10:18am PT by Graeme McMillan , Aaron Couch
Who Should Battle Batman in Ben Affleck's Solo Movie?
Who is worthy of taking on The Batman?
Earlier this week, Heat Vision polled readers on who should take on The Dark Knight in Ben Affleck's solo movie. With more than 18,000 votes cast, the top two spots went to a team-up of The Joker and Harley Quinn, followed by The Red Hood. Honorable mention to write-in candidates Deathstroke (102 votes), Penguin (63 votes) and Zack Snyder (20 votes).
Now, Heat Vision's Graeme McMillan and Aaron Couch are squaring off based on those results.
In one corner, McMillan is arguing for a Joker-centric Batman movie. In the other, Couch explains why The Red Hood is the way to go for the Warner Bros. film. (And you can have your own say over on Heat Vision's Facebook page.)
Graeme McMillan, Arguing for The Joker: I'll be honest: "Aw, come on, it's tradition!" isn't the strongest argument for using The Joker as the villain for the next Batman movie, but it's the one I started from. After all, every other big-screen Batman — I'm counting the Keaton/Kilmer/Clooney Batman as one guy, because I'm cheating — has had a Joker movie to this point: the 1966 Batman; the 1989 movie; Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, which technically wasn't a big-screen Batman (although The Joker was in the Batman: Mask of the Phantasm movie); The Dark Knight … it's just something we've come to expect of our movie Batmans by this point. Batmans? Batmen? Batmanii?
Aaron Couch, Arguing for The Red Hood: Exactly! We do need a Joker for this Batman … and the way to do it is to bring in The Red Hood. [Warning: spoilers ahead for the character's comic book origins.] Act I of the movie is told as an extended flashback, with Batman and Robin (Jason Todd) teaming up to take down The Joker and Harley Quinn. Only things go very wrong. The Joker kidnaps Jason and murders him, enraging Batman, who nearly beats The Joker to death and ultimately throws him in Arkham Asylum (perhaps after being talked down by Gordon or Alfred). The rest of the movie takes place after the events of Suicide Squad and Justice League. A mysterious vigilante has come to town, killing Gotham's bad guys. Eventually we learn this villain is in fact Jason Todd returned from the dead (Hey, it's comics).
McMillan: Aaron, you're almost agreeing with me here. Except that I don't want Jason Todd anywhere near the movie, aside from being dead. (No, I didn't vote for his death way back when, but that's only because I was in another country. Yes, I am terrible.) I have to admit, I kind of love the idea that a Batman/Joker movie in the DCEU is already set up. Batman v. Superman hinted at a backstory, and then Suicide Squad did the same, only moreso: The Joker is the villain that Ben Affleck's Batman never caught. He's the villain responsible for killing Jason. It's a story that's already in progress, especially so after the ending of Suicide Squad, which all-but-promises a Joker story somewhere soon. If the Batman movie doesn't feature him off trying to take down The Joker, there's going to be a number of fans wondering why he's wasting his time when the guy's out there overacting and getting new and equally ill-considered facial tattoos.
Couch: But how better to address the consequences of The Joker and Batman's actions all those years ago than to bring Jason Todd back into the mix? And with this Batman worried about global threats and spending time trying to befriend a powerful man who talks to fish, what else could bring him back to something lower-level than investigating the return of Jason Todd? And David Ayer has said that (unlike your assertion above), Batman did catch The Joker after Jason's death — and nearly beat him to death, knocking out his teeth and leading The Joker to acquire those not-so-flattering tattoos.
McMillan: Yeah, but that's not in the movie! NOT CANON. Also, Jason can be in the mix as someone who is dead and haunting (not literally) Batman! We don't have to go the Hush route. No one has to go the Hush route. Wait, Jason came back for real after Hush, didn't he?
Couch: But Ayer said it! Okay. Even if it's not canon: As we know, this version of Batman kills people (a major point of contention in BvS). Let's assume the death of Superman (Henry Cavill) in BvS has reformed him. In fact, let's assume the only reason he killed bad guys in the first place was because he was disturbed after Jason's death. Now he's seen the light, and does not kill … only Jason sees things differently, and wants to goad his former teacher into killing The Joker. This will test Batman's new resolve not to kill in a way nothing else could. (Just watch the excellent 2010 DC animated film Under the Red Hood for an idea of how this could all play out.)
McMillan: Hey, I've read the comics! I know where Jason's head is at, although I prefer the version of him from the Batman and Robin arc by Grant Morrison where he's trying to literally replace Batman because of his ego. I just ... don't really like him as a character, I guess? And, anyway, this is where I confess my bias comes in: I'd love for the Batman movie to tie off the Joker/Harley subplot to some degree — preferably by allowing Harley to realize, "Oh, right, this is a crazily unhealthy relationship," like she has in the comics — so that a Suicide Squad sequel can concentrate on bringing about a movie version of the Jihad, the supervillain team made up of mercenaries from countries hurt by American foreign policy. Let's see them onscreen next.) Doing that, having a Batman/Joker storyline and having Jason in the mix? That makes The Dark Knight sound like a relaxed, un-stuffed moviegoing experience. But, really: The Joker. You at least agree that The Joker has to be in there somehow, right?
Couch: I admit, I'd absolutely watch that movie. Heat Vision readers, what do you think? If you've got another villain you'd rather see Affleck go up against, share your quick pitch (150 words or less) over on Heat Vision's Facebook page. Best pitch gets a shoutout in next week's column.