I watched the original Michael Keaton/Tim Burton Batman last night. Despite how long ago it was made, I think it still holds up fairly well. As I was watching it, I was struck by the untimely demise of an undervalued character in the movie. But, I thought to myself, what if he didn’t die? What if we just thought he did? What might have happened next for him if he were to survive his near death experience?
He woke up in a hospital bed. Tubes were sticking out of him. His heart monitor was beeping steadily. He went to remove some of the things that were either in or on him, but found that he couldn’t. Handcuffs kept his hands from being able to move far enough to get the job done.
Handcuffs? Why was he in handcuffs? His thoughts were going a mile a minute as he tried to remember what had happened. It didn’t come to him quickly. He lay in that bed for a few days until it all came back to him.
He’d been in a parade. His boss had to stop the parade early because of a troublemaker. The boss asked for a gun. When he’d obliged, the boss had shot him. Shot him for nothing. He had done everything that had ever been asked of him, including things that hadn’t been asked. He’d protected his boss. He’d followed people and photographed them for his boss.
With all of that, he’d still been shot over something another person had done. It wasn’t his fault that Batman had shown up. It wasn’t his fault that Batman had stolen the balloons his boss was using to poison the crowd. It wasn’t his fault that, once again, his boss’ plan had failed.
He had given everything to his boss. His loyalty. His trust. And it was all for nothing. Not only was it not appreciated, it was thrown away like it was nothing. He’d been shot and tossed aside like a piece of garbage. Only sheer luck had allowed him to survive. He heard the doctors talk about how it was a miracle that he was still alive.
While he was waiting for his memory to come back, he was able to glean what had happened after he was shot. One of the cops that checked in on him had left an old newspaper near his bed. He couldn’t reach it, but he was able to read the headline: JOKER KILLED IN FIGHT WITH BATMAN ON TOP OF GOTHAM CATHEDRAL.
He should have felt relief. The person who had hurt him the most was no more. The Joker couldn’t hurt him anymore. That wasn’t enough for him, though. He wanted to be the one to end Joker’s life. He wanted to feel the life leave the Joker’s body as he squeezed his throat and cut off his air supply. He wanted to pistol whip the stupid grin on the Joker’s face until it was nothing more than a pile of teeth and blood.
That would never happen now. Batman had taken that away from him and, if it was the last thing he’d ever do, he’d make sure that Batman paid for that.
It wouldn’t be now, though. It wouldn’t even be anytime soon. First, he had to recover. Then, he needed to learn how to fight. He wasn’t deluded enough to think that he was a match for Batman. The last time the two had fought, he’d turned and ran despite having a knife against the unarmed Batman. It was the smart thing to do. Now the smart thing to do was to fall back and regroup before he went after Batman.
He couldn’t do that in police custody, however. His body wasn’t in any condition to mount an escape attempt at the moment. He’d have to bide his time and be ready when the opportunity presented itself. He also needed to come up with a name for himself before he attacked Batman. After all, he wouldn’t command much respect attacking the Batman with his real name. Nobody was ever intimidated by a guy named Bob.