Batman: DarKnight was another sequel script to Batman & Robin (after Batman Unchained was halted). Lee Shapiro and Stephen Wise drafted the script and the project was being shepherded by WB executive Greg Silverman without input from Joel Schumacher, who had been exiled from the franchise at that point.
Bruce Wayne is in self-imposed seclusion from life, because he feels he has lost his greatest weapons in the fight against crime: his mystique and his enemies' fear. Dick Grayson attends Gotham University, trying to discover who he is apart from his guardian and unwilling to return as Robin without him. Meanwhile, Dr. Jonathan Crane uses his position as professor of psychology at Gotham University and as resident psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum to conduct his experiments in fear. During a vengeful confrontation with a colleague, Dr. Kirk Langstrom, Jonathan Crane unknowingly initiates Kirk's transformation into the creature known as Man-Bat. The unsuspecting denizens of Gotham scream for Batman's head, believing that Man-Bat's nightly hunts is the Dark Knight's bloodthirsty return to action. Bruce dons cape and cowl once more to clear his name and solve the mystery behind these attacks. Eventually, Dick ends up in Arkham Asylum under Crane's unsympathetic watch, and Kirk struggles with his "man vs. monster" syndrome as he longs to both reunite with his wife and get revenge on Crane.
At the end of the script Batman gives Commissioner Gordon a red cell phone, letting him know he's back on duty. As Batman's cape flutters in the wind a crow flies by him and lands by the window of Tetch's Clothing Shop, the silhouette of a man with a tophat can be seen.
- George Clooney as Bruce Wayne/Batman
- Chris O'Donnell as Dick Grayson/Robin
- Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Jonathan Crane/The Scarecrow
- Michael Gough as Alfred
- Pat Hingle as Commissioner Gordon
- The script was vaguely inspired by Frank Miller's 1986 Dark Knight series, as it featured a slightly older, weary Bruce Wayne coming out of retirement as Batman to save Gotham.
- Certain story beats and lines of dialogue from this script were used by David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan in Batman Begins, which features Scarecrow as a secondary villain.