It's important to note straight away this post is entirely speculative and opinion based, and isn't grounded in any rumours or facts at all. We recently had it from very solid sources that the next Batman solo movie, due after [Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice](tag:711870), would come from a dream team of Ben Affleck's direction and writing (if you think that's a bad choice, watch some of his most recent, Oscar winning-work) and Geoff Johns' writing. Johns is the DC Chief Creative Officer behind some amazing stories. Rumour has it that their script is already almost finished, but with a 2018 release date speculated, the odds that we'll hear anything solid about it for quite some time are low. So I thought I'd include something (one of many desires) I'd like to see.
Batman: Under The Hood is not the single greatest Batman comic ever, nor is A Death in the Family - though it certainly tells one of my favourite stories- but its animated counterpart, Under the Red Hood, is one of the most critically acclaimed Batman animated movies to date, if not one of the best animated movies out there alone. The voice acting is excellent, the story is brilliantly told, and it's rich with characters straight from the Batman mythos. It's also one of the more dark and gritty animated Batman stories, and by Batman standards, that says something.
It's a rich and complex plot, so I won't do the story the injustice of being hastily summarized - I invite you to watch it, there are plenty of places to do so online, or you can buy the DVD and so on. Plot details and the story's crux will be explained as I go, though, so it's not essential to read this article. What I'll do is break it down into why this movie could work, and why.
The story itself is brilliant and ripe for cinema.
The key point of the matter is that the story itself is of the quality, as with many other comic arcs, to stand up on the big screen. Not only is it an excellent action story, explores the Batman/Robin dynamic very thoroughly, and more, it delves very deeply into Batman's own moral code and when that's broken. More on that in a bit. In short, with the right cast and crew, this story with only minor tweaks could translate brilliantly on to the big screen and be a hit with audiences and critics alike, for not only being a fun hero movie, but for having serious thoughtful chops in it too.
Examining Batman's morality even more deeply.
What Under the Red Hood does so well is it aligns you with the primary antagonist - in this case, Jason Todd. Instead of him being a great villain who we love to hate but ultimately find psychotic, his questionable methods, we find, may be outweighed by the good he's doing. There's a lot of heavy moral debate in the above scene that tests Batman's unwillingness to kill, and ultimately considers perhaps Jason's way is not only more final and efficient, but assures the safety of the people he loves even better than Batman can. Below is an amazing scene from Under the Red Hood which demonstrates that (or linked here, if the embed doesn't work).
As he says to Batman in another scene - "Does it make it easier for you to think my little dip in his fountain of youth turned me rabid - or is this just the real me?" Batman doesn't truly confront that possibility, and he doesn't confront the possibility that perhaps killing is a method that would be better employed than simply leaving people in body casts. What that does is forces the audience to do so- already we have a movie which is seriously thoughtful and lures the audience into these debates. It's an interesting and heavily debated issue among fans even now, and to see the 'casual' audience bought in on that would be nice.
Extension of the above: Jason Todd.
Yes, I've included a little aside for this name. Because, frankly, Jason Todd AKA The Red Hood is one of the best Batman characters of the last ten years. Making his redebut in 2005 after being murdered by the Joker (and fans, being voted to be killed- tough life, I know) many years earlier he presented a vigilante who fitted seamlessly into the Batman universe, and someone who really can't be labelled. Is he a villain? An antihero? A downright hero? It really depends on the perspective in this universe that you look at him from, and therein lies his character's excellence. He is a living example of Batman's failures and everything he opposes in crimefighting, and, more cruelly, he knows it, and will use that against his old mentor quite happily.
A proper Robin, and a proper examination of him and his character in the Batman universe.
The story opens with the brutal murder of Jason Todd, the second Robin, by the Joker. This was really why I wrote this article. Despite Tim Drake being my favourite Robin (Dick Grayson would be if he weren't an even better Nightwing), Jason was a decent Robin. He's not my favourite, but, cruel as it sounds, his best scene, his death scene, was enough to make him memorable. What Under the Red Hood does is introduce the Robin character quite flawlessly, and it does so by not only having a failed example of one, but showing flashbacks to Jason's time as Robin. Having Nightwing present also adds a layer of depth to the Bat-Family which the DC Extended Universe could use.
Robin is really a great character and member of Batman's mythos who should be in this cinematic universe, but most moviegoers are inclined to laugh at him. The Arkham games proved that doesn't have to be the case, and that Robin can be a likable breath of fresh air to the audience while also being a pretty awesome character in his own right within a darker and more serious adaption. To introduce fans to what this character really looks like- sorry, Joel Schumacher- would be an excellent and unique addition to this telling of Batman.
And if they want to set a dark, brutal, intense tone? That scene's how you do it.
Introducing new and familiar faces into a brand new world, both villains and heroes.
Under the Red Hood introduces a number of characters to the plot who I feel all fit organically. Number One: Black Mask. Not only is Black Mask AKA Roman Sionis a great character on his own, he hasn't been done in a movie, and he's one of the ones who has excellent theatrical potential. He's really at the barrel of Jason's gun for a lot of the story, but he'd fit very organically into a dark and gritty DCEU- one need only see any scenes from Arkham Origins to know he can do that, even if he's replaced for a lot of the game. In this new Batman story I'd prefer a story that centers very much on Gotham in the fashion The Dark Knight did, at a street level, where the intervention of characters like Superman really wouldn't do much good- you need a detective to solve this one. Black Mask could pull that off well, and is an excellent villain who could be introduced.
Now say hello to an extremely popular DC character, and a personal favourite of mine - Dick Grayson, AKA Nightwing. I mentioned him vaguely above as a strong foil to Jason Todd's Red Hood, being the good product of what Batman does for his partners. On top of that, he is guaranteed to be an audience favourite. Moviegoers are very used to a Batman who works firmly alone, and to see Nightwing come to Batman's aid as he does in this scene, one of my favourites, would be amazing.
There's undeniable charm and movie magic to fans and newcomers alike in watching old partners, a substitute father and son, fight side by side. But they're not the only characters Under the Red Hood introduces. We see Ra's al Ghul, which would be his introduction to the DCEU, Commissioner Gordon, who's seemingly absent during Batman V Superman, and more. Without spoilers, I quite liked Arkham Knight's update on Jason Todd's character, which removed Ra's al Ghul from the equation, and I think would fit even more nicely in the DCEU, just with the end result being Red Hood alone and not another character.
The Joker's a highlight, but he's NOT the main villain and in no way hijacks the plot.
I make no secret of Joker being one of my favourite characters, and I really can't wait to see Jared Leto's take on him. What I love about Under the Red Hood is that Joker is a key player, but he's not really the main villain, at least not until the third act, and even then he's just an antagonist, not the main one. The ending scene above with these three very different men in the same room is pure cinema gold, and I would love to see that come to life. With very limited knowledge of how the character will be in Suicide Squad and what his role will be, it's difficult to speculate here, but we can see a lot of him in Arkham, but also out causing chaos and being genuinely psychotic and evil.
In many ways, he's as much a main character as Batman or Red Hood, weaving in to just about every aspect of the plot, but he doesn't fit the archetype of 'the villain' that's set up for a movie, and that works wonders for his character.
The perfect balance between comics and realism and darkness - what the DCEU will be looking for.
At its core, this story is undeniably a very comic book-y one. It contains resurrection, superheroes, sidekicks, villains and vigilantism, and doesn't shy away from having grand costumes and flashy scenes, while also being steeped in realism and darkness - just as the DC Extended Universe is shaping up. Under the Red Hood offers a dark and intelligent story which is perfect for the first Batman solo movie and will firmly establish his character among the rest of the Justice League as what he is- a detective and a crimefighter, not a brawler or everyday superhero. Warner Bros have been clear that they want to make great movies with superheroes in them, not superhero movies which might turn out great, and this story is suited to that mantra above many others. To be what's cliche now, it would give us the Batman we deserve- a crimefighter, a detective, gadget user, and man with an infallible sense of morality.
Above all, it's a story firmly embedded in Batman lore, and one which every Batman fan should know. Audiences everywhere should be introduced to this wonderful story and the brilliant character of the Red Hood/Jason Todd, and The Batman provides an easy means of doing so. Whatever Geoff Johns and Ben Affleck cook up will be amazing, of that I'm quite sure- this is just one of many ideas and routes they could follow, whether in the first movie, or a later one. But, of course, that's just my opinion- I would love to hear your's below!