Created in 1939 by Bill Finger and Bob Kane, Batman is arguably the most popular comic book character of all time. Now in its 80th year of publication, the character has grown leaps and bounds in terms of its character development and has addressed a few key themes regarding loneliness, trauma, and mental illnesses.
One of the reasons why Batman is the most popular comic book character has to be attributed to the number of authors who have written his arcs over eight decades. From Grant Morrison’s subversive and psychedelic style in Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on a Serious Earth to Frank Miller’s gritty and flamboyant The Dark Knight Returns, The Dark Knight has been able to amass fans from all across the spectrum.
Since its first live-action adaptation in 1966, Batman has been portrayed by several actors for so many decades. Another reason for Batman’s nonpareil popularity must be attributed to the number of movies which have released showcasing his adventures. From Adam West to Robert Pattinson, no other character in comic book history has been represented so many times by different actors on the silver screen.
After Tim Burton’s critically acclaimed Batman (1989), the sequels received mostly mild reviews. As a result, Batman’s popularity dipped a bit. With Christopher Nolan at the helm, the Caped Crusader once again became relevant with The Dark Knight trilogy which is considered as one of the finest trilogies of all time.
Now a part of the DC Extended Universe, it has been a tumultuous journey for Batman. A shaky start, Ben Affleck stepping down from the role, and fans’ scepticism regarding Robert Pattinson as the new Batman will determine the character’s future on the silver screen.
Matt Reeves has now been attached to The Batman (2021) which is a part of the DCEU. After months of speculation, it was revealed that Reeves will be adapting some parts of The Long Halloween for his detective-noir Batman movie. If everything goes seamlessly, we might finally witness so many acclaimed Batman comic books adapted on the silver screen. So, with hope in our heart, we have compiled a list of 10 best Batman comics which should be adapted on the silver screen. Interested? Let’s hop in!
10. The Long Halloween
Written by Jeph Loeb, The Long Halloween is one of the top comic books which comes to mind when it comes to live-action adaptation. Unlike most Batman comics, The Long Halloween explores the detective side of the Dark Knight. There’s a reason why Batman is also known as World’s Greatest Detective and The Long Halloween does justice to that part.
In the story, Gotham is haunted by a new villain called the Holiday who murders notable Gotham citizens on special occasions. As a result, it is a race against time for Batman to find the killer before he/she strikes on the next holiday. The Long Halloween also explores the major Gotham based characters like Carmine Falcone, Sal Maroni, Selina Kyle/Catwoman and introduces Two-Face as the story is set entirely in Gotham. With Matt Reeves confirming that The Batman (2021) will be a detective-noir movie based on The Long Halloween, we can barely contain our excitement to see the detective side of Batman instead of grit and fists.
9. Batman: Dark Victory
As a successor to The Long Halloween, Batman: Dark Victory focuses a lot more on Robin and Catwoman than just Batman. Penned by Jeph Loeb, Batman: Dark Victory visits the mysterious past of Catwoman and introduces Robin as a major ally of Batman in his crusade against crime.
After the revelation of the Holiday Killer in The Long Halloween, Batman: Dark Victory is a perfect comic book for adaptation. As Matt Reeves has said that he has planned a trilogy, a few elements from Dark Victory can easily be adapted in the second movie showcasing the entire rogue gallery of Batman.
8. Batman: Year One
The year 1986-87 was when Frank Miller dazzled the comic book industry with consecutive hits. Penning three critically acclaimed comic books in a span of a year is no mean task, even for seasoned writers. Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight Returns were two arcs of the Dark Knight set in his early days of crime-fighting and twilight of his career respectively. Miller also wrote Daredevil: Born Again for Marvel which was another critical success.
Batman: Year One explores Batman’s early days of crime-fighting when he truly became the Caped Crusader. A gritty, matured, and realistic take on Gotham’s finest, Year One portrays the friendship between Batman and Jim Gordon as both try to fight crime from two ends of their jurisdiction. Already taken as an inspiration by Christopher Nolan for his Batman Begins, another truly faithful adaptation of Year One can make the movie one of the greatest origin stories ever created. Also, imagine the iconic “Ladies, Gentlemen, you have eaten well. You’ve eaten Gotham’s wealth. Its spirit. Your feast is nearly over. From this moment on…none of you are safe.”
7. Court of Owls
Written by Scott Snyder and drawn by Greg Capullo, the Court of Owls is a fairly recent addition to Batman’s villain list.
As Bruce Wayne declares to develop Gotham, the Court of Owls become active and try to assassinate him. As Batman, Bruce investigates the secret society which deploys undead assassins called Talons. The Court of Owls can be an interesting adaptation for a future film as it can explore the theme of a secret society fighting with Batman to be the top urban myth of Gotham. Also, the Court of Owls storyline perfectly balances intense, fast-paced hand-to-hand combat with the hardboiled detective-style investigation. A formidable opponent, the Court of Owls also open up the opportunity of bringing all the members of the Bat-family on the silver screen simultaneously as it happened in the comics.
6. Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on a Serious Earth
Grant Morrison’s Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on a Serious Earth is a psychedelic trip to the Batman lore. In a Batman meets Alice in Wonderland scenario, Morrison’s Arkham Asylum delves into the psychology of Batman as he starts breaking down mentally in Arkham Asylum.
A psychological horror story at its core, Arkham Asylum marks a departure from the usual superhero trope and explores themes surrounding mental illnesses and insanity. Deriving elements from Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory and Jungian archetypes, Arkham Asylum is a social commentary on mental illness and its effects, even on someone like Batman. With either Darren Aronofsky or Ari Aster at the helm, a movie on Arkham Asylum can potentially change the superhero landscape forever.
5. I am Suicide
Penned by Tom King, I am Suicide is an uncanny Batman comics. For starters, it might look just another prison break story but in reality, it is a break-in story led by the Dark Knight himself.
In order to gain access to the super-villain Psycho-Pirate, Batman needs to break into the Santa Prisca prison in the Caribbean. The problem? It is guarded by Batman’s notable arch-enemy Bane. In order to make this plan a success, Batman makes his own Suicide Squad with Catwoman in the team. If adapted as a movie, the story can add depth to the love-hate relationship between Catwoman and Batman as they fight a common enemy. Also, a tie-in with the Suicide Squad with Batman as the leader can make it an unforgettable movie experience. Imagining Robert Pattinson’s grim Batman leading a boisterous Harley Quinn played by Margot Robbie on the silver screen is enough for a massive nerdgasm.
4. Death in the Family
Batman: Death in the Family is one of the most pivotal arcs of the Dark Knight. Death in the Family marks Batman’s first major defeat in the form of an apparent death of Jason Todd aka Robin.
Death in the Family showcases a tortured Dark Knight reeling from the loss of Jason Todd. Captured by the Joker, Jason Todd is brutally killed by him with a crowbar which left comic book readers shocked at the time of its release. Teased in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice when a battered down Bruce Wayne takes a look at a half-burnt Robin costume with the Joker’s mockery ‘HA HA HA the joke’s on you!’ written on the suit, a future movie depicting the whole thing can showcase how far Batman is willing to go to protect his ideals which leads to our next suggestion…
3. Under the Hood
As a sequel to Death in the Family, Judd Winick’s Under the Hood shocked the readers once again after Jason Todd’s death in Death in the Family.
For most comic book characters, death is rarely permanent. Instead, it is a way of opening new pathways to re-create the characters. Under the Hood brings back Jason Todd from his death using the good ol’ Lazarus Pit. Now back to life, Jason Todd is no longer the Robin but dons a new costume. Using lethal techniques to fight crime, he finds himself at odds against Batman. As the arc tests loyalties and ideologies, it elevates the status of Batman as he does not drop his ideals even when pushed to his limits. Zack Snyder, are you listening?
2. Bruce Wayne: Murderer?
An interesting take on the life of the Caped Crusader, Bruce Wayne: Murderer? explores the importance of the persona of Bruce Wayne in Batman’s life as his crime-fighting career has effectively blurred the lines between the two.
Falsely framed for a murder, Bruce Wayne finds himself behind the bars of a prison cell. To prove his innocence and unable to contain his rising frustration, he breaks out to initiate his personal investigation. Now a wanted fugitive, Batman decides to give up his Bruce Wayne identity for good before Catwoman intervenes and makes him see reason. Another hardboiled detective work, Bruce Wayne: Murderer? once again re-inforces the detective side of the Dark Knight.
1. Batman: Hush
Another gem from Jeph Loeb, Batman: Hush received critical acclaim upon its release. Its tightly written plot, shocking twists, and Jim Lee’s superb artwork makes Hush one of the greatest Batman comics ever created.
Facing an enemy from his past, Batman must determine his identity before things get out of his control. Wearing a trenchcoat and wrapped in bandages, Hush attacks Batman on a personal level which leaves the Dark Knight severely distraught. Pushing Batman to the verge of self-doubt, Hush effortlessly loops in most of the characters from Batman’s famous rogue-gallery. From Poison Ivy to the Joker, everyone gets time to shine, which makes Hush one of the hottest comics to adapt for a live-action movie. An emotional character evaluation of Batman, Hush also explores the romantic relationship between Batman and Catwoman. Also, a Superman cameo, ladies and gentlemen.
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Technically not a comic book, Mask of the Phantasm deserves a live-action movie on its own merit. Released in 1993, Mask of the Phantasm still remains one of the most loved animated Batman movies.
Introducing an original villain/anti-hero named Phantasm, Mask of the Phantasm explores the theme of vengeance and Batman’s morality. Instead of showing Selina Kyle as Bruce’s love interest, the movie introduces Andrea Beaumont aka Phantasm. On a mission to avenge her dead family, Andrea dons the costume of Phantasm and uses lethal methods, thus finding herself fighting against Batman himself. A bitter-sweet love story, Mask of the Phantasm can work as a movie set in Bruce Wayne’s initial days of crime-fighting.
Which Batman arc do you wish to see adapted on the silver screen? Let us know in the comments!