The idea of a new live-action Batman TV show is one of those things that’s fun to fantasise about, but is, let’s face it, very unlikely to happen in reality. The sheer difficulty of making the character work in live-action is tough enough to pull off in a two-hour film, let alone in hours upon hours of episodic adventures. The 1960s show gets away with it because it’s undeniably naff, which is actually the foundation of its never-to-be-repeated charm.
The modern Batman in serial storylines, without being animated or a low-budget Internet fan-work? A project like that would be so crazy-ambitious, so disastrous to the backers and creators if poorly received, that it would be unlikely to ever exist outside of the excitable imagination of the giddy superhero-loving child in all of us.
Having said that, we absolutely need a Batman TV show right now, for the following reasons…
1. Batman Has A Rich World, Let’s Explore It
The basic appeal of the character, and the reason for his enduring popularity, is that the mythos of the Dark Knight is one of the coolest, most evocative settings in all of popular culture. Gotham City is all things to all people; it’s the ultimate urban jungle, a cross-breed of every metropolitan hell-hole in fiction or reality, with glittering towers of corporate corruption, rain-lashed crime-ridden slums, looming gothic architecture, etc, etc.
You can imagine it as relatively realistic modern city, like Christopher Nolan did; a teeming warren of humanity with a precarious social order just begging to be menaced by the forces of crime and chaos. Alternatively, you could picture it as something out of a dark fantasy, a spooky, unreal place of wonder and terror that your imagination can get lost in, similar to what happened when Tim Burton unleashed his loopy aesthetic on it.
What’s more, Batman’s world lends itself to any number of genres. Superhero epics, mysteries, procedurals, horror stories, adventure yarns…the vastness of Gotham, the sheer number of characters, and the decades of previous story-telling and re-interpretation to draw upon, mean it would surely be hard for writers to ever run out of ideas. And that’s before you start thinking about the ridiculous scale of the wider DC Universe.
Coming back to Gotham week after week lets us delve more deeply into Batman’s world than the scanty running time and commercial pressures of a big-budget movie would allow. Rather than simply trotting out the standard superhero movie plotlines (origin, stop big-name villain blowing up the city, sidekick origin, stop TWO big-name villains blowing up the city) you could throw the Bat-family into all kinds of intriguing, perilous situations, and fully exploring the ongoing ramifications rather than glibly wrapping everything up in time for the credits.
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