A new rumor indicates Warner Bros. is planning to adapt Arkham Asylum for their HBO Max series as a “dark R-rated TV series” without Batman.
The rumor comes from TVO of the Lords of the Long Box YouTube channel.
TVO states, “We are finding out Arkham Asylum is being discussed for HBO Max as a dark R-rated TV series with just the villains and no Batman at all.” He continues, “Man-Bat is set to appear.” He adds, “They really want to stretch this out. I think they are seeing that they can do Batman stuff sans Batman like Pennyworth.”
Warner Bros. has begun creating Batman adjacent projects without Batman. TVO mentions Pennyworth, but the biggest test will most likely be director Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix’s upcoming Joker movie. In all of the promotion leading up to the film, Batman doesn’t appear although some believe that a young Bruce Wayne does make an appearance.
Based on TVO’s report it’s unclear what exactly the show could be adapting. Rocksteady Studios produced the seminal Batman: Askham Asylum video game in 2009 with a story by Batman writer Paul Dini. The game is set in Arkham Asylum and features a who’s who of Batman villain including Harley Quinn, Joker, Victor Zsasz, Bane, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, Scarecrow, The Riddler, The Mad Hatter, Clayface, Ra’s al Ghul, and Scarface.
The game saw players take control of Batman as he uncovers a conspiracy involving Joker and a doctor named Penelope Young, who had been working on a superhuman formula for him. The game would go on to launch a trilogy including Arkham City and Arkham Knight. Warner Bros. also released a prequel titled Arkham Origins.
It’s also possible he could be referring to Grant Morrison and Dave McKean’s Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth. The story sees Arkham’s prisoners take over the Asylum. Much like the game, Batman has to fight a who’s who of his rogue’s gallery. Also like the game, the book sees Batman uncover a conspiracy, but this time it involves the Arkham Asylum’s administrator Dr. Charles Cavendish and one of its therapists Dr. Ruth Adams.
Both stories are definitely Batman-centric, so there would have to be quite a bit of changes. Given TVO’s description, I imagine the show first starting off in Arkham Asylum, but the inmates are eventually set free. Once free they divide up Gotham among themselves into gang territories. It could be similar to Peaky Blinders, but instead of following Thomas Shelby and his family, the show could follow Kirk Langstrom as he switches between scientist and the terrifying creature known as Man-Bat. It could see him working for the various Gotham warlords in order to find a cure for himself and his son.
What do you think about an Arkham Asylum show? What kind of show are you envisioning?