Over the course of Batman’s extensive comic book history, there has been an abundance of fantastic writing. Each writer put their own spin on the character, making him their own, while simultaneously being true to the core of the character and crafting a moving story. Honoring such an iconic character is not an easy task and many have faltered over the years. Even some of the greatest writers can’t maintain a perfect output. But when they hit gold, their stories become legendary.
Given Batman’s current position in the DCEU as a more seasoned player in the Justice League, that already limits the studio’s ability to adapt any of the stories that take place earlier in his career, but that doesn’t stop them from adapting certain elements from those stories that can be modified to accommodate an older Batman. Some of the brilliant stories on this list will never be used for the reboot simply because they are too outlandish for the darker tone they are going for while others would most likely work a lot better as mini-series, while others won’t be used because they’re just plain terrible. In any case, here are the best Batman stories that the reboot would never use (in no particular order).
15. THE COURT OF OWLS
Although this is a fantastic story that introduces a new threat for Batman, that becomes a very big problem from a marketing standpoint — The Court isn’t really iconic. This secret society of villains is not one that the general public would know about (especially since the group was only recently created in 2011 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo).
It is true that the show Gotham has featured the Court, but has it made enough of an impact for people to pay their money to watch the Court in theatres? Studio executives might disagree. Yes, marketing companies also have to sell original movies that no one has ever heard about, but the fact is that a lot of people are attracted to Batman because of his iconic villains. So chances are studios will make a safe bet and stick with a tried and true big name villain.
14. JLA: TOWER OF BABEL
A lot of the best Batman tales also happen to be Justice League ones as well. This graphic novel written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Howard Porter showcases the extent of Batman’s strategic mind which is always preparing for the worst. He has extensive files on each of the League members which include their weakness. In this story, the files were stolen by Ra’s al Ghul as part of his evil plot.
The fact that Batman already gave a beating to Superman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice means that the studios would never go for another film where Batman is pitted against other heroes (even though we later find out that this was actually Ra’s al Ghul’s plot to take down the League and not Batman’s). It’s already been done on film, but that doesn’t make this story any less fantastic.
13. BATMAN: YEAR 100
Taking place 100 years after the first Batman sightings, Paul Pope’s Gotham is as corrupt as ever and Batman who hasn’t been seen in decades and is now a legend is on the run for murder. This story would never find its way into the reboot because it is so far removed from everything going on in the DCEU.
Even with the inclusion of “Flashpoint” in this universe, where technically any alternate future is possible, we just don’t see them going with this version. This is a very subversive take on Batman where his identity remains a mystery. Is it a 120-year old Bruce Wayne who has cheated death or someone else who has taken his place under the mask? We will never know. And that’s part of the fun.
12. THE LONG HALLOWEEN
This epic 13-issue story by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale follows Batman’s investigation of murders committed every month by a serial killer named Holiday. Batman, Jim Gordon and Harvey Dent race against the clock to catch Holiday before he commits another murder all the while Batman has to deal with a mob war between the Falcone and Maroni crime families.
If we forget the fact that this story takes place early in Batman’s career, the story still doesn’t lend itself well to cinematic conventions. For one thing, it’s much too long. It would do far better as a mini-series, because the whole point of the story is its drawn out mystery, as Batman goes through his rogues gallery trying to figure out who is murdering all these innocent people in Gotham.
11. THE KILLING JOKE
Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland is considered the quintessential Joker story. This graphic novel takes the psychology of The Joker to the next level and revolutionized how people saw the character. It was also a great influence of Heath Ledger’s portrayal in The Dark Knight. Moore’s goal for the story was to show how Batman and Joker are radically different yet have a lot of similarities which makes their ongoing conflict all the more interesting.
The DCEU will most definitely avoid this graphic novel because Jared Leto’s Joker is quite far removed from the completely insane, unreliable narrator of this tale. His Joker doesn’t really seem like a lunatic at all. If you take away the white skin and green hair, he’s just a regular thug. Oh and that disaster of an animated film doesn’t help things.
10. BATMAN #666
This one-shot is so badass. It takes place in the nightmarish future of Gotham where Bruce Wayne is dead and his son Damian has taken on the mantle of the bat. The story, written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Andy Kubert is completely loony as Batman has to hunt down and stop the anti-christ. As bizarre as the story is, it’s actually a really entertaining, action-packed read.
Besides the obvious reasons that Damian Wayne doesn’t exist (yet) in the DCEU, this story is probably a little too out there for Warner Brothers. It doesn’t feature any major players the general public would recognize from the Batman mythos. Even if they reworked the story to make Bruce Wayne Batman, they still wouldn’t go for it because we highly doubt they would have Batman battle the devil.
9. DEATH OF THE FAMILY
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s “Death of the Family” storyline is probably the craziest Joker story in comic book history. The Joker captures the Bat-family, tortures them and gives them laughing gas which causes them to fight each other. It includes some of the most horrific scenes in Batman comics, so chances are that Warner Brothers will never let any of this shocking imagery on screen.
There is absolutely no way they will do an R-rated Batman film, and to do this story justice, they would have to take that risk. But it’s a risk they’re not willing to take because it would alienate a huge part of their audience. You can’t have an adults-only Batman movie, as the industry will always be business first. Just think about all the ticket sales they’ll miss out on!
8. THE LAST CRUSADE
The Dark Knight Returns: The Last Crusade by Frank Miller, Brian Azzarello and John Romita Jr. got mixed reviews, but it is a fantastic study of the relationship between Bruce Wayne and Jason Todd, the ill-fated Robin who meets his end in this story, or more famously in the 1988-1989 run entitled “Batman: A Death in the Family” by Jim Starlin and Jim Aparo.
This is a really tragic story that perfectly encapsulates Batman’s fear that his young pupil will become consumed by his anger and violence, much like himself when he was younger. The DCEU exists in a world where Todd has already been murdered by the Joker, and chances are even if they show flashbacks of the event in an upcoming Batman film, they will not delve into the tragic psychology of the characters that was perfectly handled in this graphic novel.
“Hush” is considered to be one of the best Batman books out there, but we honestly have difficulty understanding why this is. Although the art by Jim Lee is fantastic as usual, the story written by Jeph Loeb, doesn’t really hold well on its own. Without the art, this book isn’t particularly interesting by any means, and seems like an excuse to shove as many villains in a run as possible.
The plot is a little ridiculous and the big reveal at the end is extremely underwhelming and Hush’s mysterious identity turns out to be a really lazy reveal. The main problem is that Hush is not a particularly interesting villain because his motives are really boring, and the DCEU already has enough bad villains. It doesn’t need another one to make matters worse.
“Endgame,” also by Snyder and Capullo, and makes for a great conclusion to Batman and Joker’s neverending struggle. It starts with the Justice League, who are under the influence of Joker’s mind controlling nerve gas, trying to kill Batman and it only gets better from there. The story has an element of the supernatural and brings forth the theory that The Joker is an immortal being.
This would be a perfectly fitting end to Ben Affleck’s career as Batman, but we have one glaring problem: Jared Leto. No one can envision his prison thug Joker causing the kind of mayhem and destruction in “Endgame.” He doesn’t really seem all that interested or obsessed with Batman as Snyder’s Joker is. As stated before, Leto’s Joker is a gangster and nothing more.
5. EARTH ONE
Batman: Earth One, written by Geoff Johns and drawn by Gary Frank, takes place in an alternate reality (Earth One) that is free from regular DC continuity, where creators were given free reign over popular DC characters, which made for a lot of great writing.
Although it would be really cool to somehow include Earth One Batman in the DCEU, perhaps in the “Flashpoint” storyline, chances are they are most likely going to use the regular Flashpoint Batman with Thomas Wayne under the cowl since they have already cast a perfectly capable actor (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) who cameoed as Thomas in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. We don’t think they will go too far to push the boundaries of the alternate universes found in the comic books.
4. THE DARK KNIGHT STRIKES AGAIN
Not all the entries on this list have to be great stories. The Dark Knight Strikes Again, written and illustrated by Frank Miller, is the critically panned follow-up to his instant classic The Dark Knight Returns. The page layout, art, and coloring were radically different from its predecessor and people did not respond well at all. It’s actually not a bad story, but it just couldn’t live up to the magic struck in The Dark Knight Returns.
For that reason alone, Warner Brothers won’t even get near this book for inspiration, because they know they will get a lot of backlash from fans. They already have enough to worry about — they’ve gotten backlash for almost every casting choice they made. They don’t want the extra aggravation of being told off by fans for choosing a story that a lot of people have judged harshly.
3. ARKHAM ASYLUM
Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean is a very small scale psychological thriller entirely self-contained within the Arkham Asylum walls. We have a hard time believing Warner Brothers would ever go for such a small scale story. Where is the spectacle? Where are the huge stakes?
In reality, the stakes are massive because Batman’s sanity is at stake, but the problem is big studios think that they can sell their movie to the public with huge set pieces and explosions when all we really want is a fantastic story with characters that we can root for. If that includes huge explosions, amazing CGI and exotic settings, that’s fine. But they are not prerequisites for a captivating story, and Arkham Asylum isn’t about big explosions. It has such a fantastic premise, but that’s probably not enough for Warner Brothers to adapt it.
2. INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US
The DCEU has been trying to lighten up the tone of its movies after the disastrous Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. Given that, it is more that likely that they will steer clear of this story line which involves a lot of dark, violent imagery which includes the death of many major characters and Superman breaking Batman’s spine, the DCEU will not touch this series.
After Superman inadvertently kills Lois Lane after being poisoned with Scarecrow’s fear toxin, he takes a radical stance: he becomes a dictator in an attempt to prevent any other supervillains from causing people more harm. This dictatorship was teased in the Batman v Superman “knightmare” that Batman had, but chances are they won’t go through with it given the tonal shift they are going for now.
1. ALL-STAR BATMAN & ROBIN, THE BOY WONDER
Anyone who read All-Star Batman and Robin written by Frank Miller and drawn by Jim Lee knows what we’re talking about. Although there were two of Batman’s greatest artists working on this project, the result was less than stellar. At least people were able to make a drinking game out of how many times Batman would say “I’m the goddamn Batman.” So it has that going for it. This story revolves around Robin’s origin and how Batman shaped him into a great fighter.
The problem is that none of the characters resemble anything we’d come to expect from a Batman comic. The comics were so bad that work on it was suspended indefinitely, so we’ll never get a real conclusion to the story (not that anyone is complaining). The DCEU would never adapt anything from this storyline because there is sadly nothing worthwhile here despite the talent involved.
Are there any other Batman related stories you think would never ht the big screen? Let us know in the comments!
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