There’s been a long-accepted rule of superhero movies: the more villains you cram in, the harder it’ll be to sit through. We saw it happen when a studio directive forced Spider-Man 3, originally built to be a vehicle for classic Silver Age villain Sandman, to incorporate into its story the epitome of ’90s anti-hero culture, the black-wearing, long-tongued Venom. (The ’90s were all about long tongues.) The Iron Man series refuses to learn this lesson, repeatedly revealing in its climaxes a second, unnecessary. behind-the-scenes businessman-type villain pulling the strings. And while there were a lot of problems with Batman Forever, one of its major issues was juggling Jim Carrey’s Riddler and Tommy Lee Jones’ Two-Face. But is there a way for a superhero movie to successfully pack in so many villains that they begin to work in perfect harmony, a la Mr. Burns’ case of Thee Stooges Syndrome?
Batman On Film is reporting a ruuuumor that the upcoming Ben Affleck-directed Batman film could find the maybe too grim Dark Knight introduced in Batman v. Superman locked up in Arkham Asylum, making it the superhero equivalent of a bottle episode. BOF suggested the film isn’t a straight-up adaptation of either the game Arkham Asylum or graphic novel, but that it will borrow a little bit here and a little bit there from all of Batman’s mythology to craft its story. The Arkham rumor also jives with the scuttlebutt that Affleck is using just a sh*t-ton of Batman villains in his movie, since the entire rogue’s gallery lives in the madhouse. It makes me think of a family reunion — it’s always scarier when you get all the psychopaths together in one space.
But is there enough for Batman to do in Arkham Asylum for an entire film? It’s easy to buy the endless amount of escaped prisoners in a video game, since that medium’s taught us to accept wave after wave of bad guys without questioning where they come from. In a movie, though, it won’t work to have endless creeps popping out of their cells to eat Batman’s fists. So if there’s only so much brawling to be done, what else is Batman supposed to do for two hours in Arkham Asylum? And for that answer, I turn (as I so often do) to the sitcom, to find out what conflicts they deal with in bottle episodes. Usually, these shows take two characters who hate each other and lock them in a room together. But since sitcoms are stories about ensembles and not heroes, we never see one character defeat another — they come to an agreement, hug it out, and come away from the situation having grown and changed. So could Batman go one-by-one to all his nemeses and repair those relationships? For the sake of the frisbee golf team he used to be on with Mr. Freeze, I sure hope so.
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