Darren Aronofsky’s Batman Didn’t Happen Because He Wanted Joaquin Phoenix to Play Batman
We’ve done entire articles and videos about the coolest Batman movies that were never made. Any conversation on that subject has to at least consider Darren Aronofsky’s Batman, which was in development for a while at Warner Bros., but never actually happened. Aronofsky wanted to adapt Frank Miller’s famous Batman: Year One comic and tell a very dark origin story for the character. Eventually, the project fell apart. Then Christopher Nolan got involved. Batman Begins was the result, and the rest was history.
Now Aronofsky is revealing new details of his never-made Bat-movie, and they’re pretty fascinating. He told Empire that the real sticking point for the studio was the casting. In Aronofsky’s words...
The studio wanted Freddie Prinze Jr [for Bruce Wayne] and I wanted Joaquin Phoenix ... I remember thinking, ‘Uh oh, we're making two different films here.’ That's a true story. It was a different time. The Batman I wrote was definitely a way different type of take than they ended up making.
Aronofsky also revealed that his film would have been even darker than Batman Begins, with a screenplay written by Frank Miller himself. His script, Aronofsky added, included references to “Death Wish, The French Connection and Taxi Driver.”
Of course, in 2020 these comments all contain a ton of irony. Phoenix never played Batman — but last year he played Joker in an extremely dark, bleak film with nods to Death Wish and Taxi Driver. He even won an Oscar for the role. And Nolan’s Batman movies got darker and darker as they went on, grossing billions of dollars — and then Zack Snyder made his Batman equally grim, inspired in no small part by another iconic Frank Miller series, The Dark Knight Returns.
Now there’s another Batman movie in the works about a young Dark Knight, in his early Year One-esque days of detective work. That one’s directed by Matt Reeves and stars Robert Pattinson. Basically, Aronofsky’s only problem was he was way ahead of his time. The Batman is scheduled to open in theaters on June 25, 2021.
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