Batman too dark? Don't tell the rabid fan base that, they'll never believe it. Over the years, with Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy and this month's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and even Tim Burton's 1989 Batman to some degree, the caped crusader has edged closer and closer into the abyss, with each take darker than the next. But apparently director Darren Aronofsky, best known for his gritty critical hits Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan, was set to take Gotham's iconic vigilante to the depths of depravity. And that's why his Batman movie was doomed!
Batman has a very long and distinguished history on both the big and small screen. And he's been a fan-favorite since he was first introduced in the pages of Detective Comics back in 1939. But 1997's god awful Batman & Robin brought his silver screen career to a screeching halt. Before Christopher Nolan could resurrect Bruce Wayne in the superhero masterpiece Batman Begins, Warner Bros. brought in Darren Aronofsky to breath new life into the DC Comics legend.
Darren Aronofsky's version of the Batman was inspired by Frank Miller's Batman: Year One story. Development waged for awhile on the project, but as Frank Miller tells it, this version of the tale was simply too dark. In fact, it was pitch black.
Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy is very bleak, grim and basically defines the idea of a gritty comic book movie. But Darren Aronofsky's version took things way over the edge. And it was even too much for the hardened Frank Miller, who redefined violence in comic books. About his collaboration with the filmmaker, the Batman: Year One creator tells THR this.
"It was the first time I worked on a Batman project with somebody whose vision of Batman was darker than mine. My Batman was too nice for him. We would argue about it, and I'd say, "Batman wouldn't do that, he wouldn't torture anybody," and so on. We hashed out a screenplay, and we were wonderfully compensated, but then Warner Bros. read it and said, "We don't want to make this movie." The executive wanted to do a Batman he could take his kids to. And this wasn't that. It didn't have the toys in it. The Batmobile was just a tricked-out car. And Batman turned his back on his fortune to live a street life so he could know what people were going through. He built his own Batcave in an abandoned part of the subway. And he created Batman out of whole cloth to fight crime and a corrupt police force."
The Joel Schumacher movies were accused of being too bright and poppy. Fans hated the idea of Bat nipples, and the film franchise had fallen into campier ground than the 1966 Batman TV series. Which seemed almost impossible at the time. Darren Aronofsky wanted to bring some integrity back to the character. And Warner Bros. knew they needed a completely different take on the material if it was going to be successful. This Batman would have been older. Older than Ben Affleck's aged Bruce Wayne. He was being envisioned as a Clint Eastwood type at the time, and the actor-director was even seriously considered as the leading man.
Darren Aronofsky also wanted the movie to look different than any other Batman that had come before it. The idea was to use Tokyo as a stand-in for Gotham City. Everything would have been shot in the streets, with no sets. He would shoot various action scenes in dilapidated sections of various inner cities across America. This was going to Death Wish Meets The Dark Knight. But alas, it just wasn't to be.
Other notable changes include a Catwoman who was an abused prostitue. Bruce Wayne was a gearhead. And Commissioner Gordon was waging a war against police corruption to no avail. This was not a kids movie. It would have truly defined the R-Rated superhero film that is so popular after the success of Deadpool. It was asked of Frank Miller why he never turned the completed script into a graphic novel. His response? 'Maybe I will.' What do you think? Do you still want to see Darren Aronofsky's pitch black Batman? Or is it better buried away in Frank Miller's desk drawer? Sound off in the comments below.