In the nearly 16 years that I've been reporting behind closed door developments within Hollywood, I've been privy to some very interesting story concepts that have never seen the light of day. I've still got a handful that I have never spoke of (and perhaps one day I will), so when I heard about today's news story that there was once a proposal for an animated Batman TV show where Bruce Wayne and his rogues gallery of villains all went to the same Gotham high school, I wasn't too surprised.
The news came from a blog maintained by Celeste Green and Jeffrey Thomas. A couple of years back the duo sent off a sketch of a teenage Joker and Harley Quinn with the tagline "The class clown has never been so funny...or psychotic," with the bat-symbol logo GOTHAM HIGH running beneath the two troublemakers. And then this happened...
"We were approached to create a spec series based off of an old drawing of mine that we then sent to DC," wrote Thomas on the couple's blog. "Unfortunately, the project got lost in the sea of all the other Batman related projects in the works. But hey, it was still fun to make."
Thomas also shared five pieces of concept artwork from the proposed Gotham High cartoon as well as this series premise:
"We all go through incredible changes as teenagers: growth spurts, bad skin, a sudden insatiable need to uphold justice and avenge your murdered parents…. Well, that is if you're Bruce Wayne.
"As if being a freshman at Gotham High wasn’t tough enough, Bruce's insomnia and technological fascinations are taking their toll. Instead of spending his time studying, he has begun to obsess over an emerging personality trait: Batman. But under the watchful eye of his guardian and steward, Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce is forced to put his intelligence to good use: graduating high school. But given his classmates, can Bruce survive Gotham High?"
And the gang of usual Batman supervillain suspects are all on hand for Gotham High. From left to right we've got: Clayface, Two-Face, Penguin, Killer Croc, Riddler, Batgirl, Batman, Scarecrow, Catwoman, Joker, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Bane and Mr. Freeze.
Obviously, such a show is taking place outside of regular Batman universe continuity. While part of me wants to run screaming from the premise that Batman and his villains all knew each other in high school and hung out, when you get past the notion of only permitting yourself to like "serious" Batman stories, Gotham High is actually a neat idea for turning the Batman relationships inside-out. OK, so The Joker isn't going to be killing anyone in high school, but what kind of clown antics would he get up to in school? How would Bruce Wayne fit in? How the heck could you make Bane or Killer Croc work? Make then the school jocks? Which character gets to be the Judd Nelson character from The Breakfast Club?
After seeing this, I think that we're only a couple of years away from seeing a Star Wars cartoon where Luke, Leia and Han are all enrolled at the same high school. George Lucas may already be considering such a proposal as I write these words...