Where Could The Dark Knight Go Next - Contest Winners!
by Alex Billington
July 29, 2008
Last weekend after The Dark Knight hit theaters worldwide, we decided to host a contest to see who could write the best story for a third film in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. The challenge was to write a story that would top everything that took place in The Dark Knight. We received over 200+ entries in a few days and have finally chosen the winner of an awesome Dark Knight prize pack. All story submissions were required to be around 500 words and were judged by our resident comic guru and Batman fan Roman Chavez and contributing writer Andy Adair. Not only can you find the winner's story published below, but we've included four runner-up stories as well, just because they were all so damn good. Read on to check out a few of the stories and be sure to comment with your own thoughts on our winners.
First off, thank you to all of the entrants who submitted a story. It was a challenge reading through all of these in the midst of Comic-Con, but we enjoyed hearing some great ideas. Obviously choosing the winner was an arduous task. Many of the stories were quite similar, so it was hard at times to differentiate one from another. As we began to weed through entries, we also began to look at writing style and structure in addition to just the story. We really feel that these winners listed below are the best of the best and while a few of you may be upset, keep in mind that this was our own choice! We chose winners that would fit in Christopher Nolan's universe and made sense above all. With that in mind, we present to you our Where Could The Dark Knight Go Next? winners and four runner-ups (in no particular order)!
Grand Prize: Nicholas M.
Following the events of The Dark Knight, Gotham City still bears the crimson scars of the Joker's twisted rampage. Damaged infrastructures need to be rebuilt, civic pride is at an all-time low, and citizens are now scared to walk even the busiest streets, for fear of the wanted vigilante known… as the Batman. The average citizen believes their former symbol of justice is now wanted for the deaths of five people, including police officers. Led by the tenacious Commissioner James Gordon, the police have orders to arrest the Caped Crusader on-sight for his crimes. Batman's difficult mission has now become an impossible catch-22, for how does a man protect those who fear him?
Bruce Wayne is a drained man. Barely struggling to hide the results of his nightly war on those who would strike fear into the innocent, the billionaire decides to focus more of his attention on his family's company. And it has been garnering the eyes of the business world, as company inventor and board member Lucius Fox has just completed the prototype for an encryption device capable of repelling any electronic security threat known to man. His timing couldn't be more perfect, as the traveling exhibit for the Rand Diamond has just made its way to Gotham City - and it has been chosen to be the encryption device's first public test.
Meanwhile, after the death of their chieftains, the families and gangs of Gotham City are hammered to near-submission. In spite of his sudden and unexpected passing, the landmark prosecution brought by former District Attorney Harvey Dent has resulted in half the city's known mafiosos taking an extended vacation to the slammer. Even the mob's rogue officers inside the Gotham Police Department have run for cover. With organized crime structurally in shambles and paralyzed by fear, it's only a matter of time before a new heir ascends to the throne, atop the pile of their defeated colleagues in crime. That time is now…
Though the Joker safely resides in the maximum-security ward of Arkham Asylum, the chaos he brought will not soon be forgotten. However, a puzzling new threat observes the proceedings from a distance, methodically planning his criminal debut to the world. Motivated by obtaining the Rand Diamond and displaying his sinister intelligence to the city, a man enveloped in questions stands ready to strike. Wayne Enterprises attorney Coleman Reese nearly revealed to all that billionaire Bruce Wayne is in fact Batman. However, that isn't the only question the devious Mr. Reese ("mysteries") is prepared to pose to the public:
"What is black and once loved by all, should be prepared to meet his fall?
He who had crime on the run, has now become public enemy number one.
True, he put the clown back in his box, but how will he fare with paradox?
His secret is mine - he cannot free…his mind from unceasing duality.
The Bat should fly into the sky, where me he meets, prepared to die!"
Enter the Riddler!
Runner-Up: John P.
With Batman on the run, Sal Maroni and his men no longer live in fear of the Dark Knight. Gotham is more dangerous than ever and Bruce Wayne is torn between being himself and taking control as the hero that Gotham deserves. When Lucius Fox discovers that a Wayne business executive known as Roman Sionis (a childhood acquaintance of Bruce Wayne) is involved in less than admirable activities, Bruce fires him and tells him to never step foot in Wayne Enterprises again. Eventually, Roman loses everything (including his girlfriend) and is forced to move in with his parents at the city limits. He blames Bruce Wayne for this and becomes obsessed with him, constantly thinking up ways to sabotage Bruce Wayne. His parents notice the change in him and become worried. They tell him that they won't support him any longer unless he stops obsessing about Bruce and straightens his life out. One night, as he is frantically writing notes trying to find a way to get his revenge on Bruce Wayne, he knocks a candle over and his desk goes up in flames. Rather than putting the fire out, he stares into it menacingly and leaves the home burning with his parents inside. As the house burns to the ground, Roman carves a mask out of the burnt wooden remains and transforms into Black Mask.
Eventually, Black Mask kills Sal Maroni and takes over as the lord of the Gotham underworld, forcing Sal's men to wear masks at all times. He begins referring to this group of criminals as the False Face Society. Eventually, Black Mask decides that it's time to get his revenge on Bruce Wayne. He begins kidnapping employees of Wayne Enterprises and their bodies turn up around the city with masks on their faces. Black Mask also abducts his ex-fiance, and disfigures her horribly so that they could be reunited. She eventually kills herself and Roman replaces her with a mannequin that he talks to as if she were Circe.
Commissioner Gordon can't stand the new Gotham and holds a press conference to speak with the citizens. He explains to them that they were all responsible for casting out the Batman, but it's now that they need him more than ever. Bruce is reluctant to put on his suit. It isn't until Black Mask and the False Face Society break into Bruce's newly build mansion in the middle of the night and kidnap Alfred, that Bruce realizes what he needs to do. He needs to save his city from this menacing evil, he needs to do what's right for Gotham, and for Alfred. Gotham needs Batman.
While fighting Black Mask, someone else enters the chaos, and Batman is knocked unconscious. When he comes to, he is being dragged through an alley to safety. The young man explains that Black Mask killed his family. Batman thanks him for saving his life. The young man explains that he was just following Batman's lead, Gotham needs heroes they can trust. As he leaves, Batman calls out to him and asks for his name. The young man turns to him and says, "Just call me Robin." He turns and catapults himself into the air, soaring away into the Gotham night. A caped crusader.
Runner-Up: Sarah A.
Gotham is a new place. Slowly, even the most vicious drug runners and murderers have fallen under the terror of a new breed of villain, those that wear masks, haphazard makeup, and give themselves only enigmatic names like Scarecrow, The Joker… and Batman.
With the loss of so many things important to him, while the malice and decay of a rotting city exist in his nightmares, never before has Bruce Wayne felt more alone.
Suddenly, a cloud billows up from below, which envelopes the windows in white. Looking down, Alfred begins to ask what on earth is going on, but mid-sentence he turns to see Bruce has disappeared.
Equipped with a gas mask devised by Lucius, Batman tries to see what the commotion is down on the streets. He hears a screaming laugh that seems all too familiar. As a strange shadow moves before him, the laughter reaching a shattering pitch, Batman expects to again encounter the twisted face of Joker. A young woman is covered in blue paint before him, playing cards stuck into the wet glop, screaming with laughter, her blond hair cut off in chunks. Her eyes are wild. Drugged.
"Joker," he says.
"This is not an encouraging opening for a conversation," a squeaky voice declares behind him.
Batman turns to face a small man with a top hat, his teeth clenched in a grotesque smile and his hands pulling awkwardly at his ratty suit. The hat is oddly shaped, as though strapped on over something larger. The girl jumps on his back and pulls him down.
"I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then."
He darts away, and the girl scrambles wildly after him. The chemical cloud begins to dissipate and Batman carefully vanishes, confused but with a clear sense of purpose once more.
"He calls himself the Hatter," Gordon says, pounding his fist on the desk in his office as Batman stands in the corner, "and he's been kidnapping girls, some kind of pedo with a murder streak. Keeps a gas tank under that hat of his. That paint he uses, too, mixed up with LSD, all kinds of compounds that cause neural lapses. I just can't figure out how he keeps himself from going under, all that gas. His face shows up clear as day every time."
Looking at each other, they realize he exposes the gas to himself too, time after time, becoming more unhinged with each strike.
Commissioner Gordon asks, "Are you going after him?" Batman says nothing. "Of course you are."
After a moment of thought, Gordon says, "There will always be greater depths of darkness. Gotham doesn't know how lucky it is, how unburdened her people should feel; you have taken all the darkness with you, for them."
"Let's hope it doesn't take any more of them with it," Batman says in his gravelly voice, "Arkham is getting pretty full."
Runner-Up: Clint N.
Gotham's Underworld, crushed and realing from the slaughter ensued by The Joker and Two Face, is in complete disarray. The GCPD, preoccupied with the witchhunt for the vigilante known as Batman, is unable to devote the necessary attention to finally finish off the mob, and unwittingly allows the most dangerous Villain yet assume command over the remaining power of the mob, who brings with him the unchecked introduction of Venom to the streets of Gotham. Bane, now commanding an army of Venom addicted thugs, wages war on the people of Gotham, while The Police act as a detrimental force to Wayne's Crusade, all the while depleting their own assets on the fruitless hunt for Gotham's true Hero. Harvey Bullock emerges to lead the hunt for Batman, and undermine and discredit Gordon, Bruce's only remaining ally inside the force.
While the the Police are distracted with Batman, and Batman the Police, Bane does irreversible damage to the people of Gotham with the new drug Venom, as well as freeing countless inmates in a raid on Arkham. Crane who will join his ranks, and Two Face, who was secretly locked up at Arkham by Gordon and Batman after the second film in an effort to preserve Dent's persona. (Leaving the Joker in his cell however, "Not relishing the competition.") Dent however, does not enlist in Bane's army, instead continuing his vendetta against the corruption of the Police and City Officials, and his unfinished business with Batman and Gordon.
As things continue to get worse, and the mob power peaks, a war erupts between the Police and Bane's army. Meanwhile city officials and cops continue to be executed by a mysterious figure. The three way battle continues as Batman tries to stop Gotham from becoming a war zone, the police try and stop Batman and Bane, but at the same time must decide if they need Batman once again, and if their hunt had been misguided from the beginning… and Dent must decide who deserves Justice amongst this chaos.
This entry in the series would once again be focusing on Batman's effect on Gotham, what would happen if all of the leadership in the mob was suddenly and violently overthrown. (Who would rise to power.) And if a society is pushed, and made to fear, how far will it go to be made to feel safe again, and can the powers that be overcome their pride and admit that Gotham might need Batman once again.
Runner-Up: Rudy H.
The hunt is now on for The Batman; the law has turned its full fury against him. Gordon, his position precarious due to his association
with the now wanted criminal, can do little to arrest the tide of ill sentiment.
Criminals begin turning up dead in droves, killed by bladed instruments. Batman takes the blame for this as well.
Compounded upon this is the alarming swiftness with which a new lord of the underworld is seizing influence, a man known only as The Black Mask. He is systematically eliminating his competition, as well as those cops that can't be bought. He also seems to hate Wayne Enterprises, whose personnel and property he targets ruthlessly. Politicians are meeting untimely ends, and being replaced by those favoring cowardly appeasement policies with regards to the mob.
Bruce Wayne, the entire city turned against Batman, his business suffering greatly, is in poor shape. Lucius has refused to do any more work for Batman, stating simply that "power corrupts." With Alfred and Gordon the only ones still in his corner, Bruce continues
to patrol to the best of his ability.
One evening, the Batman comes across a mugging where the criminal is stopped and dispatched by a black-clad woman wielding a short blade. He pursues her until she turns to meet him and they exchange blows, her greater agility proving a near match to his superior strength. She reveals herself as Talia as Ghul, daughter of Ra's and new leader of the League of Shadows. She is aware of his identity, and says that she is here to observe him. Her father would have wished her to kill him outright, but her views are not quite as extreme. Prove to me, she says, that your naively idealistic methods can serve true justice, and I will leave you be.
A newly motivated Bruce Wayne sets out to deal with this supposed Black Mask. The Mask, infuriated at the loss of many of his men (at the hands of Talia,) plans his revenge: releasing a "secret weapon" of his at a dinner celebrating Commissioner Gordon's appointment whilst simultaneously planting a bomb elsewhere in order to distract Batman.
Fortunately, Bruce manages to get Talia's assistance. The bomb is dealt with, and they jointly tackle the "secret weapon," which turns out to be a monstrous brawler named Bane, drugged out on experimental steroids and heavily armored. He is finally subdued, but dies due to the stress on his system. The Black Mask is exposed and convicted as a result of these crimes.
Batman's actions have greatly swayed public opinion back in his favor. Talia says that she still finds Bruce's methods to be grossly inefficient, though agrees to leave Gotham in his hands for now. She departs the city, though not before they share a night together, and she indicates that he'll be seeing her again. The movie ends with Bruce reflecting that having "a sidekick" turned out to be more useful than he would have thought.
Thank you again to all of our entrants. Grand prize winner Nicholas M. will receive a hardcover copy of the Batman: The Killing Joke graphic novel as well as three full-size Dark Knight posters (painted wall, burning building, Bat Pod). We hope everyone had a great time with this contest and we suggest you keep on the look out for more fun contests as they arrive! If you have any good ideas for more exciting contests, be sure to email us any suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Until then, see you next time!