Before Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice was even a glint in Zack Snyder’s eye, Darren Aronofsky was plotting to make a big screen version of Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One. Over the years, though, we’ve seen many proposed superhero movies fail to make it past the development stages, and sadly, this is one of those.
Although the script was co-written by Miller, the movie would have played fast and loose with the character’s history. It would have seen Bruce made homeless after his parents are killed and taken in by African-American mechanic Little Al (a version of Alfred). Rather than the usual billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne, we would have got a gritty, street-level Batman, who drove around in a souped-up Lincoln Convertible and whose gadgets consisted of throwing acid in people’s faces.
Speaking about what could’ve been a while back, Miller had this to say:
“That screenplay was based on my book “Batman: Year One,” and yeah it was much more down to earth. In it a fair amount of time is spent before he became Batman, and when he went out and fought crime he really screwed it up a bunch of times before he got it right. So it was 90-minute origins story.”
Unfortunately, the studio became more enamoured with the idea of a big-budget project featuring both the Caped Crusader and Man of Steel rather than a low-budget Batman solo film. And although Batman V Superman wouldn’t see the light of day (in that form anyway) for quite a while, many of the components of Batman: Year One would find their way into Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins. That film ended up being quite different to what Aronofsky had in mind, of course, and as such, many still wonder how things would’ve turned out had the studio gone with the Year One movie instead.
We’ll likely never know, but in a recent interview to promote mother!, the director opened up a bit about his canned project. When asked if his pitch was rejected all those years ago for being too dark, he said:
“You know what, I think it’s finally… I think we were basically, whatever it is, fifteen years too early. Because I hear the way they’re talking about the Joker movie and that’s exactly – that was my pitch.”
“I was like: we’re going to shoot in East Detroit and East New York. We’re not building Gotham. The Batmobile – I wanted to be a Lincoln Continental with two bus engines in it… With two bus engines, all duct taped together. It was the duct tape MacGyver Batman.”
Continuing on, Aronofsky noted that some of his ideas actually made it into Dawn of Justice, saying:
“Some of my ideas got out there through other films. Like the ring with “BW”, Bruce Wayne’s ring making the scar was our idea and I think that was in Zack [Snyder’s] or something. Which is fine, you write these ideas and they get out. ”
“We were all about reinventing it and trying to make it more Taxi Driver visceral. That was the whole pitch. But the toy people were like, ‘Oh it can’t be a Lincoln Continental, you have to make a Batmobile.'”
While it does sound like the Black Swan director had some interesting ideas for his take on the Dark Knight, it just wasn’t meant to be. Instead, Nolan went on to deliver his Batman trilogy, which brought us a very grounded, realistic spin on the hero that was well-received by fans and critics. Still, it’s fun to think about what could’ve been and Aronofsky’s comments here will surely have fans of the iconic character doing just that.