It's official: The Batman has broken box office records. Director Matt Reeves' stylish reinvention of the Dark Knight showcases a brooding Robert Pattinson in the title role, as Bruce Wayne prowls the mean streets of Gotham City in his second year as Batman.
Unsurprisingly, the movie leaves itself wide open for a sequel, and we're here for it. Just a warning: don't scroll any further if you haven't yet seen the movie. (Also, check out our interviews with Matt Reeves and Andy Serkis, and Paul Dano and Jeffrey Wright.)
THE BATMAN SPOILERS AHEAD
The movie culminates in the reveal of Barry Keoghan's leering, grinning Joker who shares a cell in Arkham Asylum next to the incarcerated Edward Nashton/Riddler (Dano). The latter's plans to reduce Gotham to anarchistic chaos having failed, Joker seems to imply some kind of twisted pact or union with Nashton.
What he has planned, we don't know at this stage. After all, while plans for The Batman 2 are underway, they're still in the hypothetical stage. We might imagine some sort of all-star, super-villain team-up with Joker and Riddler leading a vengeful charge against Batman. That said, in a recent interview with Variety, Reeves has played down the possibility of Joker being the lead villain in Batman 2.
All that aside, it hasn't stopped us from creating a wish fulfilment list of comics that ought to be adapted for the sequel. Here are five suggestions that should act as a suitably twisted showcase for Keoghan's Joker, were he to return, while also expanding Reeves' visually arresting vision of a morally stagnant Gotham City.
1. The Killing Joke
Elements of this quintessential Joker storyline have been threaded through the live-action Batman mythology. Directors including Tim Burton, Christopher Nolan and Todd Phillips have liberally plucked from Alan Moore's groundbreaking 1988 graphic novel, and in 2016, there was an animated feature film showcasing Mark Hamill's vocal talents as Batman's nemesis.
However, there's never been a feature-length, live-action iteration of The Killing Joke. Could The Batman 2 make amends for this? It's certainly dark, grim and compelling enough to slot in with Reeves' visual and tonal aesthetic. Were it to be adapted, it could serve as a potential origin story for Keoghan's take on the Clown Prince of Crime, plus it could showcase Barbara Gordon/Batgirl's tragic metamorphosis into Oracle after she's fatally wounded by the Joker.
2. Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth
The Batman takes a lot of visual cues from the Batman: Arkham Asylum game, but what about a feature-length adaptation of Grant Morrison's seminal graphic novel? It's one of the most twisted interpretations of the Batman/Joker conflict, sending Bruce Wayne on a dark journey through the Gotham City lunatic asylum, battling a host of super-villains along the way before he gets to the Joker.
Batman fighting his way through a single environment – this could come off as the Dark Knight meets The Raid, which is an awesome proposition. Morrison's take on the Joker is one of the creepiest and most demonic in the Batman lore (coupled with Dave McKean's unforgettable designs), and would allow Keoghan to really eat up the scenery. At the end of The Batman, we're left with both The Riddler and The Joker as cellmates in Arkham, so, logistically, we're already halfway towards this being a reality.
3. Batman: White Knight
Reeves' take on The Batman puts Gotham City corruption right at the centre of the narrative. An adaptation of Batman: White Knight would potentially build on this meaty theme. In Sean Gordon Murphy's clever twist on the mythology, Joker wins a lawsuit against the Gotham City Police Department and is effectively 'cured' of his psychopathy. The next step: a one-way ticket towards becoming a Gotham City politician.
Were Reeves to adapt this, it would allow him to put a new spin on the Joker, one we haven't yet seen in live-action, and it would allow the story to piece even further into the Gotham City justice system. It might also provide the opportunity to darken Robert Pattinson's Batman even further as he reckons with the motives of his apparently cured nemesis. With the Joker on the straight and narrow and Batman still an outcast vigilante, who is the good guy and who is the bad guy in this story?
Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo's graphic novel begins with the Joker released from Arkham Asylum. After a long absence, he's not best pleased with how things are progressing and he subsequently doubles down on his criminal rampage. Fascinatingly, and not a little terrifyingly, Joker makes several other super-villains the target of his rage.
Narratively, Reeves' Batman sequel could pick up at this very moment with the Joker chillingly achieving his liberation from Arkham. There's plenty of dark potential in the storyline as we could see the Joker unifying the various denizens of the criminal underworld, which would, in turn, allow for the introduction of new characters. Plus, with villains being picked off by Joker, it would allow Reeves to further muddy the waters of morality, blurring the lines of good vs evil.
5. The Clown At Midnight
As a movie, The Batman positions itself as a mystery story with Bruce Wayne re-aligned as the world's greatest detective. So, it makes sense that Reeves would double down on the mystery and detecting in his next Batman movie. For that reason, Grant Morrison's The Clown at Midnight might be an effective story to adapt.
When Batman investigates the toxic death of eight clowns at a funeral, the evidence points towards Joker. However, he's badly injured incarcerated within Arkham Asylum, raising the question of whether he's marshalling some kind of influence from the inside. With a story that ranges from the lower depths of Gotham City to the murky interiors of Arkham, this has got 'cinematic proposition' written all over it, not to mention the making of a classic Batman whodunit.
Which comics do you want to see adapted in The Batman 2? Let us know @Cineworld.