Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice didn’t ignite the DC movie universe like Warner Bros. hoped, but the studio is still moving forward with the franchise with production on Justice League underway. There are also plans for a solo Batman movie to be directed by its star Ben Affleck, an Oscar-winner for directing films like Argo, who is writing with DC scribe Geoff Johns.
But what do Johns and Affleck have typed up in Final Draft? A new rumor indicates Affleck’s solo Batman could involve Batman locked up in Arkham Asylum, setting up a loose adaptation of Grant Morrison’s psychological horror Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth from 1989.
Affleck’s movie will reportedly feature “most” members of Batman’s rogues gallery. In the DC Universe, Gotham City’s worst criminals — all its super-villains — get locked up in Arkham Asylum, only to break out to enact their next master plan, trapping Batman in a never-ending cycle (because it sells comics). Batman-on-Film, one of the most popular Batman blogs, reports that Affleck’s movie will involve Batman locked up in Arkham alongside all the criminals he’s put away.
Batman fans should recognize that story as it sounds similar to Arkham Asylum, Morrison’s dreamy and lyrical gothic horror novel. One night, Arkham is overtaken by its patients, who agree to back off if Batman goes to meet them. The book takes an eerie turn as Batman descends into madness, with the book reflecting Batman’s mental state in a hybrid of narrative symbolism (the book is loaded with Alice in Wonderland references) and expressionistic horror, like if Robert Wiene made a comic book.
During promotion for Dawn of Justice, Affleck said on record his story would be original while borrowing “certain things from the great comic books.” That’s the basic strategy for making any superhero movie, but unlike other comic book characters, Batman has a rich history (75 years and counting) of great comics waiting to play out on film. Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan went heavy on Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, indisputably one of the best Batman books of all time, but there are still so many other great Batman comics Hollywood has yet to explore. Arkham Asylum is surely one of them.