It may not have turned out to be the movie we wanted, much less deserved, but #BatmanVSuperman did set up an element of the DCEU that is bound to be wildly successful: Ben Affleck's brooding and bloody Batman. Just like his Golden Age incarnation, this version of the Dark Knight is perfectly okay with killing the criminals he brutally hunts down — and branding them for death in prison, just in case he didn't get around to finishing the job himself.
This character choice has divided fans, but debates on the morality of killing aside, the critical response to the fondly named Batfleck has been mostly positive. It's no surprise then, that the Affleck-directed movie #TheBatman is one of the most eagerly anticipated in the DCEU roster.
The Batman is due to be released October 2018, and so far that's pretty much all we know about the movie, along with the fact that one of the main antagonists will be Deathstroke — notorious assassin and longtime foe of Batman. And according to Deathstroke's actor Joe Manganiello, we're in for some surprises when we finally discover what the movie's about.
Authentic Yet Unexpected
When speaking to ComicBookMovie, Manganiello only had praise for The Batman script that has been the subject of some contention — with writer Bret Easton Ellis criticizing the screenplay, then quickly clarifying his comments. Just in case we were worried that the Affleck-penned story might not be the epic we're hoping for, Manganiello has stepped in to give us his first-person account.
And according to Manganiello, The Batman will show us a side to the story we've never seen before.
"His take is a fresh take but I think the audience is going to be surprised. Because it's a road that no one's really gone down that's completely integral to, you know, who Batman is. And I think it's gonna be refreshing but at the same time completely familiar. But it's going to take this franchise in a direction that I think A LOT of people are going to be really happy about. It's going to be gritty and action packed and cerebral and all of those elements that people love about Batman."
Ok so, this plot is surprising, and no-one's ever done it before, but it's also "familiar" and true to the character. Holy sweeping vagaries, Batman!
This statement could, conveniently, mean pretty much anything, but if we focus on the fact that The Batman is simultaneously "integral" to Bruce's character while presenting something we haven't seen on the big screen before, we can come up with a few options as to what Manganiello might mean.
The World's Greatest Detective
It's an aspect of the Batman story that's got lost in recent decades, but it's nonetheless the cornerstone of Batman's character that he is, at his heart, a detective. The caped vigilante became best known for his dark, edgy appeal, but the fact that Bruce Wayne also has a brilliant mind, and that he's a giant nerd for detection, has been somewhat lost.
We catch glimpses of this sometimes, like in the 2004 animated series also entitled The Batman, when Bruce uses satellite tracking software to deduce Superman's secret identity.
A movie that restores Batman to his place as the Sherlock Holmes of DC would definitely fulfill the quota of "integral" but also "refreshing". Perhaps The Batman will be a thrilling detective mystery, presented in a psychologically unnerving style similar to that of David Fincher's Gone Girl. That would suit Batfleck down to the ground.
Old Allies Reunited
There is another part of the Batman story that hasn't been seen on the big screen for a while, and that's the Batfamily, Bruce's collection of sidekicks and allies. Of course we all know about Robin, and Batgirl pops up every so often in the dozen or so Batman movies of the last century. But there are many characters — Batwoman, Huntress, and all the other Robins — who have yet to make their cinematic debut.
The Batman might just be the perfect time to explore the Batfamily, from the perspective of the jaded lone wolf Batfleck being forced to team up with his old allies once again.
This would be a really interesting direction to take a tried-and-tested character like Batman, as well as giving new life to old faves like Nightwing — who is rumored to appear in The Batman. (Bonus points if a wheelchair-bound Batgirl is now the dark, brooding, genius hacker Oracle.)
Showing these characters decades into their careers as crime-fighters would be fascinating, teasing Batfleck's mysterious past, and revealing at why he became such a darker version of the hero we know and love. Batman v Superman already did a lot to set this up — remember that old Robin suit? And speaking of which...
Rise Of The Red Hood
By this point, using The Batman to reveal the return of Jason Todd would seem rather predictable. Back when the trailer for Batman v Superman revealed that Joker-graffitied Robin suit, fans immediately deduced that this was not a nod to Batman's first Robin (Dick Grayson), but his second protege — the contentious Jason Todd, who was famously murdered by the Joker in the comic Death in the Family.
Although for many years considered to be one of those few comic characters who would never be resurrected (think Spider-Man's Uncle Ben), Jason Todd was later revealed to be alive in Batman: Under The Hood.
Taking up the Joker's old alias of Red Hood, Jason became a thorn in Batman's side, first as a villain and later as an anti-hero vigilante. He's one of those love-to-hate-him character, notorious among fans but nonetheless appreciated for his role in the Batman story. Again, this is a part of the Batman mythos that has not yet made the jump to the big screen, but with those hints in Batman v Superman, it seems Jason's death at least will be alluded to in The Batman, if not his return as the Red Hood.
Of course, Ben Affleck may choose to create something totally new for The Batman, drawing from "integral" elements of Bruce's character to weave together a "refreshing" new story.
Tell us in the comments: What Batman story would you like to see adapted in The Batman?