With Matt Reeves taking over as director of the new “Batman” movie, replacing Ben Affleck (who’s still set to star), Warner Bros. found itself in a quandary as the film’s script is set to be rewritten from scratch. This has led to the studio scurrying to see what it can shoot this year to replace the movie in the DC Extended Universe, if it decides to do so at all.
Reeves’ movie won’t start production before 2018, so fans have already began speculating as to what they want to see in the interim, though they are tentative as they don’t want a rushed production. Bearing that in mind, CBR decided to look at 15 movies from DC Comics’ stable that could be shot to fill in for the Batman!
SPOILER WARNING: Major spoilers ahead for various DC comic books and movies
15. GREEN LANTERN CORPS
Calls are being made to fast-track the Green Lantern Corps movie. A Green Lantern is rumored to appear in Zack Snyder’s upcoming “Justice League,” so fans are hoping that we finally get that ensemble, military/buddy-cop space saga that Martin Campbell’s 2011 “Green Lantern” failed to deliver. They’ve also been vociferous about it being about the entire Corps, and not just Hal Jordan this time around.
Fans are adamant that the studio dive straight into the Corps and their rivals, instead of traipsing around origins again because they feel the war of light, a Geoff Johns story that pitted the Lanterns against the other colored Corps, is the ideal place to start. Such a move could even link to Darkseid’s forces conquering and colonizing across the galaxy, with Apokolips’ gaze now firmly set on Earth. Whether it ends with Hal, John Stewart, Kyle Rayner and company heading to Earth to team-up with the Justice League in the midst of battle, or actually going there to warn them about invading forces, this film should promise a lot of action!
14. DR. FATE
DC’s cineverse was opened up to the supernatural realm in “Suicide Squad” thanks to the Enchantress trying to devour Midway City and Amanda Waller’s Task Force X mercenaries. With “Shazam” set to star Dwayne Johnson as the antagonist, Black Adam, there’s another door open to call in Dr. Fate. This character is popular in the comics, but even more so in the “Justice League” cartoons. He would be a great mystical response to Marvel Studio’s “Doctor Strange,” with this story focusing on sorcery and powers granted to those donning Fate’s helmet.
Kent Nelson and, more recently, an Egyptian-American student, Khalid Nassour, are two popular characters who have donned the mantle, and there’s a big opportunity here to even tie him in to the “Dark Universe” movie being planned, which will focus on John Constantine’s team, a la the “Justice League Dark” comics and recent animated feature. Fate’s story could traverse many realms, even the afterlife, and also explore how magic is linked to the multiverse. This could be a visually powerful, culturally rich and highly diverse story if done right.
13. TALIA AL GHUL
Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” trilogy focused a lot on how Bruce trained with Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Shadows. It was a story filled with deception, but in the comics, the al Ghuls have been a bit more forthcoming. One aspect that could be fleshed out in this film is how Talia, daughter of Ra’s, acts as his second in command, which we got a bit of with Bane in “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Ra’s has always been searching for a successor, with Talia even engineering a child from Bruce in Damian Wayne, so that dichotomy would be interesting to explore. This story could expand on the formation and rise of the League, as well as how they carved their place out in the world. Faces that may not get mainstream screen time could pop up here such as Lady Shiva, David Cain and of course, Cassandra Cain, who was trained to be a more cutthroat Batgirl. A villain-centric movie with Talia as the Daughter of the Demon (aka, Ra’s) could end with them eyeing Gotham and Batman.
12. THE OUTSIDERS
“The Outsiders” is a black-ops team created by Batman when the Justice League wouldn’t agree to a mission, or if it took them out of the boundaries of the United States. It’s basically his Suicide Squad, but with members who join of their own volition and not under pain of death. This is the ideal time to deploy the team, with Nightwing placed in charge, helping guide obscure or aspiring heroes against dark forces. Batman knows he can’t be everywhere all the time, and found that this team is a good substitute for the League.
Geo-Force (who controls gravitational fields), Metamorpho (whose body can assume forms of gas, liquid or solid states), Black Lightning (who can generate a force field and electrical bolts), and the aforementioned assassin, Cassandra Cain, would be a great mix of the old and new in terms of who should shape the roster. They usually dealt with national conflicts that required covert missions, such as with Markovia, a country with which heroes couldn’t publicly associate. Evil syndicates such as KOBRA or Max Lord’s CHECKMATE would make for perfect opposition forces to test the waters against, as they often capitalize on such terrorist cases.
11. SECRET SIX
“Secret Six” is another covert ops team hired by a secretive figure called Mockingbird (who has been Lex Luthor, Amanda Waller or the Riddler in the past). They are very similar to the Suicide Squad as well, boasting the likes of Bane (the famous Bat-villain), Rag Doll (a super-contortionist), Jeanette (a banshee), Scandal Savage (Vandal Savage’s warrior daughter), Catman (a gadget-powered fighter similar to Batman), and last but not least, Deadshot.
This team is more like a family, though, and have gone on dangerous missions to Alcatraz, Gotham and Belle Reeve prison, as guns for hire. One key villain they could take on is the immortal Vandal, made all the more dramatic thanks to his daughter being part of the headhunters. He’s often tried to go after the Justice League, but as seen on “Legends of Tomorrow” on the CW, a smaller-scaled team could take down his schemes from time to time. If they are used to break Lex out of prison, that would be something, and in-keeping with the movements within the shared universe.
10. ARKHAM KNIGHT
“Arkham Knight” was one of Rocksteady Studios’ more popular games, dealing with Batman fighting off a blood infection from the deceased Joker, while Scarecrow threatened Gotham with fear toxin. This could be retconned with Batman off on Justice League duty, leaving the Arkham Knight (a militarized and resurrected Jason Todd — the Robin that Joker murdered) and Azrael (a murderous vigilante once trusted by Batman) to wreak havoc on criminals such as Black Mask, Firefly and Penguin.
The absence of Joker would leave him for Reeves’ solo movie, and also give the other rogues time in the limelight. The Bat-family is so big that we don’t need all the villains fighting Batman. Instead, Robin (Tim Drake), Oracle (the paralyzed Barbara Gordon), and even Nightwing (Dick Grayson), could find themselves helping Jim Gordon protect Gotham. Characters such as Huntress, Stephanie Brown (Spoiler) and Luke Fox (Lucius’ son, aka the heroic Batwing) could also get a bit of screen time in an ensemble film along the lines of what Grant Morrison wrote in “Batman Incorporated.”
A.R.G.U.S. is DC Comics’ equivalent of Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D. In the comics, they have existed since the American civil war, and are modern liaisons to the Justice League, ensuring the superheroes are on good terms with the government. They are usually headed by Waller and Steve Trevor, so we may see a bit of them in the “Wonder Woman” movie. This organization does keep secrets, so it would be nice getting a look at them in the past under Trevor (played by Chris Pine) in a spinoff as treasure hunters.
Gathering mystical elements (linked to Dr. Fate, Shazam or Black Adam), Atlantean artifacts, as well as alien technology (maybe even imprisoning Darkseid’s daughter, Grail, as per the comics), could all fall into their scope of work. The easter eggs in this story would be endless and open up the DC multiverse on screen like never before, similar to what the Collector does for the MCU. If any villains do end up raiding their vaults, such as the Injustice League, the DC filmverse could be thrown into a major tailspin like never before.
We’ve already seen test footage of Joe Manganiello as Deathstroke (Slade Wilson), so hearing him say he isn’t sure if he’ll be playing the character anymore with Reeves taking over was very disappointing. He looked the part and if you’re familiar with him on shows like “True Blood,” you know he can bring the heat. A Deathstroke solo film should be made so as not to waste the opportunity because he’s clearly invested in the character, who behaves like an anti-hero… when not being an unstoppable mercenary.
Having him hunted by one of Waller’s Task Forces (as the comics recently revealed she had different iterations), or perhaps trying to secure a big score from say, S.T.A.R. Labs or A.R.G.U.S., could end up following the mold of “Suicide Squad” with a movie about a villain kicking ass. He’s always been a fan favorite and has potential to shine like Will Smith’s Deadshot did, but with a harder edge. Having Nightwing come after him could also tie into the Titans, his kids (Jericho and Rose), as well as the villainous H.I.V.E. organization.
Anne Hathaway wiped away memories of that abysmal “Catwoman” movie featuring Halle Berry, reigniting hopes that someday the character could be done justice in a solo. Michelle Pfeiffer’s role in “Batman Returns” is another great example of how the character is adaptive, no matter the generation, but only if you stick true to her essence. Catwoman also impressed in video games like the “Arkham” series, and “Injustice” franchise, so the time is right to give her a shot again.
With “Gotham City Sirens” in the works, and fans also calling for “Birds of Prey,” this could be the one chance to really delve into her backstory and show how she evolved into this femme fatale and feline thief. Fox’s “Gotham” is subverting a take on her, but seeing her go through history with the Falcone and Maroni families in cinema could add that gangster depth that a new Batman movie may not be willing to dissect anymore. Having her link with Poison Ivy or even Harley Quinn at the end of her heist could be the icing on the cake, especially as Waller’s sure to be monitoring.
Will Smith’s portrayal of Deadshot (real name, Floyd Lawton) was one of “Suicide Squad’s” strongest points. David Ayer let him run the show, leading Harley Quinn and the other misfits against the Enchantress. His chemistry with everyone was sublime, but what made him appeal even more was his presence and exchange with the Batman, who ended up apprehending him. It also linked to his fatherly arc and added emotive support to the character, showing that there was depth to him.
A solo film with him cutting loose is the next organic step because he proved that he did have heroic qualities, even if he didn’t want to admit it. Whether it’s Deadshot breaking out Belle Reeve prison, going after an Arkham inmate or Waller sending him on a one-off solo mission to dismantle the Justice League headquarters, a story with him as a one-man army has a lot of potential. Deadpool was seen as an obscure, if not cult-favorite character, but Fox took a chance on him, so Warner Bros. should be looking to pull the trigger on Deadshot’s rumored spinoff to show it’s not just about Justice Leaguers.
“Titans” would be a great approach for DC’s live-action movies, as they’d perfectly mesh together concepts like “Young Justice” and “Teen Titans.” This would be a proving ground for heroes before they reach the caliber the Justice League requires. Nightwing is ideal to lead, and with such a rich history, the roster has all kinds of potential for these junior Leaguers. Superboy (Kon-El), Supergirl (Kara Zor-El), Robin (Tim Drake), Kid Flash (Bart Allen or Wally West), Raven, Starfire and Beast Boy are some names that immediately come to mind.
Given that the DCEU now has more humor in it, this team could follow suit as they’ve always been lighthearted, very much like the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies. Imagine a network of all these youngsters training to take on armies from Lex Luthor, Vandal Savage or even bigger invasions from Darkseid. This is exactly what Batman would need to spruce up the more experienced team as they tangle with enemies off and on the planet. It would also make up for the television series that was promised but didn’t really see the light of day on TNT.
4. RED HOOD
When Jason Todd came back into DC Comics, he harbored a strong hatred for Batman and his team as he felt they didn’t avenge his controversial death at the hands of the Joker. We already saw hints of his presence in “Batman vs. Superman” with a Robin costume that was defaced by Joker, which undoubtedly shaped Bruce as a more vengeful Batman in the film. This is a chance to explore this dynamic without using a flashback or two in a Batman solo movie.
This story could really flesh out Todd as the Red Hood returning (while Batman’s off with the Justice League), and playing mind games with the rest of the Bat-family. Dick, Tim and Barbara could get caught in his crosshairs as he hunts the Joker (Jared Leto), and also goes off killing other villains for recreation. Characters like Hush and Clayface are potential foils as well in what could be a very violent and cerebral attack on Gotham’s underworld. By the film’s end, Todd could turn into the Arkham Knight and be shown waiting ominously for a meeting with Bruce.
3. GREEN ARROW
The CW’s “Arrow” really stretched out a comprehensive story of Oliver Queen and how he became the vigilante known as Green Arrow. A solo film would be even more appreciated as it presents the chance to go grimier and street-level in a Batman-esque fashion, but with a more grounded tone. CW has already done Merlyn and Prometheus so this is a chance to pick favorites from the comics and cartoons to feud with, such as Count Vertigo, Sportsmaster or Chesire.
The family dynamic could also be explored through the hotheaded Roy (aka, Red Arrow) and of course, Black Canary, whose romance with Ollie could take a toll on her and drive her to the “Gotham City Sirens” or “Birds of Prey.” Their team-ups do have the potential to kick ass in much the same way as “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” which would surely have room for a Batman cameo as he shows up to recruit them for the Justice League, who would be seeking as much help as possible against Darkseid.
The 2005 “Constantine” film lacked a lot of the DNA that made the character so popular in the Vertigo series “Hellblazer.” Keanu Reeves couldn’t pull off the charming vagabond disposition, and overall British badass swagger, which led to the film flopping as a supernatural thriller. This time around, the sorcerer needs to be done darker to fully bring out the occult, monster and demon worlds in which he dabbles. This is also the opportunity to up what we’ve seen on supernatural comic book shows like “Lucifier,” “Preacher” and “Outcast.”
Warner Bros. should make him British, firstly, and use a plot that really brings the horror elements out in Constantine’s world, elevating what we got from his cancelled NBC series, as well as “Arrow.” “Justice League Dark” was a fine template, showing just why he also needs to be in an R-rated atmosphere, which wouldn’t restrict him for audiences. That’s the only way to bring his foul-mouthed, spell-spewing vibe to life. This would a great jumping-on point for characters like Etrigan The Demon, Zatanna and even Swamp Thing, truly building the “Dark Universe” setting away from mainstream capes.
Nightwing is one of the characters DC fans most want to see on screen. His appearances in the “Arkham” games further stoked the fires of fandom, especially as Dick Grayson has been such a beloved hero. Whether it’s as Robin, policing Bludhaven, going through the romantic motions with Barbara, or taking over the cowl from Bruce, he always shows up as truly virtuous. This is something even Batman recognized, so showing Dick as his own man, flashing back to a former life in Gotham, would be a trip!
There’s a chance here to go into his work with the Titans, and even infiltrating the criminal organization known as SPYRAL, as per his “Grayson” comic book run. The Court of Owls is another organization he could go after, with villains such as Hush and Red Hood as potential candidates to feud with when Batman is working with the Justice League. A big curveball could even be how he handles Joker attacking Barbara, which may test his resolve and ideals as a hero. Having Tim appear could also be another great angle, making it the Robin-centric movie we’ve all clamored for for years.
Thoughts on our picks? Let us know in the comments what DC movie you’d like to replace the Batman this year!