Alex Kurtzman has had his thumb in a lot of treasured geek pies. He’s got writing credits on movies in the Transformers, Spider-Man and Star Trek franchises and is currently the Executive Producer of CBS’ various Trek shows. But it seems there’s one character who he was shut down from working on: Batman.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Kurtzman recalled pitching his take on the hero to Warner Bros. Executives, and things didn’t exactly go the way he’d planned.
“We went in for Batman before Christopher Nolan, not realizing that they wanted to shift to that [darker] tone. Halfway through the meeting, after three or four weeks of planning, the executive stopped us: ‘Did nobody tell you that we’re not going in that direction at all?” We just said, “Thank you for your time. We should probably stop here.'”
If this was around Nolan’s initial pitch for Batman, I’m guessing that the meeting took place in 2003, and as you may know, the early 2000s were unsettled times for the Bat-franchise. Batman and Robin was still a very raw wound, having gone quite a long way to undoing the work done in making audiences take the character seriously that’d happened over the course of the 1990s. This meant that there were several Bat-projects in the offing, all vying to be greenlit.
With Burtonverse sequel Batman Unchained a non-starter, the studio began casting its net a bit wider, considering a live-action Batman Beyond adaptation (which might’ve starred Christian Bale), a Batman V Superman movie (uh, also planned to have Bale as Batman), and Batman: Year One, Darren Aronofsky’s radical reinvention of the hero (they approached – you guessed it – Bale). I wish Kurtzman would have gone into a little more detail about his failed pitch, though it’s probably safe to assume that Warner Bros. would have been very agreeable to Christian Bale playing Batman.
After all that, I’m glad we ended up with Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, which after ten years of the MCU and the DCEU now feel like the final gasps of non-universe based superhero films. Let’s hope that the Joaquin Phoenix Joker movie will capture some of their down-to-earth charms.