March 4, 2016

Frank Miller on Aronofsky’s ‘Batman’ That Never Was

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Written by: Taylor Salan
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It seems that we have been getting an influx of the stories behind never-made superhero movies. It was only a few weeks ago that George Miller finally (sort of) clarified what happened with his cancelled Justice League movie. Now, in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Frank Miller spoke up about why Darren Aronofsky‘s Batman: Year One adaptation that never happened.


Near the turn of the century, Darren Aronofsky was approached by Warner Brothers to write and direct his own Batman film. While the world was still trying to comprehend the utter stupidity of Batman & Robin, Frank Miller and Aronofsky set out the write the screenplay for the film that never was. The rest of what happened has been left to speculation– until now.

Check out the excerpt from the interview, where Frank Miller describes the tone of the film, as well as the reason why it didn’t eventually happen:

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.

Around the time that this film was in development, Warner Bros. was still recovering from the franchise-killer Batman & Robin. While I’ve always heard that Aronofsky’s version was intended to be a gritty, back to basics approach, I can see why this movie was never made. It seems to be far too extreme of a character deviation. To be quite honest, it feels to me that a film like this would have been too far ahead of it’s time, had it been made.batman_kilmer_031711

When Batman Begins came out in 2005, the time was right. Although Batman Begins seemed to find a fine line between what Aronofsky wanted to do with his Batman film (in the sense that both pulled elements from Year One), it most certainly also wasn’t anything close to the aforementioned Joel Schumacher atrocity. In retrospect, Batman Begins is certainly the most accessible of all the Batman films that we have seen thus far. In the current superhero film climate, I think people might be a little more receptive to a stripped-down, re-purposed version of Batman than they did 15 years ago. As a lifelong fan of the character of Batman, I don’t know if Aronofsky’s version would work. But it sure would be interesting to try!

What are your thoughts on Aronofsky’s film the never was? Would you have gone to see it, even if it had shifted so far away from the source material? Sound off in the comments below!

About the Author

Taylor Salan
Taylor Salan
Taylor Salan is a independent filmmaker who currently resides in the San Fernando Valley. Since childhood, Taylor Salan had a fascination with movies. Although he was an avid fan of film as a child, it wasn’t until his years as a young adult that his passion for the art of filmmaking truly came to fruition. A current student of the film production program at California State University Northridge, Taylor studies Cinematography but ultimately has plans to direct full time if afforded the opportunity. In his spare time, Taylor produces audio podcasts and blogs about film for ageofthenerd.com. He is also a longtime musician, playing drums for over 8 years.



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