Batman is one of the most iconic superheroes of all time and one of DC’s flagship superheroes. Because of this, the Dark Knight has had more comic stories than just about any other hero one can think of. The story of a billionaire orphan who trained to enact vengeance on the criminal underworld is apparently a story people want to read and one that only gets more developed and interesting as the years go by.
Because of how popular the character is, there has been no shortage of Batman movies, TV shows, and cartoons. No matter who you are, there’s at least one product involving this character that you remember. Most properties involving Batman have been well-received and critically acclaimed.
Each show or movie takes inspiration from some Batman story that originated in the comics. Movies like Batman V Superman and The Dark Knight Rises each borrow things from all kinds of Batman stories. However, there are plenty of comic arcs that have yet to see the light of day on the big or small screen.
While the animated universe has adapted a lot of these stories, we have yet to see movies and television shows show us the highlights of the Batman Universe. Fans of the character know a lot of stories that deserve this big screen treatment.
Here are 15 Dark Batman stories that every fan wants to see ASAP.
15. The Dark Knight Returns
This one is a no-brainer. The Dark Knight Returns is one of the greatest Batman stories ever told, and it’s easy to see why. Seeing a Gotham City decades after the glory days of the Dark Knight is as interesting as it is heart-pounding. Batman has since hung up the cape and cowl, but dark circumstances begin coming to light that motivate him to don the suit once again. Along the way, readers get to see different takes on classic villains as well as a Joker who finds his purpose in life once again.
Now, The Dark Knight Returns has already made its way to the animated world as a two-part cartoon film. What we’re arguing in this list is that the story itself needs to be adapted for the big screen. Batman V Superman had elements of this conflict near the climax of the movie, but it doesn’t come close to the greatness of the source material.
How would they do it? Easy: they simply make the film in its own separate timeline in the future and reference things that happened in other related DC movies, similar to what Logan did. Look how that movie turned out.
14. Son of the Demon
We see the brooding side of Batman a lot in movies, and that’s all fine and good, but we want to see him a bit more vulnerable. The only Batman film thus far to bring in Talia al Ghul is The Dark Knight Rises, and she was fairly misused in it. Now that the DCEU has launched, it would be the perfect time to adapt Son of the Demon to the big screen.
The story puts Batman and Ra’s al Ghul on the same side as they work to solve a powerful murder. As their working relationship grows, Batman gets closer to Talia and she becomes pregnant. From that point on, Batman’s entire demeanor changes. He is protective and scared of losing his child and the woman he loves. This is a side of Batman that most people have yet to see. Not only could it spawn some Oscar-worthy performances, but it could also be a way of introducing Damian Wayne into something other than animation. I’m also not going to give away any spoilers, but a scene in that comic would also make for a perfect end credits scene in a properly adapted movie.
13. Under the Hood / Death in the Family
I think most Batman fans agree with me when I say that it’s a travesty that one of the most pivotal stories for the Dark Knight has yet to be properly adapted on the big screen. Of course, I’m talking about Death in the Family which eventually led to Under the Hood. I name these two together because they’re essentially two parts to a gripping tale. Jason Todd has never properly appeared in a movie or live-action television show. Fans have been clamoring for the Red Hood for years, and it’s high time that we got him.
What gives this story unprecedented potential is that Jason Todd already exists in the DCEU and is presumed dead. This provides a great opportunity for the writers at DC to do their own cinematic take on Under the Hood. Seeing a tortured and powerful Red Hood would not only give audiences a great catalyst to see what Ben Affleck can really do as the Dark Knight but also give casual fans a real look at this character. Death in the Family can also be incorporated in the film as some flashback scenes to further flesh out the story. Let’s just hope that they do it better than Arkham Knight was done.
12. Batman: Year One
We know just about everything there is to know about Batman at this point. He’s had all kinds of adventures and taken down all kinds of bad guys. After Frank Miller played his hand at The Dark Knight Returns, he came back to DC to help work on Batman: Year One. This comic goes back to the basics of the Caped Crusader. We get to see how his heroics were different when he started as a vigilante. The cops still wanted to take him down, and his name was largely a myth among the people of the city. A film like this could be excellent and focused if done correctly.
I’m not arguing that we need another look at Batman’s origin. Rather, I’m arguing that we would like to see a full-length movie about an inexperienced Batman learning to deal with cops and criminals, leading to a real super villain coming out of the shadows. Batman: Year One was also adapted into an animated movie, but again, we’re not counting those. This story is one that needs to be on the big screen and could be a celebration of all things Batman.
Knightfall is a story that was very loosely adapted in The Dark Knight Rises. The similarities between the two stories are that they both have Bane, and Bane breaks Batman’s back. While it was a nice scene to see in the movie, a true adaptation of Knightfall would be one for the history books. Bane’s tactics of freeing all of the inmates and sending them all over Gotham would make for a fun action scene to watch. (If you don’t believe me, watch the first 10 minutes of The Lego Batman Movie). We could see the Dark Knight slowly become more exhausted as he saves the day. Then when he finally gets home to take a breather, the powerful Bane busts into Wayne Manor and takes down the vigilante.
Another reason why Knightfall could work so well as a film is because it could introduce us to a proper version of Azrael, who has never been present on the big screen. Granted, there would need to be some changes in order for the movie to juggle him into the mix, but with the right amount of care and no meddling from Warner Bros., this movie could easily work.
10. The Man Who Laughs
Batman: Year One already has enough of a story to be properly made into a movie. However, if the higher ups at DC aren’t willing to adapt it, there’s something else they could use instead: The Man Who Laughs. The title of this comic was taken from a fictional character who would later inspire the creation of the Joker. As you can probably guess, The Man Who Laughs centers around the Joker and more specifically, his first encounter with Batman.
The story catapults itself directly after Batman: Year One and gives a modern take on how one of the greatest rivalries in comics history began. Seeing how the Joker originally posed a threat to the Caped Crusader is something that audiences would really like to see. (In the DCEU, it would also give the writers a chance to re-design Jared Leto‘s portrayal.) Again, it would have to be played off of the long history we’ve known of the character and serve as a proper spring for all of their conflicts to come. The Man Who Laughs could be included in a Batman: Year One movie, but that might be a bit too obvious.
9. A Lonely Place of Dying
For years, we’ve seen countless iterations of the relationship between Batman and Robin. However, when you start to think about it, it seems a little messed up. Batman brings a young boy onto his crusade against the toughest of Gotham City’s criminals. Why in the world would he do such a thing? That single, fundamental question is answered in A Lonely Place of Dying.
The story takes place after the death of Jason Todd. Batman finds himself in a broken place. He attempts to deal with his pain by taking on all kinds of villains but ends up with more scrapes and bruises than he can handle. Along the way, Tim Drake notices this plight and seeks out Dick Grayson in an attempt to bring back the Dynamic Duo.
What makes A Lonely Place of Dying so special is that it shows why Batman needs a Robin in his life. It strengthens the bond he has with every young boy he ever mentored. It changes the perspective of the reader, and that’s something that would lend itself very well to the big screen.
8. Batman: Year 100
The many stories of Batman are not all limited to the classic tales of Bruce Wayne. Some of the better ones actually come from re-imaginings and alternate timelines. (Screw the continuity!) One of the highlights is Batman: Year 100. Set in 2039 Gotham City (roughly 100 years after the character first debuted in the comics), Batman has once again become a legend. When a government agent is killed in cold blood, it then falls on Commissioner Gordon’s grandson to find the mysterious vigilante and find out what he knows. The story also features a different take on Robin to boot.
As is the case with Hollywood these days, it seems that when a movie can be focused and tell its own story, the results are generally good. Batman: Year 100 would be another opportunity for the writers at DC to tell an original story. It would be a way of bringing Batman back to his roots (like with Batman: Year One) as well as providing a new take on the mythos of the character. The comic itself is so focused that we don’t even know if Batman is Bruce Wayne or a completely different character, but it’s knowledge that is irrelevant to the entire story.
7. Gotham by Gaslight
Taking a tale as old as time and providing a unique spin on it leads to some memorable moments if done properly. That was the case with Gotham by Gaslight. This comic is on the list for many of the same reasons that Batman: Year 100 is, but there are some differences as well. First of all, Gotham by Gaslight is tied by history, telling the story of a Bruce Wayne who lived in the 1800s. Instead of him fighting his classic villains, Bruce is instead pitted against the infamous Jack the Ripper.
Again, a story of this tone could benefit from being so focused. It would exist outside of any other continuity and likely be better because of it. Gotham by Gaslight would (in my opinion) best function as a TV series. It could focus on the detective aspects of Batman and devote a lot of time to his incarceration at Arkham Asylum and the connection to his family. Another possibility with Gotham by Gaslight would be to include it in an alternate universe in the Arrowverse. They could kill two birds with one stone: have an interesting Batman story and finally bring Bruce Wayne to party with Green Arrow and the Flash.
6. The Court of Owls
There is more than one legend in Gotham City, and they are not limited to just people dressed as bats and clowns. The Court of Owls began as a cute little nursery rhyme but quickly turned into a myth until one fateful day in Gotham, it was believed that they really didn’t exist. However, they had apparently been biding their time, watching Bruce Wayne, in order to effectively defeat him. The Court then appears, captures the Batman, and breaks his mind. The group had a hand in the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne, and the conflict became incredibly personal after that moment.
The reason The Court of Owls would work so well on the big screen is that it provides a unique challenge that is more difficult than anything the Dark Knight has faced before. On top of that, the Court then musters all of their assassins and wages war against Gotham City. From that point on, Batman calls the entire Bat-Family for support, and the war truly begins. I think it goes without saying that seeing Batman, Red Hood, Nightwing, and Batgirl teaming up on the big screen would be worth watching.
5. Batman and Son
Out of all the Robins, you could argue that none defined Batman more than his own son: Damian Wayne. In the past, DC had played with the idea of Bruce Wayne having a child in Son of the Demon, but that idea really gets put at the forefront with Batman and Son. While the name is a little on the nose, the resulting story is much more interesting. Damian was sent to Bruce all of a sudden, but it was revealed that the boy had much to learn. He had lived and trained with the League of Assassins all his life, and because of that, he was very unhinged.
Damian Wayne has yet to be put on the big screen, and now that we have a live action Batman who has gone through several Robins already, the time couldn’t be more perfect. Seeing the Caped Crusader deal with having a son and raising him is one of the most potent things DC has ever done with the character. Place a conflict involving Man-Bat and Talia al Ghul on top of that, and Warner Bros. is already well on their way to printing money.
4. Batman: Hush
Seeing Batman have to deal with those who seem to be one step ahead of him is always a fun time for the audience, and that’s why Batman: Hush makes this list. It’s not often that we are introduced to a Batman villain who knows the identity of the Dark Knight right off the bat, but it’s another thing entirely when that villain knows how to break the bat (and not in a Bane kind of way). This new bad guy named Hush gathers all of Gotham City’s worst and lets them loose all over town. Batman then works together with other members of the Bat-Family in order to stop them, but Hush still poses a current threat. Along the way, more details about his past are uncovered, and Bruce is left to deal with his inner demons.
Batman: Hush would be such a great story to watch on the big screen solely for the fact of Hush himself. The story also deals with Batman and Catwoman’s relationship — something that is rarely explored in detail. Batman: Hush overall hits all of the right beats for a good story, and with a wide cast of characters, the success of this movie would be high.
3. Batman: Endgame
Batman and the Joker have gone through a lot of battles over the years, but the conflict shown in Batman: Endgame is taken to a whole new level. The comic opens with Bruce in a penthouse with Alfred when Superman busts in and tries to kill him. Before long, the entire Justice League is fighting against Batman, all trying to end his life. Eventually, Batman discovers that they were brainwashed by the Joker to do so, and their biggest battle begins.
There is a lot to Batman: Endgame. It serves as the finale to comics like Batman: Eternal and portrays the Joker in a much darker way. Seeing Batman have to deal with someone who has become so unhinged is always a treat to watch, and the fact that he fought the Justice League by himself is something worth looking into as well. Batman: Endgame would be an excellent movie to close off Batman’s place in the DCEU, featuring the entire Justice League and a final appearance of the Joker. It’s a no-brainer at this point, but all we can do is hope and pray that DC will come through.
2. The Long Halloween
Batman: The Long Halloween is another follow-up to Batman: Year One. While The Man Who Laughs showcased how the Joker came into the picture, The Long Halloween shows how Batman’s villains became so extreme. All kinds of murders are happening across Gotham City on a particular holiday, and it’s up to Batman, Jim Gordon, and Harvey Dent to figure out what exactly is going on. Along the way, plenty of other familiar faces appear, establishing just how screwed up Gotham City would become.
While the Two Face origin has been done before on the big screen, a movie based on The Long Halloween could have some alterations. First of all, a Gotham City ravaged by early versions of the classic villains would be interesting enough on its own. Then there’s the Holiday Killer himself. Not only would that provide an opportunity for a new villain, but it would also give the writers a chance to make the Calendar Man someone worth fearing rather than mocking. There isn’t anything mind-blowing about The Long Halloween, but that’s part of its beauty. It tells a cohesive narrative that establishes consistent behavior among characters. In a story about superheroes, can we really ask for any more than that?
1. Death of the Family
What if the Joker lost all of his humor and instead decided to become completely in love with the idea of killing whomever he desired? By the time Death of the Family took place, the Joker had already been seemingly killed and even cut off his own face. But, when Harley Quinn tells Batman that Mister J is back and more different than he’s ever been, Bruce Wayne knows it’s about to become terrible. Death of the Family showcases the Joker at his absolute worst — no longer is he held back by jokes and comical gags. With this new philosophy in mind, he makes a B line for Batman and the entire Bat-Family.
The Joker has always been a scary character, but Death of the Family takes it to a whole new level. Fans who haven’t read the story should be quite shocked at how this comic arc turns out. Furthermore, it would necessitate the appearance of the entire Bat-Family, which only makes Joker’s antics in this story that much more disturbing (especially that dinner party). It wouldn’t be something that just everyone could watch, but Batman fans everywhere would love it all the same.