In the eight years separating Batman & Robin from Batman Begins, there were several possible movies featuring the Caped Crusader that came incredibly close to seeing the light of day following the studio cancelling Joel Schumacher’s Batman Unchained. Among them were the likes of Batman: DarKnight, Batman Beyond and even Batman vs. Superman (yes, Warner Bros. had attempted to make it a reality long before 2016), each of which I could discuss factoids pertaining to for hours.
But one in particular that gets brought up to this day is that of Batman: Year One. Believe it or not, Darren Aronofsky was set to adapt Frank Miller’s classic arc exploring the icon’s origins at one point – and with the lauded comic book scribe serving as screenwriter, no less.
While recently appearing on Empire Magazine’s podcast, The Playlist, Aronofsky spoke of how his vision was rejected, with WB eventually giving the green light to Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins:
“Me and Frank Miller worked on a couple of scripts. We worked together on a couple of scripts, yeah.
…I think Nolan’s version is exactly what the studio wanted. I think I was much more of a gritty feel is what we were going for. Eventually I got to make ‘The Fountain,’ that was the film I really wanted to make. I just chose to pursue that.”
Being someone who’s had the fortune of reading one of Miller’s drafts, I can say that if Batman: Year One debuted in theaters, it would’ve most assuredly been R-rated. Mature as Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy was, WB was still able to sell obscene amounts of merchandise pertaining to it, toys included. Suffice it to say, Miller and Aronofsky’s pill-popping Bruce Wayne wouldn’t have been able to do the same.
Admittedly, this isn’t the time for me to dissect what I read ages ago, but it may still be possible for you to find said draft for Batman: Year One online. If you do, be forewarned that, despite being penned by Miller himself, the movie would’ve been much, much different than the comic book you love. Heck, Gordon’s first name was even changed from “Jim” to “Dave”!
But hey, at least we did receive the animated movie back in 2011, and that was an incredibly faithful adaptation. I guess we still won in the end, eh?