In 2000, the frenzy that followed the release of X-Men had studios buying up any comic book property they could get their hands on and putting those titles into production before the ink was dry. And the heads at Warner Brothers did something a bit unfounded; they would develop multiple story ideas, which would eventually lead to the rebirth of the prized Batman franchise. They could have continued to build upon the previous films. A script was already ordered for Batman Triumphant (aka Batman 5) and George Clooney was contracted to play Bruce Wayne again. Or, they could go in a new direction, a vastly different direction.
Darren Aronofsky had already worked with Frank Miller in an attempt to adapt the famed authors comic series Ronin. (Side note: Ronin is the tale of a 13th century samurai reborn in a crazy fascist computerized future. So, lets take a moment and think what that movie would look like.) This time the duo would try their hand at another of Miller’s works Batman: Year One. Both believed a strong, literal adaptation of this groundbreaking graphic novel would be the key to artistically re-energizing the Batman name.
Just kidding, they went nuts.
First, the creative team decided that children who idolized Batman should sincerely fuck themselves. This new Batman would be rated R. Second, any fan who was passionate about the Batman mythology–set up over nearly 70 years worth of comics–should get in line behind the kids. I imagine Frank Miller adapting his comic and saying something along the lines of “Fuck that Frank Miller guy! This is gonna be Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One!”
The script has young Bruce Wayne watching as his parents are gunned down in front of him. Then Bruce Wayne is kidnapped by a grease monkey named Big Al! Bruce and his pseudo brother/servant Little Al grow up working in the worst part of Gotham in a garage that is across the street from a brothel—prostitution, by the way, huge in this script. We also meet Jim Gordon, who is introduced while both taking a dump and contemplating eating his own gun. Imagine the action figure! After setting up a gritty atmosphere so dank it would make the Weinstein’s antsy, we get to the Batman part. In his first introduction to vigilante justice, Bruce stops a rape! Yay! Then almost gets blamed when the rapist/dirty cop gets killed. Boo. This slow dirty progression finally culminates in the rise of Batman and his classic Lincoln Continental converted into a Batmobile!
There is no way Miller and Aronofsky honestly thought that this movie would ever get made. Aronofsky pitched the brilliantly retarded idea of two Batman franchises working at once: a kid-friendly Bat movie and a wretched mind-fuck Bat movie for fans of rape and/or Lincoln Continentals.
Eventually, Aronofsky and Miller’s Batman: Year One was shelved in favor of the previously mentioned Batman vs. Superman film. Eventually, this grand battle for the cowl would be rightfully won by Christopher Nolan who made three amazing Batman films. (This piece was written eleven days before The Dark Knight Rises opens, so if by chance it sucks imagine how stupid I feel.) Though Aronofsky’s Batman: Year One never came close to actual production, in the development race to a Batman reboot it did not come in last place. No, there is another.
Tune in tomorrow for more tales from Batman’s journey through development hell–same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!