#8 DARREN ARONOFSKY’S BATMAN: YEAR ONE
After the Titanic-sized failure that was Batman & Robin, Warner Bros. didn’t know what to do. Batman was a cash cow, but the movie they just put out, which they were all impressed with before release, was a box office disappointment and a critical failure. There was only one choice, start over. Batman & Robin director Joel Schumacher pitched them on the idea of doing Frank Miller’s classic retelling Batman: Year One as a reboot of the series. Warner Bros. started to consider it, but pushed Schumacher out the door and began looking for someone else to try it out.
Requiem for a Dream director Darren Aronofsky signed on to direct the film and co-write the script with it’s original writer, Frank Miller. When he first spoke about the film, Aronofsky said to throw out everything you know about Batman, “It’s somewhat based on Frank Miler’s novel. Frank Miller is writing the screenplay with me, but it’s going to be very different than anything in Year One [the graphic novel], and anything you’ve seen. Toss out everything you can imagine about Batman! Everything! We’re starting completely anew.” When pressed about it’s faithfulness, he reiterated that it would be a whole new animal. “I’m going to do a very extensive reading of the literature, but it’s going to be very, very different. I liked Tim Burton’s thing. I think all of the films will stand on their own. All I can say is that I want to do something which totally reinvents the franchise.”
Details on the film have come out since its abandonment and it’s enough to send Bat-purists into a fit of rage. This version of Batman would not be a billionaire, in fact he’d barely have any money to his name. Aronofsky even compared his pitch on the film as Batman meets Death Wish or The French Connection, and said Batman would be like a Travis Bickle character. “Our take was to infuse the [Batman] movie franchise with a dose of reality,” Aronofsky said in an interview for the book Tales from Development Hell. “We tried to ask that eternal question: ‘What does it take for a real man to put on tights and fight crime?’” The changes to the Batman mythology got worse. Bruce Wayne no longer grew up an orphan in a mansion with his butler Alfred, but instead he was found on the streets and raised in a repair garage by a muscular black man named “Big Al.” Wayne developed the persona of the Bat-Man over time and slowly incorporated some gadgets into his arsenal. The film’s script did feature many references to other Batman lore, such as Selina Kyle and a “green-haired-giggly inmate” at Arkham Asylum.
Warner Bros. eventually pulled the plug on the project, especially after Aronofsky said he wanted to cast Clint Eastwood as Batman and shoot the entire film in Tokyo. The project was abandoned in favor of another doomed movie, Batman vs. Superman. In 2005 they would come back to Aronofsky to direct Batman Begins, which he turned down.
Years later, Aronofsky would be open about why his version never got made. “I think Warners always knew it would never be something they could make. I think rightfully so, because four year olds buy Batman stuff, so if you release a film like that, every four year old’s going to be screaming at their mother to take them to see it, so they really need a PG property.”
The current Justice League film isn’t the first time it was talked about. Go to page 9 to read about the last time they tried it!