Batman Wiki
Batman Wiki

Batman: DarKnight[1] 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 Tom Lassally 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. Crane also has a medical condition where he is unable to feel pain, as a result he is covered in scar tissue. 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.



Shapiro & Wise pitched to Greg Silverman a return to the earlier Tim Burton style of the Batman Film Franchise. Both had considered Batman Returns to best of the four films WB had released up to that point, because the two villains on briefly work together and quickly turn against each other. They also disliked how the main villain also always had an army of goons, to avoid these cliches Scarecrow worked alone and unknowingly triggers Man-Bat's plight. Inspiration for the title came from the Dark Night of the Scarecrow, a 1973 independent horror film. Combing the title into one word was done to avoid confusion with Frank Miller's 1986 Dark Knight series, which they thought the public would assume they were adapting. The only similarity was that it featured slightly older, weary Bruce Wayne coming out of retirement as Batman to save Gotham.


They had been developing their Batman 5 script WB with executive Tom Lassally, who was in charge of the ip at the time. By the time they sent Lassally the script he left the company that week. Lee Shapiro came up with idea of sending themed gifts to the WB office as reminders, one of which was box full of hay with Kenner figures of Scarecrow & Man-Bat, with a decorative poem. The pair disliked living in the Los Angeles area and communicated with WB executives only by phone. As a result they were unable to attend meetings in-person at the drop of a hat like their competitors. The script was under consideration for two years and was promptly dropped when Frank Miller showed interest in joining Darren Aronofsky's take on Batman: Year One.

Impact on Future Screenplays

The Batman Begins project uses concepts and imagery from Shapiro & Wise's drafts.

  • One the conceptual logos made by Lee Shapiro was used as the basis of Begins logo.
  • Using dark brown earth tones for atmosphere and marketing
  • The scene where Rachel Dawes is attacked by Crane in a elevator
  • Six lines that are very similar
  • The image of Scarecrow on a horse, also presented without setup or explanation
  • The sequence of Arkham inmates released after being tormented by Crane for years, setting up them possibly becoming future rogues gallery villains.