Dark Knight Returns was what set up the original Batman flick. Before that, there was little certainty if Batman would work as a movie because the the camp of the 60s TV series.
If they did a Dark Knight movie it'd leave a lot of people who don't read comics, trade paperbacks, or just don't read, out of the loop. Explaining everything would take a movie in and of itself. Besides, I absolutely hate Dark Knight Returns if only for one thing that happens in it. Not to spoil, but tunnel, Joker, absolute rubbish. Besides, it's Elseworlds, not canon.
On that note, there have been Batstories I hope never make it to film, because the translation would lose too much. Arkham Asylum wouldn't fly if only because it's so narrow, Thrillkiller and Gotham by Gaslamp are too elseworldsy, and Hush, which I thought was awesome, would be way too busy.
However, given the direction the Batman movies are going in, I will definitely put in a vote for All-Star Batman and Robin. The story wasn't the best in the world, but Robin's the third best known character in the DC Universe (eh, tied with Wonder Woman maybe).
"Laugh and the world laughs with you. Frown and the world laughs at you." -Me.
I hate to take on the Comic Book Guy's voice and go all "Excuse me! Excuse me!" but the original inspiration for the 1989 Tim Burton Batman movie was not The Dark Knight Returns. The Dark Knight Returns was a powerful influence, but the story that made it to the screen was an adaptation of the Steve Englehart stories from the 1970s that were collected as Batman: Strange Apparitions.
The basic ingredients for the movie are all there: The Joker, Crime Boss Rupert Thorn (Boss Carl Grissom in the movie), Silver St. Cloud (Vicki Vale in the movie), and the plot by the Joker to poison the water supply (which created the infamous Joker fish) was turned into his plot to poison all of Gotham with Smylex Gas.
It was actually those stories that inspired Batman producer Michael Uslan to see that there was a way to bring Batman to the big screen without being campy and cartoonish like the Adam West show. Then it took 10 years of development hell before Peter Guber, Jon Peters, Sam Hamm, Tim Burton etc. all came into the picture to finally bring a serious Batman movie into existence.
Check Strange Apparitions out. It's good Batman. Dated Batman from the 70's but still good.
Also, Hush blew. You couldn't adapt it into a movie without the 50 bazillion guest stars in every issue. The story itself is pretty much a lot of nonsense and weak plotting typical of Jeph Leob (can you tell I'm not a fan of his? Nope, didn't like Long Halloween or Dark Victory either.)
Batman Year One was already loosely adapted into Batman Begins, which also incorporates some of Sam Hamm's Batman: Blind Justice, where Ducard is introduced a mentor of young Bruce Wayne.
To answer the original question of the thread, I'd say I'd like to see A Death in the Family adapted. I still find that story powerful. It's highly unlikely it will ever be adapted since you'd need A) Robin and B) to kill Robin. And since Dick Grayson is Robin to the movie going public -- most of the non-comic reading general public being unaware of Jason Todd or Tim Drake -- no way would DC allow Robin, much less Dick Grayson, to die in a movie. Murdered brutally by the Joker no less. Think of the kids in the audience having to watch that. That's automatically an R rated movie, which is unthinkable for a Batman movie. Still, though, it would be a hell of a thing to see as a Batman movie.
DEATH IN THE FAMILY could work...even if the Robin in question is Jason Todd, and not Dick Grayson. A backstory could be established at the beginning of the movie explaining who Robin is...even if it's just narrated.
Who's to say that the entire Batman movie universe has to tie into each other? I mean, there's nothing wrong with having individual stories being told in film, without having it being a sequel to the prior film.
I doubt any specific Batman story could be made into a movie. Maybe a Matt Wagner miniseries like "The Mad Monk" but otherwise, no.
Death in The Family - Teenaged sidekick get killed? You think parents would let their kids see that? It's unmarketable. The only reason it did so well in the comics was that Jason was a new enough, and despicable enough character that no one cared if he died.
Arkham Asylum - Relies far too much on foreknowledge of Batman's rogue's gallery, and his history. Anything that can't really be summed up in a sentence is too hard to sell.
On that note, the perfect Batman movie villain would be Mr. Zsasz. Serial Killer with a visual hook meets CSI: Gotham City (aka Batman) Can't miss.
"Tattoos are the mullets of the aughts." - Mike Naimark
Originally posted by ZundianDeath in The Family - Teenaged sidekick get killed? You think parents would let their kids see that? It's unmarketable. The only reason it did so well in the comics was that Jason was a new enough, and despicable enough character that no one cared if he died.
Wasn't the "kill Jason Todd or not" reader vote that decided his fate really close? I know he was far from universally liked, and I'm not a huge comic book guy, but I always had the impression that killing him off was a fairly significant and controversial move at the time (it probably had little to do with the fact that it was Jason Todd and much more to do with the fact that it was Robin, but still).
The vote was set up in the four-part story "A Death in the Family" that was published in Batman #426-429 in 1988. At the end of Batman #427, Jason Todd was beaten by the Joker and left to die in an explosion. The inside back cover of the issue listed two 1-900 numbers that readers could call to vote for the character's death or survival. Within the 36 hour period alloted for voting, the poll received 10,614 votes. The verdict in favor of the character's death won by a slim margin of 5,343 votes to 5,271
Two good resources for more information about this and more about Batman's history are:
The Batman (1989) 2 disc special edition DVD. On the second disc is the special feature Legends of the Dark Night, a documentary tracing Batman's origins up until about the early 2000's featuring interviews with many of Batman's creators. The insights from Denny O'Neil on a Death in the Family are very interesting.
Also, Les Daniel's Batman: The Complete History is a must-have book for Batman afficianados. The full scope of Batman's first 50 or so years of existence is there (Man, Batman is 70 next year! Superman is 70 this year. The World's Finest Team are a couple of old codgers.)
I always thought that DKR would not make a good, or at least marketable, Batman movie because no one would want to see some old geezer running around playing hero. But now that we have Indy 4, maybe that isn't the case.
"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."
I actually prefer "Gospel" by Wilton Barnhardt to either of these books, as a thriller/mystery devoting large sections of text to church history and conspiracy theory. There's more fun to be had in that book.