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  1. #1
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    Default Headcanon for unifying the Bat film universes

    I've been a bit bored of the comics lately — neither the post-King run nor the new Batman Adventures have done much to capture my attention — but it's been fun rewatching some of the old Burton/Schumacher films again on HBO Max.

    And then I got to thinking, with both Joker (2019) including Joker again in the Wayne murders, and Michael Keaton returning as Bruce Wayne/Batman — how impossible would it be to apply the Grant Morrison approach of "everything happened" to the film universes?

    With a little bit of squinting, you can kind of make them all fit with this timeline:


    The (Imperfect) All Live-Action Batman Timeline

    Year Zero
    JOKER — Arthur Fleck imagines he might be a missing Wayne relative. His descent into madness results in becoming Joker on the Murray Franklin show. This inspires riots in Gotham, which leads to Thomas & Martha Wayne being murdered in front of young Bruce. The Joker becomes a symbol of chaos.

    GOTHAM (TV) — Bruce Wayne's parents are murdered; Selina Kyle witnesses this and befriends him. We see several people inspired by the original Joker, and follow Jim Gordon's battle against corruption effectively lead nowhere. Eddie Nash/Nygma, Oswald Cobbplepot, Falcone, Maroni, and other future players make moves in the underworld.

    Year One
    BATMAN BEGINS — Bruce Wayne fails to avenge the murder of his parents caused by Joe Chill, the convicted killer, when he's shot by an assassin sent by mafia kingpin Boss Falcone. Traveling the world, Bruce learns the means to fight injustice and creates Batman. He stops Ra's al Ghul and the League of Shadows from destroying Gotham.

    Year Two
    THE DARK KNIGHT — While Batman works with Jim Gordon of the GCPD and DA Harvey Dent to dismantle Gotham's mob structure, the city is terrorized by a "new" face... a man wearing paint called The Joker (Bruce is too young to remember his first appearance on The Murray Franklin Show). In the end, Dent is scarred as Two-Face, and Batman retreats into being an enemy of the GCPD, but Joker is captured by GCPD and placed in Arkham Asylum. James Gordon becomes Commissioner.

    Year Three
    SUICIDE SQUAD / HARLEY QUINN — In the flashbacks, Joker escapes from Arkham Asylum with the help of Dr. Harleen Quinzel, then takes her to Ace Chemicals to transform her. In the present day, Joker is a mob boss (set during the events of Batman '89).

    BATMAN (1989) — Batman has disappeared long enough to become an urban legend, but still works in the shadows. Harvey Dent survives the fall from The Dark Knight, and receives reconstructive surgery and ends up looking like Billy Dee Williams (ALTERNATIVELY it could be that Billy Dee Dent is an impersonator for the real Dent to help Gordon cover up his crimes). The man formerly known as Arthur Fleck has rebuilt his life as Jack Napier, an alias he takes at the end of JOKER (the name "Jack" being a common nickname (like 'hey Jack, move it') and inspired by his "lucky deck" of cards). When Jack falls into a vat of chemicals that scars his skin back into his old identity, his final transformation into the permanent Joker is complete.
    Bruce remembers that Jack was present with Joe Chill on the night of his parents murder, and was in fact the triggerman. (Whether Bruce or Arthur are remembering correctly or not is unclear — both of their memories may be unreliable. Another possibility is that the Jack Nicholson "Jack Napier" is like Don Draper in Mad Men, he assumed the identity of the actual Napier that killed the Waynes. That headcanon is fun because then Batman is denied BOTH TIMES of avenging his parents killer ... Joe Chill assassinated by Falcone, and the real Jack Napier killed by Arthur Fleck.)
    In the end, Batman rescues Vicki Vale from Joker at the top of Gotham Cathedral and then watches as Arthur/Jack/Joker falls to his death.

    Year Four
    BATMAN RETURNS — Batman has earned the city's trust again, and has given them a nice new bat signal. Then Oswald Cobblepot returns as the Penguin to ruin his reputation again. Bruce meets Selina Kyle / Catwoman for the first time as adults, but they part ways in the end.

    Year Five
    BATMAN FOREVER — Dent's reconstructed face was destroyed again by Maroni when he tried to prosecute him (he also survived TDK apparently). Two Face joins forces with disgruntled Wayne Enterprises employee, Eddie Nygma, to fund The Riddler's "Box" and brain-drain all of Gotham. Two Face becomes increasingly destructive and anarchic. He kills the Flying Graysons. Dick Grayson moves into Wayne Manor and then becomes Robin. He confronts Two Face and sends him to another fall, and this time it does kill him.

    Year Six
    BATMAN & ROBIN — Alfred gets sick. Victor Fries & Pamela Isley wreck havoc on Gotham. Batman & Robin's partnership weakens. Alfred's niece Barbara Wilson becomes Batgirl for an adventure. We meet the masked mercenary -- Bane. In the end, all seems well, but it's a false victory.

    Year Seven
    TITANS (2019 TV) — Dick Grayson leaves Wayne Manor behind for Detroit. Meanwhile, Jason Todd becomes the second Robin. Grayson recruits other allies and eventually becomes Nightwing.

    Year Eight
    THE DARK KNIGHT RISES — Seven years removed from Dent's descent into Two Face, Bruce is visited again by Selina Kyle who returns for another Christmas miracle. The League of Shadows come back to occupy Gotham at the behest of Talia al Ghul with the help of Bane, who returns and breaks the Bat's body and spirit. But Batman saves the day, gets rid of a bomb, and retires. He leaves the mantle of the Bat to John Blake, a GCPD patrol officer who comes recommended from Dick Grayson. Blake's future is unknown.

    The Lost Years
    BATMAN (1966 TV & MOVIE) — These are tales from Alfred's journal, describing what he thinks Batman and Robin's adventures might've been like, now that both "Batman" and "Robin" are no more. You can see how he's translating the "real" events into a more colorful story (including how hard it can be to get rid of a bomb). They are based on "true" events, but exaggerated.

    BATWOMAN (2020 TV) — In the absence of Batman, a new Bat emerges in Gotham.

    Year Fifteen
    BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE — Seven years after his last appearance, Bruce Wayne has returned once again from exile to face an existential threat to humanity: alien gods. In the end, he realizes he and Superman share a common humanity when he discovers they both had moms named... Martha! We get a hint that Robin (Jason Todd) was killed in the years between by someone inspired by the Joker, and this may be the reason Bruce has distanced himself from all other allies besides Alfred. He's more violent than he's ever been as a result.

    Year Sixteen
    JUSTICE LEAGUE — Having been reminded of his original purpose by Superman's sacrifice, Batman resolves to do more with his power and starts to think bigger. He and Wonder Woman travel the world to form the Justice League, and revive Superman in time to save the planet from an Apokolips invasion.

    Year Unknown
    BIRDS OF PREY (TV) — Huntress, the daughter of Batman & Catwoman (revealed to be killed by Clayface impersonating the Joker), teams up with the daughter of Jim Gordon, Oracle, to defend New Gotham from a vengeful Harley Quinn.
    --


    We'll see how THE BATMAN turns out but since it seems like it's going to be in the early years, it's likely best sandwiched between BATMAN BEGINS and THE DARK KNIGHT.

    And with the upcoming Multiverse, we'll see to what degree that changes things. I suspect, even after, it will still be possible to view the films through the Morrison lens of "Everything Happened."



    It's interesting that both Joker vs Batman films also include Dent, that both Catwoman films are set during Christmas, and that Bane is serving a woman superior in both appearance. It's also interesting how JOKER returned the character to the Wayne murders; revisiting the BATMAN 89 version of the origin, knowing that Michael Uslan intended for the non-Napier mugger to be Joe Chill, you can see how both could work together. It might be that Bruce is misremembering the extent of Jack's involvement — or it might be that Arthur edited out that action from his version of events in JOKER. It's possible that Joe Chill was convicted ("we got 'im") but Napier escaped until '89.

    Anyway. What do you think? More interested in any additional ways to fan-headcanon duct tape the Bat Media together than in pointing out how they DON'T fit... pitch solutions!
    Last edited by gregpersons; 07-05-2020 at 12:59 AM.

  2. #2
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    Updated the timeline with "Year" markings. They kinda work! You can still do a seven-year gap between TDK and TDKR.

  3. #3
    Fantastic Member witchboy's Avatar
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    I was thinking, at least thematically, how to put them in a kind of unified watching order.
    There's always Gotham to throw in there between Joker and Batman Begins.
    And the two serials, that I haven't seen yet. I figured on putting those between Batman and Robin, and Batman '66.
    I was also thinking to follow up Batman'66 with the Brave and the Bold cartoon, for a stylistic link anyways.
    The more you add, the harder it is, but it's a great list. I can see it as a unified series and accept that there will be continuity issues because they weren't intended to fit together perfectly.

  4. #4
    Better than YOU! Alan2099's Avatar
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    One of the interesting things about trying to make one timeline is Joker.

    Taking the events of the Joker movie into account, the Joker becomes almost like a Guy Fawkes mask. I can easy see ledger's Joker adopting the identity to cause chaos, and Leto's adopting it for reputation.

    Of course the original is still the original.

    I problem we also run into is who killed Batman's parents. Begins told us it was Joe Chill. Batman said it was Jack Napier. Joker said it was just some random guy in a Joker mask.

    I think the easiest solution to this is ... they're all the same guy.

    "Joe Chill" is just another alias Jack Napier used back when he was trying a bit too hard to be cool. "Jack" in his younger days took part in the Joker riot. Later, he killed Bruce's parents, and he was nearly killed in Begins, but survived and became a right hand man to Boss Grissam, until a chemical bath later turned him into THE Joker. He wasn't just some guy who wore a mask or makeup like everyone before him. He was transformed. (Later a younger punk would copy his chemical bath treatment to become the newer (Leto) Joker.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan2099 View Post
    One of the interesting things about trying to make one timeline is Joker.

    Taking the events of the Joker movie into account, the Joker becomes almost like a Guy Fawkes mask. I can easy see ledger's Joker adopting the identity to cause chaos, and Leto's adopting it for reputation.

    Of course the original is still the original.

    I problem we also run into is who killed Batman's parents. Begins told us it was Joe Chill. Batman said it was Jack Napier. Joker said it was just some random guy in a Joker mask.

    I think the easiest solution to this is ... they're all the same guy.

    "Joe Chill" is just another alias Jack Napier used back when he was trying a bit too hard to be cool. "Jack" in his younger days took part in the Joker riot. Later, he killed Bruce's parents, and he was nearly killed in Begins, but survived and became a right hand man to Boss Grissam, until a chemical bath later turned him into THE Joker. He wasn't just some guy who wore a mask or makeup like everyone before him. He was transformed. (Later a younger punk would copy his chemical bath treatment to become the newer (Leto) Joker.
    That could work, although I saw on one of the wikis that Michael Uslan (the producer of every Bat media anything, owns all film rights for the character and EP on it all, super fanboy dude who bought the rights early) made sure that Batman 89 had two muggers -- Jack Napier and "Other Mugger" who is supposed to be Joe Chill.

    So its possible it was both Chill & Joker on the same night -- which is kind of like the version in Joker 2019, except Arthur isn't as directly involved. Another possibility is that the Jack Nicholson "Jack Napier" is like Don Draper in Mad Men, he assumed the identity of the actual Napier that killed the Waynes.

    That headcanon is fun because then Batman is denied BOTH TIMES of avenging his parents killer ... Joe Chill assassinated by Falcone, and the real Jack Napier killed by Arthur Fleck.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by witchboy View Post
    I was thinking, at least thematically, how to put them in a kind of unified watching order.
    There's always Gotham to throw in there between Joker and Batman Begins.
    And the two serials, that I haven't seen yet. I figured on putting those between Batman and Robin, and Batman '66.
    I was also thinking to follow up Batman'66 with the Brave and the Bold cartoon, for a stylistic link anyways.
    The more you add, the harder it is, but it's a great list. I can see it as a unified series and accept that there will be continuity issues because they weren't intended to fit together perfectly.
    Good point. And I haven't actually watched Birds Of Prey (the old TV show, not the Harley Quinn movie) but I think that could also work in the timeline gap between Dark Knight Rises and Batman v Superman. I guess it kind of explains what happens with Catwoman (in a shitty way but at least an explanation for why she's not around in BvS time).
    Last edited by gregpersons; 07-05-2020 at 12:48 AM.

  7. #7

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    Titans season 1 could be year 18. I always pictured Ben Affleck's Batman fitting how Dick sees him in the show.

    I always wanted to do a fanfic where Alfred pops up instead of Jason.
    Last edited by the illustrious mr. kenway; 07-04-2020 at 11:04 AM.

  8. #8
    Fantastic Member witchboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregpersons View Post
    Good point. And I haven't actually watched Birds Of Prey (the old TV show, not the Harley Quinn movie) but I think that could also work in the timeline gap between Dark Knight Rises and Batman v Superman. I guess it kind of explains what happens with Catwoman (in a shitty way but at least an explanation for why she's not around in BvS time).
    Birds of Prey is a good one to bring up.
    I'm not sure on the timeline, but I would put it after BvS. I don't see Bruce in BvS as being old enough to be the father of Huntress in BoP. It still explains away Selina's absence, she's already dead and there's a young Helena growing up with Bruce out of her life. Barbara's age lines up better that way too I think.
    There's no definitive answer for that I don't think, that's just how I see it fitting better.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by witchboy View Post
    Birds of Prey is a good one to bring up.
    I'm not sure on the timeline, but I would put it after BvS. I don't see Bruce in BvS as being old enough to be the father of Huntress in BoP. It still explains away Selina's absence, she's already dead and there's a young Helena growing up with Bruce out of her life. Barbara's age lines up better that way too I think.
    There's no definitive answer for that I don't think, that's just how I see it fitting better.
    That works. I guess the question to whether it goes before or after BvS would be if there are any "Jokerz gangs" in BOP? IIRC there are, and if so, that could explain why the Robin costume (Jason Todd from Titans we're imagining) has Joker writing on it.


    Edit -- I just checked the wikipedia and the only Joker presence is Harley Quinn and, apparently, Clayface impersonating Joker. Otherwise the fact that it takes place in "New Gotham" means it's probably best set in an unknown future date. However, it's not impossible to slot it earlier in the timeline and assume "New Gotham" is merely a district in the city like The Narrows.

    Harley & Dinah & Huntress don't really fit their depictions in the BOP 2020 movie, but it's not impossible to square it. There's two different Huntresses (maybe Helena Wayne was inspired by Bertinelli as much as she was her parents), and Harley's character could theoretically regress to becoming obsessed again with Joker in the future, especially after he's killed in '89.
    Last edited by gregpersons; 07-05-2020 at 12:48 AM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by the illustrious mr. kenway View Post
    Titans season 1 could be year 18. I always pictured Ben Affleck's Batman fitting how Dick sees him in the show.

    I always wanted to do a fanfic where Alfred pops up instead of Jason.
    I slotted Titans into Year 7, explaining what happens after "Batman & Robin" and before "Dark Knight Rises." Which suits the Bruce Wayne of the Titans show, since he seems to be basically retired and hands-off of even training Jason.

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