The Batman comic that can’t (and shouldn’t) be adapted for the screen

The Dark Knight has been around for more than 80 years, and it’s fair to say there have been some good, bad and downright ugly entries in his back catalogue.

Batman movies have generally been a mixed bunch too, and with Zack Snyder’s Justice League dropping tomorrow and Matt Reeves’ The Batman just finishing production (see below), we’re going to take a quick look at a Batman comic we’ll probably (and thankfully), never see adapted.

So what’s the story?

Dark Night: A True Batman Story is a 2016 book by Paul Dini, writer on the outstanding 1990s cartoon Batman: The Animated Series, with artwork by Eduardo Risso.

Who’s the baddie?

Two random arseholes and Paul Dini’s own psyche.

Wait, what?

Dark Night is an autobiographical story by Dini, written to help him cope with PTSD – y’see, he was mugged one night on his way home and suffered terrible physical injuries.

When a cop finds out what he does for a living, he jokes that he really could’ve used Batman when the thugs were obliterating his eye socket, and that gag festers in Dini’s mind.

While the bruises and broken bones healed over time, the mental scarring lasted much longer, leading to self-medicating, fear of leaving his apartment and an inability to focus on creating what became the excellent Mask Of The Phantasm.

The book features Dini working through his trauma by having conversations with the characters he’s written on the show. While Batman, Joker, Harley Quinn, Riddler, Scarecrow and Poison Ivy make an appearance, they’re all representing different elements of his mind and sounding boards to argue with.

If you want the synopsis in his own words, watch from about the 38 minute point.

That sounds… weird

As an exploration of mental trauma brought about by physical abuse, it’s a great book. Think of it as therapy in graphic novel form.

What it isn’t is a BIFF! BANG! POW! franchise expander or universe builder, and no easy way to adapt it. There’s a definite story arc, but no third act confrontation and no nice, neat conclusion.

I’m pretty happy for Dark Night never to make it to the screen. There’s plenty of great stuff in the DC archives, and plenty of talented filmmakers itching to do their own thing with the character.

As mentioned earlier, Matt Reeves has confirmed The Batman has finally finished filming so we’ve got that to look forward to!

And, just because it’s something of a big deal and pretty damned imminent, here’s a trailer for Zack Snyder’s Justice League…

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