Due to comics that most superhero movies are based off of, there are an endless supply of unique characters and versions of our favorites to create new content from. Many of them are unknown by most DC and Marvel cinematic fans, but there are a couple that break through the comics and gain popularity from non-comic readers, as well. One of these characters is The Batman Who Laughs.
The Batman Who Laughs is a villain that's a hybrid of the Joker and Batman that exists in an alternate universe. He has a cult following and a number of fans that would love to see the twisted character come to life in a movie. However, due to his dark nature, a movie that involves him would require DC to step into new territory.
This begs the question: Could The Batman Who Laughs Ever Show Up in a Movie? History of The Batman Who Laughs DC Comics The Batman Who Laughs was created by Scott Snyder and Greg Pacullo. He made his first appearance in the DC Rebirth era, which was launched in 2016. His first cameo can be found in Dark Days: The Casting #1, which was released in 2017 as a prelude to the Dark Nights: Metal event.
It was in Dark Nights: Metal #1 that he makes his first full appearance. He plays a bigger role in Dark Nights: Metal - Dark Knights Rising series, a collection of 8 comics that feature different, twisted versions of Batman in the dark multiverse. He even had his own miniseries released in 2019 titled The Batman Who Laughs that contained 7 issues focused on the character.
This was followed by key appearances in Batman/Superman, Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen, and Dark Nights: Death Metal. According to ComicBookWire, there is a specific reading order to get the most out of the character. The Batman Who Laughs has also been featured in a multitude of video games, including Mortal Kombat 11, Injustice: Gods Among Us mobile, and DC Universe online.
Distributed by Warner Bros. Television Distribution The Batman Who Laughs is an alternate Bruce Wayne from Earth -22 in the dark multiverse. In this reality, the Joker discovers that he's dying from the chemicals he was exposed to in his past and goes on a killing spree of Batman's enemies and friends.
He paralyzes Batman and forces him to watch him commit atrocities, including killing the parents of young children and injecting the surviving children with a Joker Venom in order to create a Joker/Batman hybrid. When Batman recovers, he breaks the Joker's neck, disobeying the one rule that he has: never kill. Unfortunately, in his last breath, the Joker released a potent toxin that would soon drive Batman insane.
Batman ends up shooting down the entire Bat Family (other than Alfred) in order to keep his secret and then continues on to wipe out the Justice League and the rest of the world. The only survivors he allowed were the children infected with the Joker Venom, as well as his son, Damian, who he also purposely infected. By doing this, he created a small army of "Rabid Robins." After keeping Alfred imprisoned, he eventually breaks his butler into joining him, as well.
Warner Bros. Pictures It's an understatement to say that The Batman Who Laughs is a seriously twisted character. His story is one of the most morbid in DC Comics.
Is DC really ready to take on the dark character in a movie? DC is generally known as being pretty bleak. In some of its more recent installments, such as Joker and The Batman, that bleakness is taken to a new level. Watching the theoretical origin story unfold in Joker can even be difficult to watch at times.
Similarly to The Batman, there are not many, if any, redeeming moments of hope or happiness. However, they were still acclaimed by audiences and critics and both have sequels announced. DC also released a teaser in the epilogue of the Justice League Snyder Cut that sets up an apocalyptic world reminiscent of the Injustice universe that has many of our favorite characters killed off and hints at Superman being the main, unhinged antagonist.
With these developments, it seems like DC is willing to lean more into the darker storylines. They may even be planning to follow in the steps of Marvel and explore a multiverse under its recently changed creative leadership. Marvel is embracing more dark elements recently, as well.
Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is labeled as a horror movie and includes quite a few morbid visuals and gory deaths. For example, the scene in which the Scarlet Witch kills each member of the Illuminati by using their own powers against them features some of the most gruesome deaths in the entire MCU.
While the film had mixed reviews for a variety of reasons, Wanda's killing spree generally had a positive reaction from fans. The superhero genre has come a long way from the goofy Batman original movies and the Superman who was the epitome of everything that's good in a hero. It's evolving, and that could involve more movies that cross the line from dark to spine-chilling.
DC Comics The Batman franchise has seemingly endless animated movies and series that depict some of the more niche characters from the comics. These movies generally never make it to the theaters and have a much higher threshold for violence and psychological horror. Some of the more intense options include Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, where Mark Hamill's Joker tortures Robin to the point of insanity and Robin ends up killing him, and Batman: The Killing Joke, where Joker's traumatic origin is revealed and Batman is finally forced to kill him.
Due to the more violent nature of these movies, as well as their penchant to include lesser known characters, the odds of an animated movie including The Batman Who Laughs does not seem that far out of reach. It is much easier to envision than a live action movie, where the characters tend to be a little more mainstream and the ratings of the movies in theaters are extremely important. DC Comics The Batman Who Laughs is undoubtedly a fan favorite character.
A movie that features him and his universe would be a breath of fresh air among all the regurgitated origin stories that audiences have seen time and time again. DC and superhero movies in general seem to be embracing darker themes and are in need of original ideas to expand their universes further. However, it's difficult to tell if DC is willing to take their gritty movies further and step into the gruesome territory that The Batman Who Laughs requires.
It seems more likely that The Batman Who Laughs could be adapted into an animated movie, but that doesn't mean to say that there's no hope for a live action movie. There's an audience that calls for it, and if the Justice League Snyder Cut has taught us anything, it's that DC tries to listen to its fans.