So after writing so much on Batman that I could probably publish all of those posts as a short novella, eventually my mind starting swirling around this concept Batman. Unfortunately I have this bad habit of mine that somehow when I think about something long enough that I start to formulate stories in my head. Its an entirely uncontrollable process. So somewhere between reading "The Dark Knight Returns" and watching Moviebob's review of this movie, I had an epiphany. "Warner Bros should totally make a 'Batman 4' starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, man.* It would be totally lame if they just rebooted Batman again in like 2015 in some crappy Superhero movie starring Channing Tatum or something, they should move in this new direction here." Then somehow that idea moved into it being a "Batman Beyond" movie (which we've already done here), then somehow that idea just kept on warping until finally I had no idea what I was dealing with, but it kept on moving. Fermenting, evolving, changing, until somehow it became this, something totally new, something cool.
A few months ago Moviebob was typically complaining about Master Nolan's influence on superhero movies he always does, he mentioned how the Nolan storyline of Batman films seemed so medieval - this part of his long running issue with Batman because he's "right-wing". Medieval because it seemed like Gotham City was this ancestral noble territory that Bruce Wayne had inherited from his parents and that he had to step up to save it by virtual divine right. The Nolan films treat Gotham City has the Wayne family responsibility, a burden of the ruling nobility, of which Bruce Wayne is the heir to. It isn't merely revenge on the system of social corruption that killed his parents, its a Princely duty. Bruce Wayne is the Prince of Gotham City, and he's fighting a war to win it back from the forces of crime and insanity.
So how about this: make Gotham City a fallen kingdom. And Bruce Wayne the prince of the lost dynasty. And set it in THE FUTURE.
I'll start right from the backstory and history:
In the year 20XX**, the Third World War begins, launched by a nuclear terrorist attack on Beijing by the mysterious steppe warlord, Ra's Al Ghul. This terrorist is claiming to be the vanguard of a world revolution, and he claims personally to be immortal. Ra's' army is destroyed quickly, but the chaos he stirs erupts into a global nuclear war. Most of the world's established nations are destroyed and a century of global chaos begins. Every major city on the North American continent is destroyed in the infernos, and for a time the United States ceases to exist aside from its leaders hiding in nuclear shelters. In the ruins of the Northeastern United States, one of the regions hardest hit by the war, a man named Bruce Wayne is able to lead the survivors to begin to rebuild, offering a beacon of stability on the shores of the former state of Maine. From there he carves a Gotham Kingdom, with its capital being the new city Gotham City, founded on along the shores of the Bay of Fundy. King Wayne I rules for several decades, building a strong state that will last for three centuries. And what is the animal on his coat of arms? A bat, of course. King Bruce is known as the 'Night King', for ruling over a period of nuclear winter with virtually no daylight.
Over the centuries, the world recovers. The majority of the North American continent is conquered and consolidated by a restored but far more totalitarian United States. Around the world new nations form, and in time a new modernist global system asserts itself, with the US moving quickly to reestablish its position as Superpower. The rest of the world, however, is not quite so happy to see us, and we are challenged by the other rising powers of China, India, and Brazil. And there is a strange fanatical army rolling through Europe claiming to be commanded by the reborn Ra's Al Ghul. Gotham, however, stagnates as the Waynes grow complacent in their rule. Eventually the once-powerful kingdom is reduced to a rump city-state centered on Gotham City. Crime sets in, the people suffer, and they begin to dream of a return to democracy. The rule of King Thomas Wayne is especially miserable, as the United States uses its power to cut off trade from Gotham City. Revolution begins in the year 23XX. The young Prince, Bruce Wayne II watches as his father's rule fails, and then the revolution begins. King Thomas and Queen Martha are killed, Wayne Castle is burned to the ground, and the young Prince, just eight years old, is escaped into America by the Royal Advisor, Alfred Pennyworth. Neither would ever again be seen in Gotham for over twenty years.
Gotham City is reformed as the Gotham Republic under the rule of Prime Minister Paul Cobblepot and his son, Minister of Defense, Oswald Cobblepot. But then, as revolutions so often do, things go poorly. The Cobblepots attempt to take the crown for themselves, and so the people abandon them. From there Gotham becomes ruled by the Gotham Soviet, and inevitably the situation fades into chaos. Five years after the last king was murdered, the people of Gotham cannot be sure if they have a government at all. It has fallen into a failed state, with the SSR forces clinging desperately to the city center while crime warlords carve off neighborhoods of their as personal fiefdoms. These include a resurgent Oswald Cobblepot ruling over a small army of Gotham SSR experiments like Killer Krok and Mr. Freeze.
After twenty years of chaos, the US government decides it finally has the moral authority to annex Gotham into its own territory. However, first, it sends in the Specials, a group of advanced foreign agents in the art of secret wars. One of these agents is Agent 05, codenamed BATMAN, who is none other than the boy Prince who escaped from the revolution two decades prior. During his years of exile, he has become a veteran of numerous operations and one of the premiere assassins of the world. His boss, a young officer by the name of Harvey Dent, is apparently a good man. Other Specials include Selina Kyle, Dick Grayson, and less savory characters like Deadshot, and Scarecrow. Bruce Wayne as the Batman returns to Gotham City to defeat the villainous forces there. But he's also searching for a man who could possibly save Gotham City to lead it. He thinks he finds it in the energetic and honorable SSR officer by the name of James Gordon, who might just be that last hope.
So cool, huh?
I figure for the new Batman costume that it had to be vaguely futuristic, so it couldn't be spandex. The Dark Knight Trilogy costume is pretty much just armor, and this is pretty much that. But it has red Tron lines in order to be more future-ish. The suit also comes with Batwings that actually flap, this so that Batman will actually have the chief power of a Bat, flight. The wingspan is something like twenty feet, so that gliding can be more realistically accomplished, the cape's wingspan in the movies and games are too short, the span isn't enough to properly glide, especially when wearing a heavy cyber suit. In desperate combat situations the wings can be detached for better mobility, but this is not how Batman prefers to fight. The wings give a demonic appearance, along with spikes.
Batman's eyes are covered by screens, similar to the last act of "The Dark Knight" where he uses sonar and radio to be able to see through walls and infrared to catch his opponents. In that he works like a bat, being unable to see real light but using other powers to 'sense' his environment. Everything is based on surprise, knowing exactly what your enemy doesn't. Batman moves for quick kills using his artificially-enhanced strength and the numerous blades on his body.
And yeah, he kills people. Comic book fans, begin weeping. Over the course of the saga I think Bruce Wayne needs to learn his trademark pacifism, becoming a better person. But at first, its hard to tell him apart from many of the villains in terms of ruthlessness.
Bruce Wayne's advantage in this is that nobody knows his identity other than his American superiors. They think he's a little insane for his Bat-themed terrorism, but are more than willing to send him in to stir up chaos. Among the Gothamites, nobody knows who this Batman could be, but there are rumors that its the Gotham Prince returning from the underworld to get revenge. Just how close to the truth this is they'll never know. This time Bruce Wayne is not hiding his identity to protect his loved ones, everybody he ever had is already gone aside from his Specials compatriots. The mask protects nobody but himself. Its to hide himself from responsibility. He's something like a more active Hamlet, fighting every battle he can aside from the most difficult one: the one where he takes off the mask and leads Gotham as its true king.
The main characters is Batman, course, but the story is also focused on the other Specials members. There is a Robin in this adventure, but he's much more of an understated support member. Most people on the street would assume that Batman works alone, in fact. Robin exists mainly to gather info on the streets for Batman, and to map out preferable locations for Batman-style ambushes. He also doubles as a long-distance support member, laying down suppressing force when Batman needs it. Catwoman is another major member, but she does not work quite so directly with Batman. Instead her job is a more direct intelligence gathering, hiding out as a master thief. She also is investigating her own government, trying to find out just what the US is trying to achieve with this unusual operation. Batman isn't quite such good friends with Scarecrow and Deadshot, who represent the darker side of the group. In fact, Batman and Scarecrow are direct rivals, each considering the other one to be unpredictable and worse than the enemy. Finally there's Harvey Dent, the Big Boss in charge of these super soldiers. He has an intact face, and winds up being everybody's best friend. He seems to be in support of everybody, a dear ally to all the factions within the US government and the divisions in the Specials. He isn't two-faced because of a mutilation, but because of his personality. He's like a charming James Bond-type but without any real love behind the smile. That's one of the hard lessons Bruce Wayne is going to have to learn during "Night King", not to trust Harvey Dent.
Thanks to the post-apocalyptic storyline, Gotham can exist in the strange timeless period that the best of Batman media seem to inhabit. The SSR police use blimps, the city is a walled Medieval town full of as many churches as skyscrapers, and the Specials use cutting edge technology well-beyond anything most people can find. For example, computers are only just being reintroduced for the general populace, but Batman runs around with cyber-armor. Due to lack of oil most people use horses, but what fuel there is gets funneled to huge military tanks. However, Gotham is starving due to being caught in a decade-long endless urban conflict. Within the core of certain leader's strongeholds, life goes on, but at the periphery streets are blocked by redoubts, and every building is garrisoned.
As for what this could ever be... probably nothing. This is too long to be a movie, too dark to be a TV show. If DC or their corporate masters, Warner Bros, were to ever contact me on this idea, I'd suggest a comic miniseries, out of continuity of the main universe. But with a clear ending in sight. No more than 30 issues. Some of the twists should be obvious, some not so much.
So DC, I'm waiting. You can contact me in the comments.
* If that's spoiling you at this late date, then you have nobody to blame but yourself. I told you people to see the movie.
** I don't need to give a solid date, do I?