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With the old guard (the “DCEU”) now giving way to the new (the DCU), all eyes are on the future of DC live-action movies as casting for SUPERMAN: LEGACY is just getting underway.
More importantly, Matt Reeves is hard at work on THE BATMAN SAGA with THE BATMAN: PART II and THE PENGUIN series on MAX coming over the next two years. This is what probably excites audiences the most.
But what about the animated side of things?
Sure, DC continues to make animated films, and while they’re doing their own animated universe (the excellent BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN was a part of it), what about separate adaptations in their own world? Batman has been the star of most if not all of those: YEAR ONE, THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS were excellent. THE KILLING JOKE got a much more mixed-to-negative reaction, but that was more to do with what was added than the adaptation of the source material. I actually enjoyed the stuff directly from TKJ.
So if DC wants to dip into the deep history of Batman for their next big adaptation, I’d suggest they go with one of the newest additions to that lore and one from the BLACK LABEL line to boot: BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT should be the next animated adaptation. There are many reasons to do so and frankly, a lot of them are obvious.
First off, the writing is excellent. Sean Murphy and team have crafted an excellent narrative that moves Batman in a bold new direction that grows the universe while staying loyal to what makes the character great. It’s also different. While a sane Joker and a Batman on the brink are not entirely new concepts, they’ve never been explored simultaneously and in this way before. The Joker going sane and becoming a hero while Batman becomes the villain? It’s so simple, yet so different and utterly brilliant!
Of course, if you’ve read the graphic novels, you know things change a bit but not before there’s a team-up not many would expect.
And that’s just one film, based on the first graphic novel/series! THE WHITE KNIGHT universe has since expanded and could easily make any animated movie a two-parter like TKH and TDKR.
There is a LOT to unpack in CURSE OF THE WHITE KNIGHT, but there’s enough there to add to a second movie, and with the recent BEYOND THE WHITE KNIGHT, there could even be a separate movie there too since it takes place years after CURSE, especially with how brilliantly Jack Napier is handled!
The possibilities are endless! Of course, Murphy’s universe is still growing but the quality continues to impress. It’s further proof of how good of an idea the BLACK LABEL brand is in comics…and the potential of ELSEWORLDS on film (which Reeves’ THE BATMAN films and Todd Phillips’ JOKER movies are a part of — though each exists in their own worlds).
Now, to be clear, this would likely be a very very hard PG-13 animated series of films, if not an R rating. If you’ve read the comics you completely understand why. It’s also a bold new direction that would intrigue general viewers while keeping fans happy because the White Knight series has won high praise from the vast majority of comic fans.
No one is safe in terms of who lives and who dies and Batman’s role is debated constantly throughout the stories. I wouldn’t be surprised if years down the road a future big-screen director gushes about how BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT had a hand in their own version of Batman. That’s how good this series is, and putting it on screen in animated form is the next logical step toward growing its brand.
And heck, who’s to say this would just be a movie? There’s enough in this universe to make a whole series about it (MAX, anyone?). Two Batman series on two streaming services (BATMAN: CAPED CRUSADER will be on Prime, remember)?
Sign me up!
To borrow a phrase from Jett, I’m banging the drum for this to happen. Come on Warner Bros. Discovery! – Kris Burke
Check out BOF’s podcast interview with Sean Murphy!