Batman and the Inevitable Sequel: Oh the Possibilities

Batman and the Inevitable Sequel: Oh the Possibilities

BY MATT TUCK, BLOGGER SUPREME

IG@matt.tuck.writer

FB@ The Comic Blog

What’s next for The Batman? From the Court of Owls to Hush and all points in between, let's explore the possibilities.

The cast and crew have given plenty of hints, not to mention the trail of breadcrumbs scattered throughout the movie. We already know the Penguin is getting an HBO Max series, and another streaming show centering on Arkham Asylum is coming. So where could it all lead?

THE COURT OF OWLS

With everything happening in the noir land of The Batman, the pieces are adding up to the puzzle of the Court of Owls. There were possible allusions to the Court in the movie, particularly the Riddler’s explanation that the Wayne and Arkham families were part of Gotham’s founding. The upcoming Arkham series should build on the centuries-old mystery connecting the two influential families, and it is likely to unearth a broader conspiracy. It all points to the true power pulling Gotham’s strings from the shadows, the deadly Court of Owls.

In the comics, this concept was the focal point of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman run during the ill-advised New 52 reboot. While much of the New 52 titles were panned, Snyder and Capullo’s take on Gotham and the introduction of the Court was well received. Think of the Court of Owls like Marvel’s Illuminati, secretly manipulating events from afar. The difference is that the Illuminati’s intent is to protect Earth; the Court serves their own needs, and the conspiracy dates back centuries. Their henchman is an undead ninja assassin, Talon, who executes anyone who threatens the cultish society. 

With the Arkham show on the way, it lays an easy path for Reeves to build the mythology surrounding the Court of Owls and Talon before unleashing them in The Batman sequel. For that matter, the next Batman: Arkham video game, Gotham Knights, will feature the Owls as the primary antagonists for the Bat-family. Maybe this takes a double shot of conjecture, but I noticed Snyder and Capullo’s names on The Batman credits, which could help connect the dots.

ARKHAM ASYLUM: A SERIOUS HOUSE ON SERIOUS EARTH

As soon as word spread that a new streaming series focusing on Arkham Asylum, many fans and theorists pointed towards the Batman: Arkham video game series. It is logical to assume the show will take some inspiration from the hugely popular games. Reeves has said the streaming series will feature a host of villains and will treat Arkham like a haunted house. Certainly, that does paint images of the Arkham games, but it could also follow the events of Grant Morrison’s 1989 graphic novel, Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth.

To this day, Arkham Asylum remains one of the more groundbreaking Joker stories ever printed. The plot is that Joker has taken control of Arkham. Similar to the video games, which were no doubt inspired by Morrison’s tale, Batman must fend off his old adversaries in order to reach the Clown Prince of Crime. 

What set the story apart at the time was its maturity and artwork. Instead of traditional pencils and inks, Dave McKean painted the cover and interiors for Arkham Asylum, giving the story an abstract quality that managed to encapsulate the inner workings of Joker’s demented mind. It bordered on being a horror story, and that could be the route Reeves is taking for what sounds like a horror show about Arkham. The issue also featured the first appearance of Amadeus Arkham, who will likely be a central figure to the plot.

KNIGHTFALL

The Dark Knight Rises did a loose interpretation of Knightfall, but there is room for so much more. This massive Bat-family crossover is among the most iconic events of the 1990s. While the finale was blase, and most fans would rather forget the short-lived Jean-Paul Valley time as a mech-suit Batman, Knightfall featured one of the most recognizable covers from the era with the image of Bane snapping Batman’s back across his knee.

Marvel and DC have made an artform out of writing off their classic heroes to get a cheap sales boost. DC led the charge in the ‘90s with The Death of Superman, which produced record-setting figures. Love it or hate it, any child of the ‘90s remembers mourning the Man of Steel’s demise at the hands of DC’s very own Hulk, Doomsday. On the heels of those sales, the editorial staff decided to do away with Bruce Wayne. Instead of killing him, Bane would cripple the Bat, making way for an all-new, all-different Batman before the inevitable return of Bruce provided yet another spike. 

The story was that Bane had returned to Gotham City, and he had a fool-proof plan to bring an end to the Caped Crusader. He attacked Arkham Asylum, freeing the legions of Batman’s villains to wreak havoc on Gotham. Batman had to put it overtime to round up the rogue’s gallery, with each threat a further step up the villainous ladder. To make matters worse, he chose to handle the situation alone, which proved to be his undoing. When Batman finally confronted Bane, he was physically and mentally exhausted. That gave Bane the calculated advantage. He overpowered Batman and broke his back on the iconic cover of Batman #497. 

With Bruce Wayne out of action, he tapped Azrael as the heir to the cape and cowl. Leaving his flaming sword behind, Jean-Paul Valley became the new Dark Knight. He defeated Bane and brought order to Gotham. Eventually, he became too extreme, and Bruce came out of retirement to lay the smackdown on JPV, who would return to the Azrael costume.

This could be the direction Reeves and company are going with the future installments of The Batman, and many theorists claim there was a Bane Easter egg in the movie. In the film’s climax, Pat-Bat fights off the Riddler’s armed and deranged followers as they plot to kill the newly elected mayor and everyone else in the building. Batman gets the upper hand on most of the Riddler’s henchmen, but one manages to deliver a pointblank double-barrel shotgun blast to the chest. Body armor or not, gunshots are extremely painful, so this was a welcome dose of reality for the Caped Crusader (we’ll ignore the close-range machine gun fire he shrugged off in the cool hallway fight scene). 

The big moment comes as Batman is on the verge of blacking out when Catwoman rescues him. Suddenly, Pat-Bat pulls a green vial from his pocket and injects a mysterious substance into his thigh. At first, I thought this was supposed to be adrenaline, but if Pulp Fiction taught me anything, it’s that adrenaline is injected directly into the heart. Also, I’m pretty sure adrenaline doesn’t look like lime Jell-O.

If that wasn’t adrenaline flowing through Pat-Bat’s veins, then what was it? The prevailing theory is that it was the infamous Venom, the same steroid-on-steroid substance that turns Bane from buff bad guy to giant, ‘roid-raging behemoth. 

If we put the Venom theory alongside the Arkham plot of the upcoming HBO Max series, this could add up to Knightfall being on the agenda for The Batman’s sequel.

A DEATH IN THE FAMILY/RED HOOD

Matt Reeves wasn’t the only one stirring the speculation pot before The Batman hit theaters. Actor Robert Pattinson was asked about other stories to adapt for the franchise, and he mentioned his affinity for A Death in the Family, and the comments sent instant shockwaves through the fandom.

With Barry Keoghan’s famous cameo in The Batman’s final scenes, it is leading to widespread speculation of possible Joker stories straight from the comics. Couple Pattinson’s comments with one of the most famous Batman stories of the modern era - and perhaps all-time - and you have the recipe for a faithful and brutal take on A Death in the Family complete with Jason Todd being beaten to death with a crowbar. But that’s only the beginning, as comic fans know all too well.

Dying was the best thing to happen to Jason Todd. When he was Robin, fans hated Jason so much that DC held a vote for his fate. The overwhelming decision was to give him the axe (or maybe the crowbar). That led to one of the most popular Batman events of the past two decades in which the former Robin was returned from the dead as the ruthless Red Hood. The Lazarus Pit that Ra’s Al-Ghul used to reincarnate Jason might be too far from reality for the world of The Batman, but an adaptation in which Batman’s former ward returns to take revenge could be a noir classic.

HUSH

If you have seen The Batman, then it’s safe to assume you saw the word HUSH blazed across the screen. Comic fans immediately made the connection to another famous Bat-story, aptly titled Hush. What is intriguing to comic theorists is the Riddler’s role in the plot. 

As the story goes, Batman has a new antagonist whose identity is concealed in bandages. He simply goes by the name “Hush,” and no one knows who he is. Playing the Moriarity to Batman’s Sherlock Holmes, Hush is one step ahead of the Dark Knight, sabotaging his efforts at every turn. As it so happens, the culprit is Thomas Elliot, Bruce’s childhood friend. Thomas had tried to murder his parents and collect the inheritance, but Thomas Wayne saved Mrs. Elliot. After that Thomas Elliot vowed revenge on the Wayne family. The Riddler, having pieced together Batman’s true identity, plotted with Elliot under the codename Hush.

Since Riddler flashed the word “Hush” on the big screen, it stands to reason that this was no coincidence.

THE KILLING JOKE

There has been a long standing rumor that WarnerMedia wants to develop a live-action HBO Max adaptation of The Killing Joke. This gossip started after Jared Leto’s Joker and Ben Affleck’s Batman resurfaced in the Justice League Snyder Cut. The massively successful Snyder Cut fanned the fanboy flames, and the demand was for more Batfleck. The enthusiasm was so high that Suicide Squad haters were willing to give Leto another shot at portraying the Clown Prince of Crime for an R-rated Killing Joke.

Since the Snyder Cut’s time has come and gone, WarnerMedia executives have insisted that the Snyder-verse has come to an end. Affleck has stated that after The Flash, he is finished playing Batman, and the people did lament the loss. Leto has shifted into Marvel territory with Morbius, and the talk of a Suicide Squad Ayers Cut doesn’t appear to be gaining traction. That has left fans with the unfortunate news that The Killing Joke fantasy will never be a reality. Then came The Batman, and all the rumors are back in motion.

Thanks to Keoghan’s Joker cameo, many theorists are pointing toward the iconic villain as the star of the next movie. That puts Killing Joke back on the table, at least as far as gossip is concerned. At this point, Reeves says he doesn’t know what a sequel will look like or what characters we could see, but there’s no doubt that Joker will play a factor. Of all the gritty, twisted Batman stories to retell in the world of The Batman, Killing Joke would be a perfect fit. 

MISTER FREEZE

The Batman took a turn toward a grounded, semi-realistic Dark Knight and company. With no metahumans in sight, this was a standalone story in a world without the likes of the Justice League or other over-the-top characters. Reeves managed to make the Penguin more believable as a mob enforcer rather than a strange, bird-obsessed circus reject who lives in the sewer. That is why it was odd when Reeves mentioned wanting to bring Mister Freeze to life.

The Freeze name alone is vintage Silver Age schlock. The only time we saw him on a movie screen, Arnold Schwarzenegger was rattling off God-awful ice puns with more voracity than his giant freeze ray. Batman: the Animated Series managed to make him a sympathetic figure with its episode, “Heart of Ice,” but that still was a far departure from reality. In a press conference prior to The Batman’s opening, Reeves offhandedly said that he would like the challenge of adapting Mister Freeze into a believable, realistic villain. Does that guarantee that Victor Fries is on his way to the sequel? Certainly not, but it does make me wonder if we’ll see some version of him in the Arkham streaming show. After all, Reeves said that the series would feature a number of villains locked in Arkham Asylum, and that could include Freeze.

Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is a professional writer, avid comic collector, former teacher, and the Blogger Supreme. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog, or on Instagram at matt.tuck.writer.


Leave a comment. You do you.

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published