A live-action Batman TV show — I’m choosing to ignore Gotham because there’s no Batman — has been done before, but it’s very much a product of its time. Imagine one done in the same vein as Daredevil. It would not only smash TV ratings, but it would also allow storytellers to explore the deep mythos of the character without the restrictions of film.
Prepare yourself for a cold, hard truth. The Batman, or whatever else it’ll end up being called, will never satisfy our insatiable thirst. Now, hold up for a second—this isn’t a slight on Matt Reeves, Ben Affleck or the DCEU at all; I actually like all of them. I say this because this is the nature of a film based on a serialised character, with far too many stories, backstories and related characters to explore in a trilogy or shared cinematic universe. Did you feel Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy told you everything you needed to know about Batman?
This is where television comes in. As I’ve mentioned before a few years back, comic book stories thrive in the television format more so than in film. Take The Flash, for example: the film can’t even get a director or script in place, but the TV show is booming. Even closer to home, look at Batman: The Animated Series: it produced so many iconic stories and characters that it’s one of the most beloved adaptations of the Caped Crusader.
The Rise of TV
Seeing the amount of money that’s being invested in TV shows nowadays, it’s fair to say it’s no longer a lesser, cheaper medium than cinema. A show like Game of Thrones makes many Hollywood productions look like Troma films in comparison. With Batman, I doubt Warner Bros. would struggle to find financers for a show of this magnitude—lest we forget they paid Charlie Sheen over a million dollars per episode of Two and a Half Men.
Also, there’s no need to go crazy with the SFX, because we don’t need crumbling cities or pillars of lights in the sky (they’re naff anyway). Keep the tone dark and gritty, and let the stories shine (gosh, it sounds so simple, doesn’t it?). Heck, I’ve seen some fan films tell fantastic Batman stories with budgets under $20,000.
The Bat Family
For someone who sees himself as a loner, Batman sure has built up quite the army of vigilantes. Unfortunately, most of the members of his Bat Family will likely not make it onto the big screen, because of time and space constraints. That means we might never see Batwoman, Batwing, Oracle or even my new favourite Clayface in a film—and that sucks.
As Arrow and The Flash have shown us, the team dynamic works really well on TV. Members can join, leave or stay put, but there will always an opportunity to explore these characters’ histories as well.
Dick Grayson as Batman
This is a biggie. One of the most popular Batman arcs of recent times involved Dick Grayson taking up the mantle of Batman. Many fans have called for this storyline to find its way into the DCEU, but let’s be real here: apart from the diehard fans, who’d really want to see a film about another guy besides Bruce Wayne being Batman? That’s a huge financial risk for Warner Bros.
An arc like this could only work in a TV setting, where we know Bruce would eventually be back. Much like how it transpired in the comic books, we enjoyed Dick’s run because we knew Bruce would return and it wasn’t permanent. Television allows for experimentation, without having to dive into unknown waters with both feet.
The Rogues Gallery
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the main reason Batman should be a TV show. Like Spider-Man, the Dark Knight has a wide range of interesting and complex villains who deserve a spot in the sun. If they’re limited to the film realm, however, many of them will lose out or be shoved in for the sake of it.
Now, I’m not saying we need to do a villain an episode format, but rather the Daredevil model. Have a main villain or two, with several supporting ones throughout. This allows for proper character and world-building, and there’s no need for rushed narratives.
Here’s a quick pitch of how a Batman TV show could work: the first season is centred on Batman and Robin (Dick Grayson) as they fight to put an end to the turf war between Penguin and Two-Face. Throughout the season, we’d meet villains, such as Catwoman and Riddler, and heroes such as Barbara Gordon. Towards the end of season one, the Joker appears as a teaser for season two. Boom.
I came up with the above in less than ten seconds, so imagine what a team of writers could do with a few months? I’m salivating at the thought of it already.