Dear DCEU: Ways To A Successful Batman Movie Franchise

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Over the weekend I watched The Dark Knight for the millionth time. It’s one of the Batman movies that never gets old. Maybe because he ventures beyond the parameters of the typical superhero movie.

DC Comics and Warner Bros. launched their extended movie universe with Man of Steel, which – for the most part – was a baby seal clubbed to death by some fans and the press for its ultra dark look at Superman. A bad start considering the success that Iron Man gave Marvel and Disney as the launching point for its extended movie universe.

The DCEU followed up with 2016’s Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, the latter collecting far more money than the former. Despite both movies’ interpretations of Batman and his array of characters, improvements can and should be made.

Let’s face facts: Beside Batman, DC and Warner Bros. have been unable to create another successful superhero franchise. That may change with Wonder Woman later this year, but if it doesn’t, there’s always Batman to fall back on.

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Affleck is hard at work on a script for The Batman, but there’s more to mine from that mythology than just the Caped Crusader. Here are a few ideas…

1) TAKE A LESSON FROM BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES

I recently read the bible for the animated series and it offers insight into how Bruce Timm, Alan Burnett, Eric Radomski, and Paul Dini created the successful series. Most notable was their insistence that Batman’s origin was ALMOST NEVER to be entirely focused on.

That’s a tip the movies could use. Christopher Nolan’s brilliant retelling of the character’s origin in Batman Begins pretty much cements the fact that it shouldn’t be the focus of another movie. That should include any flashbacks to the Wayne murders like in BVS. Don’t rehash the same story we know and have seen depicted numerous times since Tim Burton’s Batman.

 

2) TAKE A LESSON FROM JEPH LOEB AND TIM SALE

Batman

In my opinion, Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale are responsible for THE greatest Batman story ever told, The Long Halloween. Even its follow-up, Dark Victory, has its moments.

During Loeb and Sale’s collaboration, not once do they give a lot of pages to the Wayne murders. When they show us Thomas and Martha, it’s in flashbacks to when Bruce was a child, often having some relation to the case Batman is currently working on.

Take Batman: Madness for example. Batman is hunting the Mad Hatter, who has kidnapped Barbara Gordon for a Halloween tea party. Until Leob and Sale’s depiction of the Hatter, the character was D-List, at best. But they made the Hatter a villain who disturbs Batman like no other.

How? By linking the Alice and Wonderland theme to Bruce growing up. “It’s just the thing for a rainy day,” is what Martha Wayne told her son Bruce during a torrential storm. She read Alice to him and sparked his imagination. Unfortunately, this happened on the same day when Bruce’s parents would be murdered. The Hatter’s mania causes Batman to think about his mother, showing us his sorrow in a different way.

Just because Thomas and Martha Wayne are dead doesn’t mean they can’t add to the depth of Batman.

3) MAKE A ROBIN SPIN-OFF FRANCHISE

Many people don’t know there have been more Robins other than Dick Grayson. When I started reading Batman comics in the early 1990s and Robin was referred to as “Tim”, I had no idea what the hell was going on.

We know Batman’s past, but we don’t know Robin’s. Giving Grayson, Jason Todd, and Tim Drake their own individual movies to tell their stories would be refreshing. Plus it would help to explain the importance of a Robin to Batman.

The Grayson movie could cover the death of his parents, teaming up with Batman, and taking down Tony Zucko.

The Todd movie could begin a year after the previous movie. Grayson goes off to Gotham University and Batman takes in Jason Todd as a new Robin. It’s clearly a mistake and ends with Jason’s death at the hands of the Joker.

A Tim Drake movie could begin months after Todd’s death, with Batman on a rampage, violently taking out his villains in a way to excise his pain and guilt. Grayson can’t help. It’s only through Tim Drake, who deduces Batman’s identity and shows Batman the importance of a Robin by his side, that Batman starts to become whole again.

I’d say do a Damian Wayne movie, but… Ugh. That character’s like Scrappy-Doo.

4) MAKE A BATGIRL MOVIE

This is a no-brainer. Why it hasn’t been done yet is a real mystery. The movie would more or less draw from three comic book storylines: Wanted (from The New 52), The Killing Joke, and The Black Mirror by Scott Snyder. While her torture and crippling by the Joker would be a factor, it wouldn’t be the main event. The protagonist here would be her brother, James, Jr. It’s an opportunity to not only show what makes Barbara Gordon tick, but to go deeper into the Gordon family.

These are just a few ideas, but ones that could bring more of the Batman mythology to life. What do you think? Maybe some of the villains could have their own movies

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Ryan Malik
Ryan is a screenwriter with a BFA in Film from The School of Visual Arts in New York City. He's a connoisseur of Batman, Ghostbusters, Hitchcock, Scorsese, Stephen King, and Pop-Tarts. Tweet me @Theaterfilms1