When the news broke that Ben Affleck’s solo Batman film would feature him both as the star and behind the camera as director, many fans cheered at the news that he and writer Geoff Johns would be given “complete creative control.” So what’s next for the Caped Crusader?
Here are our thoughts for the Batfleck solo film, lovingly adapted from one of the greatest Batman graphic novels of all time, into a movie that we’re calling…
The Batman: Arkham
First things first, what’s in a name? Because we really want to see a load of Batfleck films, we’re going to need a way to distinguish them. Obviously we don’t want to step on any toes and call it something like The Batman: Dark Knight, or cause confusion by giving it the same name as a game, so let’s keep it simple and striking.
Story-wise the graphic novel Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean would be a stunning descent into madness to see on the big screen – and unlike any Batflick we’ve seen before.
When The Joker and the other criminals take over Arkham (meaning the inmates are literally running the asylum) it’s up to Batman to go in and face them. When he arrives – to find out this is all part of an elaborately evil April Fools joke – Batman is taken deep into the lion’s den, and given the challenge: he must survive one night in the asylum, before the rogues gallery track him down and kill him.
It’s very tense stuff.
If there’s one thing that Batman v Superman got right, it was Bruce Wayne’s ability to kick a lot of ass. That scene when he crashes into the warehouse and takes out a small army of thugs is one of the serious highlights from the film.
So for Batfleck’s first film by himself, we want to see that intensity turned all the way up to 11. What should be its biggest influence? The Raid. It’s a claustrophobic fistfight of a film, spending 99% of its screen time in a seedy apartment building, following a SWAT team moving up floor-by-floor to take down the crime boss at the top.
It’s ridiculously awesome.
To prove it, here’s a clip; it gets rather violent rather fast, and has a few rather savage kills. So, probably best to slap a NSFW tag up:
Stylish without ever losing its focus, The Raid is a joy to watch, which doesn’t mess around when it comes to unnecessary filmmaking tropes. This is something that Affleck should remember in the director’s chair (and something that we need to sit Zack Snyder down and have a long conversation about).
So we’ve got our source material and we’ve got our visual style, but what’s our plot for The Batman: Arkham? Let’s break it down…
Begin in the Batcave. We see a younger Batfleck than we did in BvS, dressed in battered armour. He drops to the ground, clutching something. A body. Robin’s body, bloody, battered and lifeless, the spray paint reading HA HA HA JOKE’S ON YOU BATMAN is still fresh. He pulls his cowl off, screaming in a blind rage.
You’re onboard so far right? This obviouslt depends on what they do in Suicide Squad; it would be excellent to see The Joker kill Robin there, but save seeing the fallout on Batman’s end until we get to this film.
The story jumps forward, a short period of time, to events that closely follow the start of the book. Commissioner Gordon (who NEEDS to be played by JK Simmons) gets a phone call.
“Hello Jimmy,” comes the now familiar voice of Jared Leto‘s Clown Prince of Crime. “I want to speak to our mutual friend, and be snappy about it, I’d hate to see something bad happen to poor Pearl here…” we hear the struggling gasp of an Arkham intern down the phone, followed by the maniacal laugh.
From here we stick closely to the book – Batman meets Gordon, tells his there’s been a riot at Arkham, lead by The Joker; this is when we can really foreshadow how much he genuinely hates him for what he did, and hint at the fact that Batman had beaten his adversary to within an inch of his life the last time they met, because of the death of Robin.
Wayne agrees to The Joker’s terms, who releases the prisoners and bids him welcome to the asylum; “We’re all mad here,” he says, again tipping the hat to the book.
Now once we’re in Arkham, we’re here for pretty much the duration. We want to give this a claustrophobic feel similar to The Raid, showing off Batman’s descent as he is surrounded by his villains. And surrounded he is: in one of the building’s grand halls, they have all gathered. We see those we’ve already established in Suicide Squad (Killer Croc, Boomerang, and of course Harley Quinn is side by side with Mister J.) and so many more, from the daft (throw in guys like The Mad Hatter, or Calendar Man) to the deadly (Clayface, Mr Freeze, Two Face… more on him later). This would be one hell of a reveal.
This is when they set him the challenge: survive the night, and we go back to our cells. No questions asked. Batman knows he can’t trust a single person in this room, but what choice does he have?
Now you have him, travelling from corridor to corridor, room to room, from the cells to the morgue to the very depths of the old Arkham house itself, all the while just trying to survive.
Just like in the book, you can give him the one-on-one face offs with some of the villains, giving some screen time and character building to the likes of Poison Ivy and Scarecrow – let’s see a little history between Bats and the baddies.
This can all lead to the final showdown between The Joker, Batman… and Two Face. In the book Harvey Dent is a broken man, as the asylum have been trying to get him to kick the habit of using his coin to decide life’s outcomes. It’s a very tense moment in the book, when he and the coin are reunited to decide Batman’s fate.
With the Dark Knight emerging at the end (in our version he can get a few punches in on The Joker to say goodbye, because why not?) into the first rays of daylight, we conclude a gripping, action-packed rollercoaster of a film that puts its foot on the accelerator early, never letting up.
No need for The Justice League, this is 100% a Batman story. Dear Warner Bros and DC, give us a call, yeah?