The Deal: this is the sixth in a series of pitches for the rebooted DC Movies. I’m using AI art to mock-up these pitches, because it really adds to the madness, and especially for this pitch, we need all the madness we can get.
Batman is maybe the toughest nut to crack, because there have been so many Batman movies, and we’re going to stay away from origins for the most part. And that’s why we’re going to follow the Deadpool route, and make this a Valentine’s date movie.
We start in Arkham. I think the Arkham games found a good compromise, between the spooky, gothic architecture and the fact that there’s still plenty of real-world hospital infrastructure in place, too, so think a spooky castle retrofitted with bland tile and easy to clean hospital walls. We follow Dr. Quinzel, her hair already in twin tails, wearing a red and black corset beneath her buttoned up lab coat, humming the Joker’s theme song from the Batman Animated Series, because he’s too good a character not to have his own iconic theme.
She enters a secured room. She’s firm but kind as she hands over the plant. She put her job on the line vouching for Ivy- but if she attempts to use the plant to break out they’ll use the defoliant sprinklers. Ivy ignores the threat- which is old hat at this point. She’s transfixed with the plant; she’s basically a mother reunited with her child. Both glow under the grow light- which Ivy also credits Harley for. She thanks Harley, for being the one doctor in here who isn’t just putting her under the microscope, but who listens. In exchange she offers her own advice: “The clown isn’t good enough for you. He chews people up and spits them out, not to prove any kind of point, but because he thinks it’s funny. You’re as special as this blossom,” she gently strokes the plant’s petals, “and you shouldn’t settle for anyone who can’t see that.”
We cut to the DC title sequence.
We’re in the Gotham subway system at night. A gang, calling themselves the “Mutants,” dressed in that strange 80s punk aesthetic from the Dark Knight Returns, menace first a black street musician named Milan, and then a woman waiting for the last train of the night. One of them pulls out a switchblade, and is about to mug her, when Batman swoops in and starts fighting them. The street musician starts playing Wesley Willis’ “I Whupped Batman’s Ass,” but as the fight goes on, he changes it to, “Batman Kicked My Ass” (which would be a slight variation on Willis’ “Birdman Kicked My Ass.” As he’s about to leave, Batman retrieves a green batarang from his belt, and throws it into the musician’s open case; the musician unfolds it, to find it’s an origami $100 bill. He looks up to thank Batman, but he’s gone.
Batman slides into his car, and roars off. Alfred calls over a built-in radio. “Commissioner Gordon has requested your presence. A break-in at WayneTech. Security footage shows the clown in the anaesthesia lab. They’re reporting a casualty.” The Batmobile’s engine growls as he increases speed.
We start in on a Wayne security guard with a rictus grin, with the name plate Owens. Batman is studying him, while an EMT assures him they used the anti-toxin Batman distributed to the city’s ambulance companies- but it hasn’t had an effect. “He’s using a new formula.” Batman has a booster in his utility belt. The smile softens somewhat. “He may experience facial paralysis. He’ll need to consult a plastic surgeon; there may be tissue damage.” Batman hands him the card of a good one, that Wayne’s insurance will cover. The EMT promises to tell him.
Batman walks to the lab where the majority of the damage was done. Commissioner Gordon is overseeing the case; he personally oversees any case involving the Joker. Gordon doesn’t know what Joker was after. “An experimental tranquilizer,” Batman says. “Gotham has a high proportion of meta humans and mutations. Typical tranquilizers don’t work on all of them, or even the same way. I consulted, and shared some tissue samples. Every other work station is smashed. But he was careful with this one. He knew what he wanted, and that it was fragile. If he has that, he’ll be able to reproduce it. He’s a chemical savant- that’s why we have such trouble keeping up with his Joker toxins.” Gordon goes to ask him a question, but he’s gone.
Batman swings down to his Batmobile. The lights come on as he approahes, and we’ll think he just has it remote controlled, until it peels away. He grapnels onto the top of the car. It’s not responding to the controls in his gauntlet. The driver swerves, nearly knocking him off. He manages to get the edge of a batarang jammed into the sliding top, and uses his cape to direct a gas grenade’s contents inside the car. The car crashes somewhat languidly into a light pole. Batman wrenches the roof open, to find an early teen asleep at the wheel.
The teen wakes in the batcave. It’s mostly dark, lit only by the instrument panel in the Batmobile. “Jason Todd, in and out of foster homes and orphanages since you could crawl,” Batman’s voice booms, coming from everywhere at once, augmented by the cave’s sound system. “I won’t bore you with your history, all the reasons you spent time in juvey, but your record indicates you’re on track for life in prison by your twenty-third birthday.” Suddenly Batman is behind him, and tears him out of the car with one hand. “So why did you steal my car?”
At first Jason is defiant. He’s been living on the streets, fending off all kinds of predators, for most of his young life. Batman tries to intimidate him, but Jason pivots, and says, “You’re not going to beat on me. In a way, that makes this cave safer than most of the foster homes I’ve been in.” Batman tells him he’s put 37 juveniles in the hospital. “Yeah, in self-defense, or protecting other people. And I tried to take your car because while I can’t steal a home, I can live in a car, and that seems like a pretty safe one to live in.” Batman comments that he managed not to damage the security measures getting inside. “Of course not. Wouldn’t be very safe anymore if I did.” Jason sees his opening. “You were faster, this time. Usually, crime scene investigation involving the Joker, and someone he poisoned, I should have had another 48 seconds.”
“You’ve been tailing me.” Jason’s stomach growls. “You’re hungry.”
As if on cue, Alfred arrives, with a sandwich, cut in half. His eyebrow raises. “Taking in strays again?”
“Kid needs a place to stay, and we do have extra rooms,” Batman says.
“Very good, sir,” Alfred offers the sandwiches first to Jason, who hesitates for only a moment before tearing into one.
We cut to Harley is sneaking in very Scooby Doo fashion into an overgrown plant sanctuary on the outskirts of town with a bottle of ether and a rag. She’s caught, almost immediately, and held by plant vines. “Heya, Red,” she says. Ivy tells Harley she’s immune to poisons- ether included, and Harley says “Oops, I forgot,” and drops both. Ivy’s skeptical- Harley didn’t forget- this is something else.
Harley exuberantly tells her she was going to kidnap her to create a rose garden that grows in a bat symbol- a bat symbol Joker could destroy that would then replenish itself, so he could destroy it all over again. Harley tells Ivy she wants the roses to have blackberry genes, so whatever Mister J throws at them, they’ll spring back. “Oh, Harley,” Ivy says, recognizing that the resilience she’s seeking in the plants is what she’s needed to survive him, and that her gift idea is to find something else to absorb his abuse.
She tricks Harley, telling her they’ll need some supplies. Instead they go shopping. They run into Bruce Wayne, and Ivy uses her pheremones to kidnap him and bring him along on their spree to pay for everything. Harley is focused on things to please Joker, but Ivy keeps steering her towards things that make her feel good, too- emphasizing that Joker should want to make her happy, too, that what makes her happy should make him happy.
Alfred, who witnesses the kidnapping, calls Batgirl. She calls Dick Grayson. At first he’s excited to hear from her. “I know you and Bruce aren’t on the best of terms, right now…” she says, and his face falls, “but someone kidnapped him, off the street. I could use the back-up.” He shows up not in his Robin gear, but as Nightwing. She comments that it looks good- and that he couldn’t dress like a Lost Boy his whole life.
Alfred keeps tabs on Bruce and his kidnappers, so it doesn’t take long for them to catch up. Batgirl and Nightwing have a will-they-won’t-they kind of romance; Batgirl has something of a crush on Bruce, but it’s a schoolgirl and her professor thing, and he views her as a surrogate daughter. They manage to free Bruce. Harley and Ivy get away, and Bruce is convinced their plans don’t have anything to do with the Joker’s.
On the police scanner, they hear about two crimes, a break-in at the bat research center, and one at Arkham. Batman takes the bat center, because he’s still a little worse for wear after being poisoned by Ivy, while the other two take Arkham.
One of the scientists working at the bat research center, Dr. Karl Lykos, has been taken. No ransom yet. An overweight detective, Harvey Bullock, is working the scene, sweating profusely. At one point he decides to sit in a chair, not noticing the whoopie cushion on it. Batman does, and tackles him out of the way, as it explodes violently.
At Arkham, Batgirl delivers an anti-toxin to an orderly named Westen. He’s able to wheeze out that Joker spent several minutes agitated, talking to Freeze, before leaving emtpy-handed. Freeze coldly refuses to speak to them. They’re skeptical, but call Batman. He thinks the victims’ names are a clue- that either Joker is hiding out at Low Pharmaceuticals, or the defunct owl sanctuary. Batman is closer to the owl sancutary, and they’ll take Low. Barbara lingers behind, feeling there’s more investigative work to be done.
Ivy creates the box garden Harley asked for, and grows a bat symbol out of it, offering to help her deliver it to the Joker. But she hesitates, then offers her thoughts, because she’d rather not give something beautiful to a man who doesn’t appreciate it, and will ultimately destroy it. This time, Ivy cups Harley’s cheek, to guide her gaze to meet hers, so Harley can’t ignore that Ivy is talking about her. “Because I’d rather this go to someone who appreciates its beauty.” Ivy waves her hand, and the blossoms change, instead becoming Harley’s black and red diamond pattern. Ivy kisses Harley, and it’s at first a beautiful moment… but then Harley pulls back. She’s still with Joker, still feels like she can’t do this, and leaves.
Batman arrives at the owl sanctuary. There are rose petals cut into the shape of bat symbols adorning the walkway. The large, open room is initially dark, until Joker is lit with a spotlight. Joker’s dressed sharply, think the date night version of what he usually wears, hair slicked back. One side of his head is conspicuously bandaged in what feels like both an homage to Two-Face and Hush. Joker gives a speech about their relationship, how important they are to one another, how he is the ying to Batman’s yoni.
The entire thing should read in Joker’s mind as affectionate bordering on romantic, and to the rest of the world as incredibly creepy. He reveals his grand gesture, Man-Bat, suspended by chains with his wings spread and lit with spotlights to resemble the Bat Signal. His chest has been cut open, the tissue pinned back to form a wet, pink heart in the center. It should be gruesome for a moment, until Batman says, “That isn’t Lykos.” He doesn’t wait for confirmation, but wings a batarang at the ‘Man-Bat’s’ wing, which tears away in a strange, wet clump.
Now we’re with Nightwing. He’s discovered a sonic emitter, and disables it. He’s not sure he understands it. It was broadcasting at a frequency that only dogs could hear, and not loud enough to cause any real damage. He’s attacked by Man-Bat, who was drawn by the signal.
We’re back at Arkham with Batgirl. She’s stopped at Clayface’s cell, noticing that the window looks different than the others. She opens his cell, but he ignores her. She reaches for him, and her hand sinks into his chest. It’s hollow. She pulls back her hand as Clayface attacks; she leaps out of the way, and closes the cell back up. She left an explosive inside Clayface, and detonates it, splattering him across the walls of his cell. Clayface’s window melts; it was made of clay, too, covering the hole through which the rest of him escaped. Barbara calls to the others that Clayface is loose.
We’re back with Batman, as ‘Man-Bat’ reverts to clay and falls from the ceiling, engulfing Batman. As he fruitlessly struggles, Joker admits that he must not have given Lykos enough tranquilizer earlier, so he escaped, and Joker had to improvise. Clayface was going to be a chocolate fountain immortalizing Batman pushing him into a vat of acid that attacked him once he got close. He also wanted an ice sculpture that would shatter into ice shrapnel, but Freeze refused to exchange it for his freedom, and didn’t even budge when Joker threatened Nora.
And that is when Harley enters. She’s furious, realizing she has been trying to build out a romantic Valentine’s Day for Joker, and he wasn’t even giving her a second thought, because he was busy obsessing over Batman. It’s Harley who kicks Joker’s ass while Batman fends off Clayface.
Nightwing throws a batarang on a line around Man-Bat, then gets dragged along into the air, literally only able to hold on for dear life. It’s not until Batgirl arrives that they can manage to wrangle the beast enough to give it the serum that counters his transformation. They manage to catch all three of them with ropes, and end up dangling precariously upside-down a moment, during which they share a brief little upside-down kiss. Nightwing is somewhat anxious, realizing he hopes that was romantic, and not him making their working relationship uncomfortable. “I’m pretty sure I got saliva up my nose,” she says, “and I’m just praying it was yours or mine, and not his.” Man-Bat is drooling profusely hanging above them; Batgirl realizes now she’s making it awkward, and gives him a second peck. “But totally worth it. We should just get down before things gets a lot slimier.”
Harley returns to Ivy. Ivy’s apologetic. She shouldn’t have kissed her like that. Harley’s apologetic, too. She’s been in an abusive relationship so long she couldn’t recognize real affection when it was staring lovingly into her eyes. But she taps the breaks. Because with the Joker’s spell over her broken, she recognizes she doesn’t want a rebound fling. She needs to figure out who Harleen Quinnzel is without Joker, before she can try to figure out who she should be in a healthy relationship. She’s very clear. “This is not a soft ‘No,’ Ivy. When I’m ready, if you want the first dance, I’ll save it for you. And if you find another dance partner before then, I truly hope they sweep you off your feet, because you deserve that.” They embrace.
We cut to Dick and Bruce riding silently home in the Batmobile. “So,” Dick says with a smile, “I imagine that wasn’t the Valentine’s Day you expected.”
“I had hoped to take Vesper to dinner. Tell Joker you have plans, and he laughs.”
“And you’re sure you haven’t done anything to encourage his twisted affections?”
“He’s a stalker, more dangerous for his self-importance. Nothing more.” For a moment they’re quiet, but Batman notices something in Dick. He’s happier than usual, even for him. “What about you?”
Dick can’t help but grin. “It was not what I was expecting, and yet.. one of the better Valentine’s I can remember.” Dick’s smile fades as they’re greeted in the batcave by Jason Todd in a Robin costume. “Bruce, this is a terrible idea.”
“I know,” he says. “That’s why you should train him. Because you survived me, and Gotham. You understand my faults in a way I’m too close to see. And you understand better than anyone what it takes to be Robin.”
“And if I’m certain there shouldn’t be one?”
“That’s between you and the kid. I might agree with you- there’s a reason I haven’t tried to replace you.. But convincing him is the rub.”
“You’re a real prick, you know that?” Dick asks, but he’s smiling.
“So you’ve told me,” Bruce says, grim, but behind it, he’s happier than he’s been in quite some time, and finally feels like his little family is whole again. Credits.