Folks might have forgotten now since it’s been nearly 20 years since the original reports, but way back when, Darren Aronofsky was attached to a reboot of the “Batman” franchise that would have been incredibly unique. This was before Matt Reeves and Christopher Nolan took their shots at the character and would have featured a much more adult version of the Caped Crusader. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Now, Aronofsky is talking about what went wrong.
Speaking to Variety, while promoting the upcoming release of “The Whale” alongside star Brendan Fraser, filmmaker Darren Aronofsky talked about his “Batman” reboot idea that would have borrowed heavily from the iconic comic book series, “Batman: Year One.” Portions of that story were utilized in Nolan’s “Batman Begins,” but Aronofsky was hoping to do a much more small-scale, adult version of the character. But the timing was just off.
“It was after ‘Batman & Robin,’ the Joel Schumacher one,” Aronofsky explained. “That had been a big hiccup back then at Warner Bros., so I pitched them a rated-R, boiled-down origin story of Batman. A rated-R superhero movie was probably 10 to 15 years out of whack with the reality of the business then.”
He added, “It had promise, but it was just a first draft. The studio weren’t really interested. It was a very different take.”
That said, the filmmaker agrees that modern superhero films have been much more experimental with ratings and tones. And perhaps, if the film was pitched today, WB would have thought twice about passing on it.
“I was always saying, ‘why can’t there be several different types of comic book movies out there.’ Now there are. It’s just our timing was off,” he said.
In addition to “Batman: Year One,” Aronofsky also pitched a “Wolverine” film that he ended up not making, mainly because he wanted to shoot in Japan, but Mother Nature had other ideas. “I think I signed up to make ‘Wolverine,’ and the earthquake happened a few months later,” he explained.
But he still would be into doing a superhero film in the future, “If the right opportunity came around.”
Speaking of WB passing on films, you can’t talk about the ‘Batman’ extended franchise without mentioning the recent cancellation of “Batgirl,” which featured Aronofsky’s “The Whale” star, Brendan Fraser, in a villainous role. Since Fraser was with the filmmaker during the interview, Variety asked Fraser about the surprise decision to cancel “Batgirl” while the film was deep into post-production.
“It’s tragic,” Fraser said. “It doesn’t engender trust among filmmakers and the studio. Leslie Grace was fantastic. She’s a dynamo, just a spot-on performer. Everything that we shot was real and exciting and just the antithesis of doing a straightforward digital all green screen thing. They ran firetrucks around downtown Glasgow at 3 in the morning and they had flamethrowers. It was a big-budget movie, but one that was just stripped down to the essentials.”
He added, “Everything that Adil and Bilall shot felt real and exciting.”
So, instead of seeing two ‘Batman’ films that will never see the light of day, you can watch Darren Aronofsky and Brendan Fraser’s collaboration, “The Whale,” when it hits theaters on December 9.