous instincts. It’s a story about a father and son learning what those roles mean. If Matt Reeves is looking to show us the intimate and personal side of Bruce, look no further than Son of Batman. 

The Road Not Taken

Matt Reeves and Ben Affleck have proven themselves to be uniquely consistent and profound filmmakers. Though he may not be the deciding factor anymore, Ben is a voice Matt Reeves is far too smart to ignore. The two will want to take their Batman to a place we have never seen before, though we may feel some deja vu. Yes, using the “familiar” is key to keeping comic fans interested and audiences excited. But pioneers want to explore, and there are many mysteries and villains a live action Batman has yet to see.

Reeves may yet create an entirely new story using just some of the faces and places with which we’re familiar.  He has an eye for the dark corners of the world, be they in the mind of a tortured ape or a 7-year-old vampire. He has an ear for empathetic villains. The potential of him showing us a new side of Batman’s many villains is simply, laughably believable. If Matt does use one of Batman’s many missions as inspiration he’ll undoubtedly include a surprise or three of his own. Thanks to his filmography Matt Reeves seems to have many cards up his sleeves… We just don’t know if the Joker is one of them.

  • About The Author

    Daniel Mills
    Batman & DC Writer

    Daniel Mills is a screenwriter and director working in Los Angeles, California. Far too many comics and Forgotten Realms-novels led him to want to tell stories of his own. From articles and opinion pieces to reviews and screenplays, he sees every new opportunity as another new realm waiting to be explored.

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