In the nearly eighty years since his inception, Batman has remained one of DC’s most popular and enduring characters. Throughout that time, many wonderful stories about the Dark Knight have been told. Batman has also been approached from a variety of different angles. Yet when it comes to the live-action interpretations, Hollywood has only scratched the surface of the Batman lore.
There are many great comic books that filmmakers could turn into terrific Batman movies. Although, if we’re being honest, we suspect that most of the Batman directors only read a handful of comics. There’s so much more to Bruce Wayne’s alter ego than just the Dark Knight. But if Matt Reeves or any future director is looking for a primer, we’ve got a few suggestions.
A Death In The Family
Among Batman fans, A Death in the Family is probably best known for the untimely death of Jason Todd at the hands of the Joker. But the events of the book are far more important for their impact on Batman’s psyche. Admittedly, A Death in the Family is very dated, and it’s entire conception was just a marketing gimmick. It also has one of the weirdest and most convoluted plot twists we’ve ever seen. And that particular twist has nothing to do with Robin’s death!
Truth be told, it’s nearly impossible to do a straightforward adaptation of this story. It would need a very through update, to bring the story into a contemporary setting. But the real reason it needs a live-action adaptation is that Batman is haunted by Jason’s death for years. It’s a crucial part of Batman lore that challenges him and forces him to face some uncomfortable questions. After Jason’s murder, Batman no longer wanted a partner. But his ongoing despair ultimately gave Batman one of his best Robins: Tim Drake. That’s more than enough reason to revisit this era again.
Batman: Under The Red Hood
Speaking of Jason Todd, Under the Red Hood is the perfect follow up to A Death in the Family. Even though Jason was “dead” for nearly two decades, this comic book story brought him back to life. He was re-imagined as the uber-violent anti-hero known as the Red Hood. The story was adapted as an animated film in 2010, but that film’s success proves that it’s an essential Batman story.
Under the Red Hood forces Batman to wrestle with the demons of his past. It also demonstrates the effect that Jason’s death had on his morality. Jason’s anger at both Batman and the Joker was another fantastic element worth exploring again. Just because Jason “lived” again, it didn’t mean that he and Bruce would ever be on the same page again.
Batman: Hush is quite simply one of the best Batman books of the modern era. Created by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee, Hush introduces a mysterious villain with ties to Bruce Wayne and Batman. Hush also features a number of other notable villains form the rogues gallery. But the story is far more memorable for the way that it eventually changes Batman’s relationship with Catwoman.
Although Hush is getting an animated adaptation later this year, there’s something about it that feels so perfect for a live-action limited series. The story is so dense and far-reaching that a miniseries is the only real way to do it justice. Like all great Batman stories, Hush also features a superb mystery for Bruce to solve, and it also further informs his backstory.
Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm
As a huge fan of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, it’s kind of blasphemous to even suggest a live action remake of the 1993 animated classic. Mask of the Phantasm is also an original story from the Batman: The Animated Series creative team. It’s legitimately one of Batman’s greatest tales, regardless of the medium. Additionally, it introduces Andrea Beaumont, a woman who changed Bruce Wayne’s life forever.
The film is a love story at heart, which is pretty unique for a Batman tale. A few of the live-action films have tapped into Bruce’s love life to varying degrees. But a live-action Mask of the Phantasm could prove to be the definitive Batman love story. Moreover, the film’s design aesthetic could offer visuals that no other Batman movie can match.
The Court of Owls/Night of Owls
As the first major arc from The New 52 version of Batman, The Court of Owls – along with it’s Talons – gave the Dark Knight all he could handle and more. Created by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, the story explores the history of Gotham. It completely changed everything Batman thought he knew about his city. The Owls and their Talons proved to be nearly insurmountable for the Dark Knight. The Owls are more of a mental threat than a physical one. However, their attack on Batman’s psyche is so effective that he’s literally and figuratively upended. The Court of Owls are a threat that Batman can’t simply just lock into Arkham.
While the Owls have been depicted in both Gotham and the animated Batman vs. Robin, both of those incarnations have been less than faithful to the original two-arc storyline. A live-action film would need to focus solely on Batman’s initial quarrel with the Owls. That includes the amazing climax in Wayne Manor and the Batcave.
Which Batman stories would you like to see adapted in live-action? Let us know in the comment section below!