First Draft of “Batman Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth” film adaptation
Ok so I thought I might as well get the ball rolling with a little something I wrote for a college assignment in scriptwriting (durh).
I’m not happy with the out come because it was very rushed and took countless sleepless nights to write resulting in my eye going a bit funny but in the end, I handed it up as you see it here. I do plan to edit it and make it good once I’ve graduated but for now, without further ado, I present, my treatment for Batman Arkham Asylum.
Oh sorry a final note before you dive in, if you want to read the outline and character bios I wrote (another 9 A4 pages of bullshit), you can read them in this post here.
Ok so yeah, here you go, ta-da. (after the jump obviously)
The film begins in on April fools day 1901. Outside the sky is clear and a full moon can be seen A young Amadeus Arkham carries a breakfast tray up the intimidating staircase in his family home. On the tray he has some tea, a bowl of porridge and a rose in a vase. As he climbs the stairs he sees his reflection distorted in the mirrors that tower above him on the walls. Narrating this scene is the voice of a 20 something year old Arkham as he recites the event from his diary.
Young Arkham reaches the top of the stairs and slowly approaches the door at the end of the hall; a faint light can be seen under the crack. He reaches for the handle, pauses briefly and enters to see his mother sitting up in her bed clutching an empty jar. She is flanked either side by her two dogs lying on the floor who turn their heads as Amadeus enters. Behind her, the moonlight shines through a room high window with floor length maroon curtains to match her bed clothes. Amadeus pleads with her to eat but, after two muffled undecipherable mumbles she replies that she already has and to his horror a stream of half chewed beetles fall out of her mouth, some still alive and moving, others just unidentifiable mush. Arkham stands frozen in his spot, staring at his mother with horror in his eyes, as the tray slips from his fingers and slowly cascades to the ground. His eyes begin to well up, unsure how he should react. His mother slowly rises up until she is silhouetted against the moon light and, holding her hands up over her head in a defensive sort of position, casts a huge bat-like shadow over the entire room which. As we see her hands outlined by the moon, this world dissolves into present day Gotham City Skyline, where the bat-signal illuminates against the clouds.
We move in on an office in a sky scraper which is roughly about half way up to see commissioner Gordon pacing around the office while several other detectives work away on computers or flick through files. Gordon about turns to find batman standing right behind him. Batman apologies about being late and asks what has happened. Gordon directs him to his office as he explains how a riot broke out in Arkham that morning and the prisoners have taken the entire staff hostage. They have made a load of crazy demands asking for food, clothes, furniture, mannequins, and other random items and they have one final demand. To talk with batman. Gordon directs him to a telephone beside a calendar which shows us that the date once again is April first. The phone is on the hook and on the other end is the joker. Batmans facial features and tone of voice are cold and expressionless; he asks what the joker wants. The joker, in contrast, flamboyantly answers the phone referring to batman as darling and big boy etc. He explains that they, the inmates, want batman to come to Arkham where he belongs. Batman is pauses briefly then asks what will happen if he doesn’t. The joker introduces pearl to batman over the phone. Meanwhile a scratching noise can be heard faintly over the speaker. Jim looks to batman as if to see if batman recognises it. The joker describes how pearl wanted to go to art school and loves art. All the while the scratching noise grows louder and louder. Apparently, she loves art so much that she has just drawn him a lovely picture with the pencil he has just sharpened, at which point we see a look of horror, paralleling that of young Amadeus when his mother ate the beetles, spread across the faces of batman and Gordon. There is a loud scream as the joker seemingly forces the pencil into the young girls eye followed by maniacal laughter over the phone as the joker tells batman that he has half an hour to get to Arkham. Batman screams NO! As the joker hangs up laughing manically, a laugh which resonates around Gordon’s office while they contemplate what has just happened at the other end of the phone.
Batman states that he is going to the Asylum. He asks Gordon for a brief private chat with him so the pair head up to the roof top where the bat signal still shins its symbol of hope into the sky. Gordon tries to reason with batman saying he’ll send a swat team in to clean up the mess but batman refuses. He says it is something that he must do. However, at this point we also see batman admit to Jim that he is afraid that once he steps inside the asylum, he’ll feel like he has come home and not want to leave. Worry litters his face as we fade to the front gates of Arkham on a bright day in 1920.
We arrive just as Arkham is getting out of a taxi having just been to his mother’s funeral. Again this scene is over dubbed by narration from Arkham explaining how as the only child he inherited the house and the land upon which it was built. Arkham throws open the front doors into the old gothic mansion. Inside, dust is unsettled from the fresh breeze that has just rolled in throwing it up in the air in a haze of the sunlight creeping through the drawn curtains. As night falls, Arkham returns to his old room to try and sleep. His journal narration describes his plans to convert the house into an asylum for the mentally ill so that no one would have to suffer as his mother had. He lies in bed, utterly alone, flanked by high windows and unable to sleep. His narrative describes how he doesn’t get much sleep that night due to his dreams being plagued by a bat and the sound of its wings flapping.
The next day Arkham returns to Metropolis where his wife and daughter are living. In contrast to Gotham, Metropolis is a vibrantly bright city. Where people come and go as they please. Due to the time period, there are 20’s style cars driving about the streets. Arkham buys a newspaper of a corner boy and heads up the steps of the only grim looking building on the block. It is the state psychiatric hospital and looks as though it was taken from Gotham and placed in the middle of Metropolis. This is Arkhams place of work and today one of his patients has been sent to him from the Metropolis Penitentiary, Mad Dog Hawkins.
In a dimly lit, almost bare room, Arkham and Hawkins sit opposite one another, Arkham in a comfortable chair, Hawkins handcuffed to a steel chair. Arkhams diary narration describes the rough details of what they talked about; why Hawkins chose to kill the way he did, about how he was abused as a child and why he chose to cut himself to feel something. Arkham moves about for this whole conversation, resting on his arm, sitting up with arms folded across his chest, leaning forward taking notes in his notepad etc. Hawkins on the other hand, remains in the same position for the whole conversation; sitting upright with the faintest hint of a grin on his face. Eventually a guard comes in to take Hawkins away and Arkham feels pity for him. from his diary we here how Arkham believes Hawkins only real crime is mental illness and so he decides that he will convert his family home into a hospital for the criminally insane.
He returns to his brightly lit apartment, furnished in rich attire and warm colours. His daughter sits on the ground playing with her dolls and he is welcomed by his loving wife. We are told that he informs his family that they will be heading back to gotham to the family home to begin converting it into a hospital for the mentally ill and his wife affectionately shows her support for this plan.
Later that night we see Arkham lying in his bed, face illuminated by the moon shining through the curtains. We are told how he is dreaming that he is a child again. We see a young Arkham running through a hall of mirrors. The mirror images however are distorted and seem to be trying to escape as opposed to merely being reflections of the child. Lost in the maze of frightening images he eventually ends up in front of a curtain leading to the tunnel of love. This tunnel seems more like something out of a horror film, the curtain torn and stained and no light on the other side, only darkness. The young Arkham once again stops dead in his tracks; unable to proceed yet unable to turn away for fear whatever is on the other side of the curtain will get him. He waits for his father whose hand we eventually see rest on Arkhams shoulder. The young Arkham is then seen in his bed, tossing and turning as he dreams of the creatures in the mirrors escaping and coming for him.
Arkham awakes from his multiple layers of dreams and is back in his room in Metropolis covered in a thick sweat. The narration says, “I wake, sweating and adult. And for a moment, just a moment, I feel as though I’m back where I belong, back in the old house”. With this we fade back to the present and see the Asylum towering over the shadowy figure of batman. On the ground floor of the building we can see light flickering wildly through the ground floor windows as mad men run wild about the halls inside. Batman crouches to the ground and touches a white line that seems to encircle the entire building. Some of the grains stick to his glove and, as he brings it to his face to examine, we hear a familiar voice of screen proclaiming it to be salt. This is the first time we see the shocking image of the joker. His face, illuminated by the light from inside, is bone white and he is clad from head to toe in a dress straight out of the Lady Gaga catalogue. He welcomes batman with mock affection, arms thrown wide open ready for a loving embrace. Batman ignores the jokers theatricals and demands the hostages, who can be seen cowering behind the joker inside the asylums front door, be let go.
The joker mockingly bows gracefully as he steps aside to let the captive free and they all shuffle slowly out as if fearful that any sudden movements could cause the joker to change his mind. One of the kitchen staff passes close to the joker and he grabs her arm, twirls her in towards himself and embraces her in a tight hug. She has a look of fear in her eyes and batman steadies himself to help when the moment calls for it but the joker merely says goodbye to the girl calling her Pearl. “Oh it was so much fun hanging with you Pearly dear. We really must do it again sometime”, squeezes her tightly one last time and lets her go. Batman looks at her face and notices that her eyes are unharmed. He raises this with the joker who gleefully shouts “APRIL FOOLS” before prancing about like a fool, laughing manically. He begins to tell a joke as he directs batman towards the door of the asylum but batman tells him to shut up. He vigorously grabs batman on the ass saying lighten up causing batman to turn and bark at the joker a look of utter hatred in his face (clear even though the mask). The joker brushes past him playfully running his hand along batmans chest, reminding him that he is in the jokers world now and that he is no longer the one in charge. He approaches the too large oak doors that lead into the dining hall. We can see light through the cracks and the muffled sound of all the inmates throwing a big tea party. The joker throws open the doors and welcomes batman to “the Feast of Fools”.
Inside is a scene of pure chaos. The hall is filled with inmates running about screaming at each other, some fighting over plates of food, others bound in passion rolling amongst the litter that covers the floor. At the main table the mad hatter is feverishly pouring out cup after cup of tea and spilling most of the tea on the table itself. In a corner, a guard stands, frozen in terror, beside the mangled corpse of another guard. From the chandelier the body of a nurse hangs limply, blood dripping rhythmically onto an empty food platter below. Beside this we see Zsaz carving a fresh notch into his torso (one of a few new cuts indicating that he is the one responsible for the dead employees about the hall). At the back of the room black mask stands motionless watching the madness below.
Off to the right, Dr. Cavendish and Dr. Quinlan watch over the proceeds from the safety of a raised platform where the guards would usually watch over the dining hall during meal times. Cavendish is seated in a chair and has had his face painted in clown makeup and hosed down by the inmates while Quinlan stands to the left of his chair smoking a cigarette, looking up to see the new comer. Joker and batman turn to them when Cavendish stands up to gives out to the joker saying he’s had enough madness. The joker puts him in his place however reminding him of his dirty little secret and Cavendish sits back down again quietly. When batman asks who these people are, Dr. Quinlan explains that they chose to stay out of duty. The joker then makes a remark about duty and how “someone seems to have done theirs on the floor”. We then see two-face for the first time. He is pale and weak looking with a confused and ashamed look on his face. He is flustering with a selection of tarot cards with the others currently part of a card tower on the table in front of him which is in the latter stages of construction. The joker bends over the banister and mocks him, drawing batmans attention to him.
As two face picks up the fallen cards we hear batman ask Quinlan what has happened to two-face. She explains that they have successfully dealt with ‘Harveys’ obsession with duality, weaning him off his coin and onto a deck of tarot cards giving him 78 options to choose from. Batman points out that the treatment seems to have had a reverse effect breaking his personality rather than heal it but Quinlan insists that it is all part of the progress. Batman remarks that he finds it hard to believe anyone could be healed in “this place” nodding at what we can assume is the chaotic madness that still pans out in the main hall. Quinlan defends the asylum and its work saying that they have made progress with quite a few patients. Batman then remarks that the joker (who at this point seems to have run off to join the fun in the halls or to cause mischief elsewhere) seems to be still as mad as ever. At this, Quinlan puts out the remainder of her cigarette and bends to pick up a scattering of large cards that cover the floor near the table; a folder hanging on the edge of the table indicates that they fell from it as someone walked past. She begins to explain the situation with the joker and how he has a sort of super-sanity and creates himself every day.
As she stands up and turns to batman we can see the joker appear from behind her. Batman can clearly see him too but chooses not to warn the doctor. When she is mid sentence, the joker puts his arm around her and grabs one of the cards from her hand. She is startled and almost drops the other cards. We see that the card the joker is holding is a Rorschach inkblot image and the joker lists of random images that he claims to see in the blot and then turns it to batman giving us a full proper view of the blot. He asks batman what he sees and we see a flash as a bat bursts through a window showering glass all over us. It is the embodiment of the fear that encapsulates the asylum and the reason behind batman coming to be. Batman is unmoved and says he sees nothing, disregarding the terrifying visual spectacle we just witnessed.
The joker begins to offer suggestions as to what batman might see but some of the other inmates who have begun to take notice of batmans presence properly give out to joker for wasting time. Zsasz suggests they cut him up while black mask says he wants to see batmans “real face”. The joker laughs these suggestions off as foolish and unimaginative saying he wants to go deeper into the psyche of batman and pry through all the dirty little corners of his mind. Joker is at this stage looking extremely menacing, his eyes wild with delight at the thought of picking apart his old nemesis.
He tells Quinlan to do a word association test and even though she is reluctant at first, batman assures her as he takes a seat at a table that he has no problem taking it. The doctor takes her position at the other side of the table while the joker leans in over the middle of the table like a referee gleefully anticipating the forthcoming games.
Back to 1920 again. It is daytime and Arkham is out in the grounds of the manor shielding his eyes against the sun as he watches in awe at the construction going on. His narration describes the rise of St. Michael as he overcomes Satan and banishes him to hell. Arkham makes parallels to this and how he plans to use the house to do his will in healing those incarcerated of their demons. We then see that the thing which he is looking at that is casting a winged shadow over him is in fact a statue of this victory of Michael over Satan who appears here in the form of a long serpentine dragon being held down by Michaels foot and a large metal spear that glints in the sunlight.
Later we are inside the house and Arkham has just put his daughter to bed after reading Alice in wonderland to her. He stands up, accidentally stepping on a drawing she did. He bends down and gathers up the sheets of paper and crayons of the floor. On the sheets we see images from her nightmares of two headed dogs and men with dog heads and other obscure creatures which Arkham attributes to her obsession with Lewis Carroll. As he goes to leave the room he notices a playing card half hidden under the rug on Harriet’s bedroom floor. He picks it up and examines it to find that it’s a joker card. He is unsure why it causes him unrest or how exactly it got there but he tries convincing himself that it must have been one of the construction workers who dropped it. We fade to black.
Quinlan lights up a cigarette and begins the word association test. All we can see is the two of them under a dimly lit spotlight. She starts off with the word mother. Batman looks slightly uneasy but replies with pearl. He is trying to dance around the topic of his parents’ death but is finding it hard to focus on anything else now that he has been reminded f it. Quinlan notices his unease and tries to give batman a way out. “Handle”. Batman however digs himself deeper into trouble by saying revolver. His mind is clearly on that night and it is cracking him. Quinlan notices the troubled look in batman but lets her curiosity get the better of her and continues with the test. “Gun”. At this point batman cracks completely saying father. His face is tense and he is clearly completely lost in the memory of their death. Quinlan, taken aback by this answer, says father more like a question without thinking about what she says before it’s too late. Batman responds “death”. At this point the bat is broken. His shoulders slum and he sits back in his chair. Quinlan quickly finishes the test by saying end to which batman replies timidly “stop”. We see the dark knight completely fragile and broken sitting in solitude as he repeats “stop”. Over this we hear the maniacal laughter of the joker as he pleasures in the ease at which batman succumbed to the test.
We return to 1920, this time it is fall and we see a montage of Arkham as he travels to Europe to meet with the great psychologist Carl Jung and the famous English occultist, Aleister Crowley. He writes in his diary how he meets Jung in Switzerland and Crowley in England where he is beaten twice in chess as they discuss symbolism and the Egyptian tarot. The montage ends when he arrives home for Christmas. His home is decked out in decorations; a tree lit with brightly coloured lights stands in the corner near his aquarium. He is surprised by his wife with the addition of two clown fish to his aquarium. He discusses in his diary the habits of clown fish and how they change sex when the dominant female dies so that one of the males takes her place. He is reminded of the French term Poisson D’Avril which refers to a sufferer of an April fools prank when the phone rings. It is an old fashioned phone suited to the time period. He answers to be informed that Mad Dog Hawkins had escaped from prison and was at large and they wanted his opinion as to his state of mind. Arkham tells them that Mad Dog is highly dangerous and leaves them to it. It’s not his problem he writes. Behind him we can see his wife look at her husband quizzically. She asks if there is anything wrong but he says no. he takes her in his arms and holds her tenderly, one arm on her shoulder the other around her waist cradling the child in her womb. The two of them watch over Harriet as she unwraps her presents. The first gift is a cuckoo clock which her father got her from Switzerland. Harriet turns to her parents smiling with joy. She is enchanted by the clock which her father wrote in his diary that he hopes will help ease her nightmares. We see that on the clock the time is 9:30.
The warmth of the fire dies and we are returned to the cold dinner hall of the present where the clock also shows the time 9:30. The joker looks at the clock and proclaims that it is time to begin the evening’s entertainment. Batman, now wrapping himself in his cape in a protective way although he is trying to pretend that everything up to that point didn’t happen, asks what he means by entertainment. Joker, walks slowly around batman explaining how he is going to play a game of hide and seek where batman gets one hour to run before all the inmates are set loose. Batman refuses, snarling his lips in disgust at the joker for even considering that batman would agree to take part. Calmly the joker walks over to a table where a gun rests. He picks it up as he begins to tell a story about a man whose wife goes into labour and has their child in the hospital. The man goes in to see them and the doctor tells him they’re both fine. The joker slowly makes his way over to the guard who is still sobbing quietly to himself unaware of anything else that is going on in the hall. The joker’s story continues with the man bursting into the room to find it empty (at this point the joker has reached the guard and has the gun to his head. The guard is to distraught by the events of the night to give the gun pressed into his head any attention). He turns to see all the nurses and doctors laughing at him with his wife’s doctor screaming “APRIL FOOL! Your wife’s dead and the kids a spastic. Joker screams the last line as he fires the gun blowing the guards brains out all over the table top. The guard’s body falls limp as joker asks the dead man “get it?” in mock despair he puts his hand to his head and sighs at the loss. While walking towards batman. He reaches a shell shocked Dr. Quinlan and holds the still smoking barrel of the gun to her head. His eyes wild from the thrill at having just murdered someone. He stares at batman and tells him again to run. Batman hesitates, looking at Quinlan briefly, then, glaring at joker with a stare that says I’m going to be back and you will pay for what you have done, batman turns and runs into the dark halls of the asylum blocking the hall from view.
His cape sweeps out of view and we see a cinema theatre where a young Bruce Wayne is being given out to by his parents for crying during the film Bambi when Bambi’s mother dies. These flash back scenes of batman’s are in greyscale as it is a bleak time in his life. We flash forward to the present where batman is struggling not to think about his past memories that have been reanimated by the blot test. The young Bruce is being given out to by his father whose face is undistinguishable and distorted. Batman catches a glimpse of his own face in a mirror and it matches the face young Bruce sees on his father. His father is telling him he will leave him on his own if he doesn’t grow up and stop crying. Batman smashes the mirror as if it will prevent the vision from continuing but we then see a young Bruce running through the streets playing with a stick followed by his parents when the man who shoots his father steps out. Batman grabs at the glass on the ground gripping it tight into his palm to try and ease the pain of the memory by introducing a new pain for his body to focus on. The gun man fires his weapon and Bruce’s father falls to the ground. His mother shoves Bruce behind her in order to protect him and the gun man grabs at her pearl necklace. Batman’s hand tightens as blood starts to seep through his fingers. The gun man fires again and Bruce’s mother falls in slow motion. Blood dripping from batmans hand splashes onto the cold dark floors of the Arkham hallways. We hear young Bruce utter the word “mommy?” in a sort of dazed confusion after what has just happened as batman stumbles onward through the halls.
“Mother! Oh God, Mother!” we’ve returned to the dining hall where in the corner of the room some of the inmates is engrossed in the television which is showing the Alfred Hitchcock film, Psycho. The main party has died down and most of the inmates at this stage are sitting around quietly keeping to themselves or picking at the remains of the party for any leftover scraps of food. Up on the raised platform the joker sits patiently in an arm chair that is completely out of place and was most likely one of the items brought in when they were making their demands. His legs are folded and his elbows rest on his knees hands held up to his face. Behind him black mask paces about impatiently. He asks why they have to wait and the joker brushes him off saying it’s only fair to give him a sporting chance. In the far background Dr. Cavendish is seen sneaking of with Dr. Quinlan most likely convincing her that it’s their best chance to escape while they still can.
Dr. Milo is trying to have a conversation with two-face. He, however is more interested in the moon which he compares to a giant coin that has been flipped scarred side up by god. We can see tears seeping from his eye on the scarred side of his face as he finishes “ and so god made the world” (when two-face flipped his coin scar side up it usually meant he chose to do the evil option so he is saying that gods decision to make the world was a bad choice). Milo, fed up of trying to have a proper conversation storms off proclaiming them all to be mad. The mad hatter, a small man even when standing beside a seated joker, asks childishly for the joker to let them chase batman. The joker glances at the clock which we see reads 9:45. The joker turns and with a grin says “ oh alright then, let’s just pretend it’s been an hour”
We’re back in Arkhams time. In his diary we are informed that it is 1921 and that it is April 1st. Arkham approaches the now near complete manor and notices the door to be ajar. The house is unnaturally quiet. There is a chill in the air due to the cold weather but also because of the unease of the silence. Arkham climbs the stairs and calls out for his wife. When he reaches the top of the stairs his attention turns to the door of the nursery. He is unsure why but it seems to have an unnerving atmosphere about it. Arkham approaches slowly. From inside we see the door swing open splashing light on the carnage inside which was initially just dark shapes. Around the room everything seems to be covered in blood splatters, the rocking horse lies smashed on its side, teddy bear stuffing scattered about the room, books torn from shelves etc.
On the bed lies the naked body of his wife, her back carved up and bloody, while we can also see a pool of blood on the floor under her head which hangs limply over the end of the bed. Arkhams face is completely pale and void of expression. Thankfully we cannot see the full extent of the damage that has been done to her body as Arkhams attention is drawn to his daughter’s body which also lies lifeless on the floor beside the doll house. On the wall the cuckoo clock begins to whir; it is preparing to chime. Underneath the clock we can see the words MAD DOG scrawled in blood over and over. As Arkham looks around for his daughters head, which we notice has been severed, we can tell that he is being pushed to the edge of sanity. And as the cuckoo chimes for 10 o’clock his eyes meet hers staring at him from the doll house. At this point, his eyes open wide with horror and his jaw dropped, we can tell something inside him snaps.
Arkham slowly pulls on his mothers wedding dress and kneels down in the nursery. It is a vision of a man who is now completely broken. He sits in contemplation at what has happened for what seems like an eternity. The dress is soaking in blood. He is alone amongst the carnage that was his family and his nursery. We then see him in the bathroom retching into the toilet. Sitting up again to wipe the vomit from his beard, we see his face is speckled in the blood of his family. What lead to this blood getting there we do not know but it stains his beard amongst the vomit. He begins to question his own existence, stating in his diary how he is afraid and thinks he might be ill.
We jump forward in time again to the asylum and where we see the rotting diseased hand of clayface slowly dragging its way along the walls of a cell. The paint on the wall melts where his hand has touched it leaving a trail of bubbling paint slowly dripping down the wall behind him. Clayface is stating how he is sick repeatedly and, as the scene moves on, we see that the small fragile frame of clayface is cornering batman, trying to get close enough to touch him. Batman is drawing back into the corner trying to avoid contact with the walking plague. Clayface reaches out a hand to batman who has no choice now but to kick clayface out of his way. He delivers a kick to his stomach and where batmans boot makes contact with clayface, there is a hiss as the sole of the boot melts slightly. Clayface lies winded against the wall, helpless and groaning in agony. Batman would normally leave at this point. However the house is having its effect on batman. He has become a merciless monster and seizing the opportunity to cripple his foe, he stomps on clayfaces legs which were at an angle to the wall to prop him up. Clayface’s legs break with a loud cracking sound and batman runs off back out to the halls, leaving clayface to writhe in pain in the cold damp cell. Even though batman is supposed to be the hero of the story, we feel more sympathy towards clayface here and see batman as a sort of merciless antagonist for a moment.
Outside in the halls batman is silently moving, about to try and avoid drawing attention to himself. We hear a loud scraping sound as something sharp and metallic is dragged along the ground. Peering around a corner batman sees the Scarecrow lumbering slowly through the halls dragging his pitchfork along behind him, throwing up sparks where the metal meets the stone floor. Scarecrow turns in batmans direction suddenly and slowly makes his way towards the corner where batman had stood. He examines the spot for a moment, looks around, then carries on along the halls. As he passes a door we can see batmans figure lit by a thin sliver of light. Batman moves back farther into the room. The floor and walls seem to be covered in grooves so batman reaches up and flicks the light switch. We see that the entire floor and walls are covered in words carved into the stone. Batman is awestricken.
Back out in the corridor batman emerges from the cell and moves on. He hears the sound of swift footsteps and lunges back into the room to narrowly avoid a run in with Black Mask, who comes round the corner holding a heavy blunt object for if he finds batman. Inside the room again batman looks around and notices that it is a different room from when he was there last. He appears to be in a hall of mirrors reflecting back at him an unending hallway with infinitely repeated reflections of himself. He slowly approaches the door directly opposite the one through which he came into the hall and cautiously opens it. Quietly from behind the door we can here the mad hatter quoting lines from Lewis Carroll.
As the door opens we are greeted with a waterfall of smoke pouring out from inside. The room is a glorious spectacle of random objects. The floor is chequered like a giant chess board with huge dark red and off white chess pieces scattered around the room. A cracked red knight lies on the floor in front of a large tasselled cushion upon which the mad hatter sits smoking a hookah pipe drawing from Alice in Wonderland and the scene of the caterpillar sitting on a giant mushroom smoking. To the left in the shadows we can see the red rook piece, representing the tower card of the tarot. Scattered over and around the chess pieces are a variety of brightly coloured blankets and cushions and other trinkets including dolls and stuffed animals. Batman enters the room cautiously and keeping his distance from the mad hatter.
The mad hatter looks up at batman from his pipe with druggy eyes. The hatter says to batman that he has something to tell him as he takes another drag from the hookah. Batman, unsure how to react to one of his foes not acting violently towards him, merely stands inside the door with his cape wrapped around him. The hatter goes off on a rant of how the disorder of the universe is merely a higher order that we humans cannot understand and then, picking up a doll that is dressed like Alice, he delves into trying to explain his fascination with children. He begins to cry and stares at batman with his wide drugged up eyes and brings up the theory that the asylum is all inside a head. In the background over his shoulder we can see the red king who (from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, is the character inside whose head the entire events of the story are dreamt), as the mad hatter delves into the possibility that the entire events of the asylum are all inside batmans head. Batman dislikes this idea and begins to approach the hatter but as he does, the hatter and all the contents of the room begin to dissolve. We can hear still hear the hatter saying that Arkham is like a looking glass and everyone in it is batman as batman comes face to face with his own reflection. He pushes the mirror and finds himself back out in the corridor from where he originally came. The hatter was merely a holographic image made real by the trick of smoke and mirrors. In the hall batman stands perplexed and confused as he takes in what the hatter had said.
Back in 1921, it is the middle of winter and the asylum is now complete and open for business. With its fresh complete look there is a sort of brightness to the building that we haven’t seen before. Nurses and doctors walk the halls pushing patients in wheelchairs, checking files and taking phone calls at the front desk. We see two guards checking a new patient in, from what we can see, it looks like Mad Dog Hawkins. In a sunlit room with a view of the statue of Michael through the blinded window, Arkham sits at his desk across from a handcuffed Hawkins. His diary entries describe how people praised his braveness for facing the killer of his family and listens to him recount every detail of how he abused and killed them. We see a montage of the meetings between the two leading up to the night of April 1st 1921, a year to the day of the death of Arkhams family. Even though the days are technically getting longer and brighter, these montage scenes should be gradually getting grimmer as Arkhams spite and desire for vengeance stews inside of him just under the surface of his calm and collected self presentation. On the 1st of April we watch as Arkham straps Hawkins into the ECT treatment table. He starts of low before eventually cranking the voltage up to full and we watch in horror as Hawkins body begins to spasm and smoke as he is fried alive. Two nurses run into the room to try and help him as Arkham watches on, his face completely expressionless. He has no remorse for what he has done.
We see Arkham as he walks the halls of his asylum alone at night while his diary explains how the death is regarded as a freak accident, that there was nothing anyone could do to prevent it. He then describes how he had taken to routinely patrolling the corridors and also stopping by a secret room to fill in his diary (this room being his mother’s bedroom that had been covered up in order to preserve it as a shrine to her memory). He also writes how he sometimes hears laughter from a cell he knows to be empty. We watch as he moves into his study and approaches his mirror. He calmly tapes over the mirror as if it is a perfectly normal thing to do. In his diary he writes how this stops the laughter.
We follow Arkham as he continues his ritualistic patrolling of the asylum, leading us past rows of doors before he turns a corner and we are left in front of a room flanked either side by columns that have been brought in from somewhere else. We are back in the present and the room, which seems to emit a bright blue light, is the ECT room. On the columns is some Greek lettering and as we pass through the doors we can see someone strapped into the table while Maxi Zeus stands over him controlling the machinery. He himself has butchered some wires from the machine hooking them directly into his skin. The wounds where the wires enter him have been seared over, burnt closed by the heat of the electricity. Zeus turns toward the entrance and sees batman looking in. He addresses batman as a pilgrim come to learn from his god (Zeus). Zeuses madness is so great that he believes himself to be the Greek god of lightning. The guard in the ECT bed, weakly begs for more electricity. Zeus welcomes his new pilgrim into the room claiming to have a gift for the world. He directs batmans attention to an oak barrel in the corner that seems to be attracting the attention of numerous flies. Zeus claims the barrel to contain all of his power hinting that it is full of his excrement. He takes the lid off the barrel and flies swarm up out of it agitated by their disturbance. As Zeus offers the contents to batman, batman turns on his heels and walks away disgusted at what he has witnessed.
Back in Arkhams study, we see as he takes three amanita mushrooms and begins to cut them up. A fire crackles in the fireplace beside his chair and across from his chair the aquarium sits with fish swimming about inside. He sits down with the mushrooms in his hand and looks at the fish contemplating whether they understand the breakdown he has been suffering. He takes the mushrooms and relaxes into his chair. Later Arkham throws a fresh log onto the fire, indicating that time has passed since the taking of the mushrooms. He writes in his diary how the mushrooms haven’t taken effect yet but that he is feeling a pressure in the abck of his head as if the house is trying to communicate with him. He turns around and moves over to the fish tank and watches as the two clownfish swim from opposite ends of the tank towards each other, eventually forming the zodiac sign of Pisces, behind them a dark castle is visible representing the tower yet again. In his diary Arkham recount this and the revelation this brings about in him.
For the following conflict, Arkham tells of how he must follow a path to overcome his inner demons and face them. He struggles through the effects of the drugs and peels away the tape from the mirror to face himself once again. This narration parallels the struggle batman faces next.
After we see Arkham looking into the aquarium we are transported back to the present where batman walks the halls of the asylum again. He stops when he comes across a trail of blood that seems to cut off on the floor at the wall. As he examines the wall for a crack or opening we can see croc approach from behind. Batman turns to face his foe just in time to receive a blow to the stomach sending him flying across the hall. Batman is clearly fighting a losing battle here as he struggles against the hulking reptilian looking Killer Croc who delivers rib cracking blows to a mentally weakened batman. At the crescendo of Arkhams diary narrative, batman is flung out a window, paralleling Arkhams description of his world shattering around him. Outside batman lands on a flat roof and rolls towards the edge where he falls but manages to grab hold of a gargoyle head. The glass rains down around him as he clings for his life. Dragging himself up onto the flat roof batman glances up to catch sight of the statue of Michael triumphant over the serpent as a flash of lightning cracks across the sky behind the statue. Batman grabs hold of the now rusted spear and taking out his grappling gun, disappears from sight. In the halls croc slouches through the hallway. We catch a glint in his eye and as he looks up batman freefalls through the glass roof spear cast out in front of him. Batman lands on crocs back and tries strangling him with the spear but croc once again proves too strong and flings him like a rag doll against the wall. Batman drops the spear on the ground beside him. As croc approaches batman, moving in for the kill, batman positions himself so that the moment croc lunges, he thrusts the spear into crocs body. The force of croc falling on him pushes batman back. He tries supporting the spear but the weight causes the rusted end to pierce his side. Batman screams out in pain but pushes through trying to force croc off him. Croc grabs hold of the spear and starts to swing batman around, the two linked by the rusted metal rod both trying to keep control of the movement. Eventually, with one last burst of energy, batman pushes through the searing pain and jerks the opposite direction of croc. The constant strain on the rusted metal has weakened it and this last jerk causes the spear to split in the middle. The force caused by their spinning sends croc falling backwards and crashing through the window as batman is flung backwards into the wall. Croc freefalls in slow-motion as the glass creates a sort of halo around his large, deformed head. Batman winces in pain as he rips the rusted metal from his side. He stumbles back down the hall towards the wall where the blood disappeared into it, his own blood spilling through his hand clasped to his side, and with a valiant surge of energy batman kicks through the fake wall showering everything in dust and splinters of century old wood. As the dust settles batmans frame fills the now empty doorframe. Inside Dr. Cavendish sits on the bed, dressed in Amadeus Arkhams mothers wedding dress, holding a pearl handled razor to Dr. Quinlan’s throat. We have found the secret room and it is exactly as it was at the start of the film, down to the sheets on the bed and the curtains on the wall.
Cavendish invites batman in and Quinlan warns him that he has already cut her and not to come any nearer. Batman realises that it was Cavendish who set the prisoners loose and confronts him about this. Cavendish directs him to the journal on the desk that has a page marked in it for batman to read from. We turn back to the bed to see Arkhams mother sitting up pulling her sheets up around her to protect against the creature. The diary, this time narrated by batman as he reads it in the present day describes how Arkham is questioning why he has come back to his family home that night. It is 1920 and he is sitting in a chair beside his mothers bed trying to comfort her while her two dogs sit either side of the bed. She suddenly sits upright and points at the wall screaming “it’s here! It’s here!” the curtains billow in the wind and papers fly off the desk as a supernatural gust passes through the room and as Arkham follows his mothers gaze his expression turns from pity for his mother to shock and fear as he too realises the presence of the shadow of the bat. Everything slows down in the room. His mother, the papers, the dogs that have risen up onto their front legs and are howling. His mother screams for release from the fear of the beast and Arkham, as if moving through a dream like state, reaches for his pearl handled razor and, pausing for a moment with everything else in the room, he whispers “I love you” to her before bringing the blade swiftly across her throat. His mother collapses in his arms as blood spurts from her neck. He lays her down in her bed and we notice the room is back to normal as if nothing has been disturbed, save for the splattering of blood that now covers the bed.
Arkham leaves the room wearing his mothers dress, a faint spray of blood visible on his face, the razor in his hand and the two dogs either side of him. He approaches from the hall as batman reads the diary entry where Arkham claims he will contain the presences. The look in Arkhams eye as he draws up is that of pure confident insanity. Back in the room Cavendish, still holding the razor to Quinlan tells batman that he is the bat and that it is his duty to bind batman to the house so that he can release the inmates of their illness. He tells of how Arkham tried to kill his stock broker in 1929 leading to his incarceration but that he continued to try binding the bat by carving a magic spell into the floor of his cell with his fingernails till the day he died. We see an old Arkham in the centre of a huge ring of words that have been carved into the ground as he finishes the last of the carvings, fresh blood filling the last few symbols as it seeps from his damaged fingertips. With his last breath he sighs the word “finished and collapses on the cell floor. A nurse rushes in calling for his doctor and asking who him for his name but Arkham doesn’t care anymore. He has finished what he set out to do. On his weak pale face we see the cracks of a smile break across his face.
Cavendish explains how, even after all his hard work, he believed that Amadeus Arkham had been unsuccessful. After finding the hidden room and the journal two years prior, Cavendish made it his personal goal to finish what Arkham had started and to trap the bat. Quinlan tries to grab the razor that he is waving around wildly as he tells the story but Cavendish casts her aside onto the bed. He is about to strike her with the razor when batman tells him that he (Cavendish) is sick and needs help. This enrages Cavendish who slashes batman across the chest with the blade. Batman knocks the blade out of his hand but due to the extent of his injuries, is easily overpowered by Cavendish who begins to strangle him. Quinlan watches on in horror as the symbol of hope is choked. Batman calls out to her to do something snapping her out of her trance. Without thinking she grabs the blade and, pulling back his head, drags it across Cavendish’s neck. She drops the blade as batman rises from beneath the body of the deceased. They lay him out on the bed and batman, has a new found strength. He goes with Quinlan down a secret passage that was the one Cavendish used to get to the room in the first place and, in the passage he demands the two-faces coin from her. Batman tells her that he has to go back and show them that he is stronger than them and the asylum; that in order to break free he must go face to face with his enemies. Quinlan gives him the coin and batman runs of down the passage leaving her on her own.
The next sequence of events happens very quick paced. Batman grabs a fire axe from a rack, and starts to smash through doors and windows, searching for his foes in a wild frenzied craze. One of the inmates sees him and runs back to the joker yelling warning of what’s happening. Black mask turns to joker and gives out to him saying batman is too dangerous to let in while the joker stares on in joyous anticipation of the uncertainty of what will happen when batman finally arrives. The hall is almost empty at this stage save for the joker (now wearing a purple overcoat on top of his dress), two-face, black mask and a few random inmates who, with the announcement that batman is coming have begun to slink away to the back of the hall, as far away from the joker as possible.
Finally, the axe comes crashing through the door and batman flings it down at the joker’s feet. The two look at each other, as does everyone else in the room. Batman proclaims their freedom to which the joker laughs cynically. He says that they knew of that but the real question is was batman free of Arkham? “Have you come for your kingly robes? Or do you want us to put you out of your misery like the poor sick little creature you are?” batman tells the joker to let two-face decide. At the mention of his name two-face looks up confused. He tries to refuse but the joker seems to love the idea. At this batman tosses the scarred coin at two-face. Catching it two-face pauses for a moment before deciding that if it comes up unmarked side up, batman would go free, scar side resulting in batmans death at the hands of his enemies. Then he flicks the coin in the air. Spinning through the air in slow motion, the coin shines in the light of the moon shining through the window. Lightning strikes as the coin reaches its peak. Finally the coin lands in his hand again. Harvey looks down, the coin hidden from everyone else’s view. “He goes free”. The joker walks with batman to the door as is showing a guest out of his home. Outside, a swat team moves in to take over the asylum after batman has left. Then we see two-face’s hand open to reveal the scarred side of the coin. Two-face made a decision to go against the coin showing that he has possibly been reformed. He turns to the house of cards and knocks them over saying a quote from Alice in wonderland and as the cards fall the last thing we see is the moon card that mirrors the opening scene of the moon over the house.
Wow you made it this far? You are dedicated I must say. Please be gentle when criticizing my work, I’m only human after all.
Oh and Copyright disclaimer, all Characters and locations described in this work are the property of DC comics and the respective people who contributed to this story such as the great Grant Morrison and the artistic genius Dave McKean.
This was merely written as my awful attempt to pay homage to one of the greatest graphic novels out there. So yeah, no suing please :).
Oh and finally, thanks for reading.
Posted on 27/01/2011, in scripts. and tagged A Serious House on Serious Earth, All the other mad men in arkham, Arkham Asylum, Batman, character bios etc, feature film treatement, Joker, Killer Croc, Mad Hatter. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.