For about as long as Batman Beyond has been around, fans have wanted to see the futuristic world of Gotham brought to life in live-action. The truth is, it got a lot closer to happening than many people may realize.
This, according to Paul Dini, who co-created the animated series and, as it turns out, was writing a movie for Warner Bros. at one point that would have possibly starred Clint Eastwood as an older Batman/Bruce Wayne.
The reveal came on an episode of Kevin Smith's Fatman on Batman podcast. Paul Dini explained that he was hired by Warner Bros. to adapt the animated series, which debuted in 1999, into a live-action feature in 2000. Boaz Yakin (Remember The Titans) was on board to direct and co-write, alongside Alan Burnett, who co-created the show with Dini. Here's what Dini had to say about it.
"It was set in Gotham's future, but it didn't quite have the fantastic, futuristic edge. It was sort of like an amalgam. There was a little bit of Dark Knight, there was a little bit of contemporary comics and there was Terry [McGinnis] and the suit and everything. It was old Bruce Wayne."
For those who may not be familiar, Batman Beyond takes place in Gotham City years in the future and sees Bruce Wayne aging out of fighting crime. A teenager named Terry McGinnis is recruited by Bruce to take up his mantle, and that's pretty much it. But the futuristic setting, along with the dynamic of an older, more experience Bruce Wayne, allowed for quite a bit of invention within the franchise.
2000 was a very different time for Warner Bros. and Batman. This was just a few years after the disaster that was Batman & Robin, and we were still five years away from Christopher Nolan changing the game with Batman Begins. So why not try something a little different? Having Clint Eastwood as an older, grizzled Bruce Wayne mentoring the young Terry McGinnis to become Gotham's new Caped Crusader certainly would have been different. Paul Dini proposed something darker, with Blade Runner inspirations.
Ultimately, Warner Bros. passed and Paul Dini moved on to write the animated feature Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. Batman Beyond aired for just three seasons and concluded its run in 2001. Be that as it may, the show has maintained a loyal fanbase and its legacy in the DC universe has remained strong, with various comic book titles over the years and, more recently, a Blu-ray box set with the entire series remastered.
There has been a strong desire to see this property adapted as a movie, but there are no plans, at least not plans that have been revealed, to do that as of now. A rather popular idea is to have Michael Keaton return as the older Batman. For now, we have Matt Reeves' The Batman to look forward to, as the long-awaited movie is currently set to arrive in theaters next summer, with Robert Pattinson in the lead role. For more with Paul Dini, check out his episode of Fatman on Batman. The Clint Eastwood as Batman art comes from Lee Howard at Deviant Art.