Hoo boy is the DCEU in trouble. After the critical disaster of Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad (regardless of whether you liked them or not, you have to admit they were extremely divisive), Warner Bros. is faced with the challenge of getting their superhero franchise back on track — with both #BatmanVSuperman and #SuicideSquad breaking box office records, at least the studio has plenty of money to play with. But money can't buy everything, and specifically, it can't buy time.
Fully aware that their biggest box office pull is #Batman, Warner Bros. swiftly made plans to release a Ben Affleck-helmed solo Batman movie as soon as possible — it was never officially announced, but WB booked a slot for 2018 that was obviously meant for The Batman. Just like Suicide Squad before it, The Batman seemed to suffer from a rushed schedule. And now, after expressing concerns about the script time and again, Affleck himself has stepped down as director, though he will still star in the movie... probably.
Warner Bros. have now ordered a page one rewrite on #TheBatman script, bringing in new screenwriters to start completely from scratch. Considering all the negativity swirling about the previous script — American Psycho writer Brett Easton Ellis reported that WB refused to alter the script despite concerns, though he later retracted his statement — a rewrite might be the best thing at this juncture. Apart from the fact that this will inevitable delay production further, meaning that The Batman will likely miss its apparent 2018 release slot... and the last thing the DCEU needs is another rushed movie.
So what exactly was in this apparently atrocious script? New insider reports from Forbes have shed some light on the Batman movie that we'll never get to see — and unfortunately, it sounds pretty cool.
Batman's Rogues Gallery Assembles For A Final Assault
Or at least, that's what Forbes' report seems to suggest, which lines up with a few rumors we'd already heard about the script.
Specially, Forbes pinpoints Deathstroke and the Joker as the main antagonists, among several others. Here's what they had to say:
The story for 'The Batman' originally included the assassin Deathstroke as a main villain, with Joe Manganiello cast in the role, as well as a few other likely villainous appearances by characters including the Joker, according to sources familiar with the project.
Affleck himself posted Joe Manganiello's screen test to Twitter months ago, which many people found heartening — Deathstroke is one of DC's most vicious assassins, and he's a fairly popular character. This new report about the Joker's involvement only makes the movie sound even more fan-appealing (despite Jared Leto's dubious and divisive turn in the role), considering the Joker's position as the most iconic Batman villain of all time.
But it's this comment that has us intrigued: "as well as a few other likely villainous appearances". It seems that the original script for The Batman would have featured a large amount of Bruce's rogues gallery, which would make for a really fascinating story, perfect for a Batman who's spent 20 years in the crime-fighting field
The idea that The Batman would feature multiple villainous cameos isn't a new one, but it's never been verified. Back in July 2016, rumors were circulating about The Batman being set at Arkham Asylum, as Bruce is forced to fight his way out through all the villains he put away over the years. Considering Bruce's hard stance on criminals in Batman v Superman — he literally branded them for murder in jail — even the most low level reprobates likely have a vendetta against the Caped Crusader.
Was The Original Plan To Adapt 'Hush'?
More recently, Margot Robbie's #GothamCitySirens plot seemed to suggest that this movie might lead on from The Batman in a really interesting way, as the comic of the same name followed up on the immensely popular Batman comic Hush. This comic is considered by many to be one of, if not the, best Batman story of all time — the arc features all of Batman's many foes returning for a final assault on the Dark Knight, spurred on by a mysterious new villain with personal ties to Bruce himself.
There's many reasons why Hush would be perfect for the current cinematic incarnation of Batman: Both stories are set many years after Batman began his crusade, as Hush hearkens back to Bruce's greatest tragedies, like the death of Jason Todd (who is also dead in Batman v Superman) and the crippling of Barbara Gordon.
Using Hush as a basis for The Batman would have the added bonus effect of introducing Catwoman and Poison Ivy just in time for Gotham City Sirens, as well as giving Harley Quinn an interesting role. Not to mention, we could finally see all of Batman's allies — Oracle, Nightwing, and the rest of the Batfamily — on the big screen.
However, unfounded rumors and narrative ties to Gotham City Sirens are the only evidence we have that The Batman may have originally been a Hush adaptation. This new confirmation that multiple villains were to appear fits in with the Hush rumors, but it could also be that The Batman was going to be an entirely new story featuring all of Bruce's foes.
It's also worth noting that — as exciting as this sounds — by all accounts the original The Batman script just wasn't worth pursuing. Ben Affleck's very vocal concerns cast the quality of this story into doubt: The actor said multiple times that he would only direct if the script was good enough, blowing hot and cold about whether the movie would even get made. Considering that now Affleck has stepped down as director, and a page one rewrite has been ordered, we can probably rest assured that a terrible Batman movie has been avoided. Here's hoping the replacement will be just as good as our expectations set it up to be.
Do you think this rewrite is a good idea?
[Header image by Serg Acuna. Poll image via Warner Bros.]