With the conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s DARK KNIGHT trilogy, talk has turned to the next iteration of the BATMAN film series. Everything from a whole new beginning under the auspices of a new team to BATMAN BEYONDto launching a new series with the JUSTICE LEAGUE film has been floating around the rumor ether of the Internet.

I have my own proposal: Set the next BATMAN films in the already-established and popular world of the video games ARKHAM ASYLUM and ARKHAM CITY. I’m not talking about an adaptation of the video game. I’m talking about a new story told within the ARKHAMverse in a film – or ongoing series of films –  that would treat the events of both games, the comic series ARKHAM CITY and the digital series ARKHAM UNHINGED as canon.

Let’s look at a few of the benefits:

• Both games have shown that even the more fantastical elements of BATMAN are accepted within the confines of the ARKHAM ASYLUM world. While they all have a more realistic, street-level look, the characters are still there and recognizable – perhaps even more terrifying than their comics counterparts. From Mr. Freeze to the definitive Penguin and Killer Croc, the villains in the ARKHAM -verse work beautifully. Not only that, but…

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SPOILERS for ARKHAM CITY :

 

… following the events of ARKHAM CITY , The Joker is dead. This would also provide a story reason for the Joker not to be included in a film, both honoring Heath Ledger’s brilliant  performance in DARK KNIGHT and giving other villains the chance to shine on the big screen.

 

SPOILERS Conclude.

 

• The ARKHAM-verse is also rife with other great and believable characters – Cash, the Arkham Security Guard, Commissioner Gordon, Alfred, a pre-New52 Barbara Gordon as Oracle, Nightwing, Robin, Azrael –  making not only films, but explorations in other media possible. I for one would love to see DC follow the – the only time I’ll say this –  Marvel example of the  S.H.I.E.L.D. television show, and produce an adaptation of Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker’s brilliant GOTHAM CENTRAL television series that examines the street level crime within the ARKHAM-verse.

The possibilities are endless.

There’s one more benefit for the ARKHAM approach, but first I want to look at the possible other approaches should the Arkham-verse route not be taken.
 

OPTION 1: A Brand New Beginning

Done to death.  Nolan’s trilogy is still fresh in the minds of audiences, and without the nasty taste of Schumacher’s BATMAN AND ROBIN as the finale. By now, most audiences know the basics of Batman’s origin – parents murdered in front of him, vows to protect Gotham and ensure that no one faces the same horror that befell him.  It’s beating a dead horse and is unnecessary for today’s audiences.
 

OPTION 2: A Continuation of Nolan’s Trilogy

Not going to happen,except in the minds of fans, which is where it should stay. Plus, Bruce Wayne is “dead” now. There is no way Warners will release a BATMAN film without Bruce Wayne as Batman.
 

OPTION 3: BATMAN BEYOND.

Maybe, but while it is popular with fans of the Animated series, but, like Option 2, doesn’t feature Bruce Wayne as Batman. Again, no way that’s happening.
 

OPTION 4: Wait for JUSTICE LEAGUE.

This is a very real possibility, and most likely what will happen. It is, after all how the New 52 introduced Batman.

But, that big incentive I was talking about?

If DC is indeed attempting to follow Marvel’s example with their own cinematic universe, they already have a popular Batman that would fit in with a Justice League-level superhero film with the ARKHAM-verse. They don’t need to start from the ground up and re-mine ground that has already been paved by Christopher Nolan and his team.

For Warner’s to bring the world of ARKHAM to theaters would show a new paradigm in storytelling, and it would be an astounding approach, while solving their own worries about being compared unfavorably to Marvel’s approach (“Me TOO!” ME TOO!”)

Would it be a storytelling challenge? Absolutely. But it would also be an amazing experiment that has the potential to one-up Marvel’s Cinematic Universe by showing audiences a means of storytelling they’ve never seen before.