Plans for a standalone Batman movie have been uncertain since the announcement of the DC Cinematic Universe. With no concrete release date, fans of the Dark Knight were left questioning how big of a role our winged detective would play in this universe. Warner Bros has recently gone on record confirming plans for a solo Batman film in the next 5 years. A report from Latino Review is now claiming Ben Affleck will be directing the upcoming solo film currently titled The Batman with a release date of November 2018. Now that we know that the film is coming, we are left wondering what kind of story we can expect to see.
Fortunately Hollywood has barely scratched the surface on potential engrossing plot-lines. Both Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan have done decent jobs bringing Batman’s mythology to life in their own respective styles but the films still fell short of what they should have been. I’m sorry Schumacher, you simply don’t belong here. Seriously though, Nolan’s Batverse trilogy are the only films out there that touched on some of the published material with Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and Dark Knight Rises paying tribute to Year One, The Killing Joke, and Dark Knight Returns respectively. Snyder’s Batverse might finally depict the Batman and Gotham we deserve; or at lease hope for.
There are plenty great Batman stories that have yet to be brought to the big screen. For this list I will focus on stories with relationships that have not been explored yet and stories that makes sense within the context of Batman’s veteran status as a vigilante. The Killing Joke for example is an amazing story but we want avoid revisiting the Batman/Joker relationship head-on for Batman’s solo outing due to Christian Bale and Health Ledger’s recent portrayal. Year One is another great choice but its set in the early years with a young Jim Gordon when Bruce Wayne first donned the cape and cowl. Follow up films can explore these stories fully or in flashbacks but the first film following an older discontent Batman should avoid them.
So without further delay, my top 3 choices are The Long Halloween, Arkham Asylum, and Under the Hood. The former would allow Batman to showcase some of his lesser exploited strengths: his intelligence and his detective skills. Batman’s intelligence, use of strategy, and detective skills are what gives him the illusion of superpowers especially when standing alongside a team of Atlanteans, Gods, and Amazonians…well that and his intricate array of gadgets. It would represent the true film-noir detective tales that Batman originates from. This story would allow the solo film to focus more on Gotham’s criminal underground and leave the supernatural worldly threats to Justice League films and other films in the shared universe.
Since Warner Bros (with the DCCU) are adamant about playing catch-up with Disney Studios (and the MCU) Arkham Asylum would at least serve as an introduction to many of the villains that will be featured in the upcoming Suicide Squad film. A prison riot and hostage situation in Arkham would prove to be challenging for Batman as he is forced to face many of his sworn enemies at once with limited tactical advantages. Ultimately Batman would have to overcome his personal demons and defeat his most dangerous foes exhibiting his stealth and combat skills.
Under the Hood has already been adapted into an animated film and is DC Comic’s most successful one to date. The timeline fits well with the older grizzled Batman that Affleck will be portraying. The story is fantastic, filled with plot twists, emotional complexity, and plenty of mature themes. This would serve as a deep look into Bruce Wayne’s disturbed psyche that doesn’t revolve around the death of his parents. Some of the more popular Batman characters like Nightwing and Joker would make their appearance without ever taking up too much screen time.
A faithful film adaptation of Under the Hood is easily my first choice. It would appeal to both hardcore fans and casual movie goers alike which could make it the most commercially viable depiction of the caped crusader if successful. Through a series of flashbacks, this film could touch on Jason Todd’s death from A Death in the Family and Joker’s vicious attack on Barbara Gordon from The Killing Joke which would make reintroducing her as Oracle later on much easier. This story would work as the ultimate solo Batman film and would leave plenty of room for the franchise to grow.
If I had to pick a 4th choice, it would definitely be Hush. Hush serves as another great detective tale in which Batman sets out to discover the identity of a criminal mastermind who not only knows of his identity as Bruce Wayne but is also using some of Batman’s enemies and allies as pawns in a larger scheme to take him down. The story also focuses on one of Bruce Wayne’s childhood friends, Dr. Thomas Elliot who is a skilled surgeon and has grown quite envious of Bruce Wayne. This could be another great way to introduce all those villains in a new Batman movie and force Batman to fight in one of his greatest battles ever.