Before The Batman and Batman Begins , another film by Darren Aronofsky was to feature a new Batman so dark and violent that Warner turned it down.
Years before Robert Pattinson’s tortured Bruce Wayne in The Batman and before Christopher Nolan took on the character to begin his trilogy with Christian Bale in Batman Begins , another feature was set to introduce a new Dark Knight after the catastrophic Batman . & Robin : Batman: Year One .
A film that should have been directed by Darren Aronofsky and inspired by one of the greatest stories dedicated to Gotham’s vigilante , with a screenplay written in collaboration with one of its authors, Frank Miller . Both had reimagined Batman as a psychotic, ultra-violent hero , and while he may have been let down by Warner, he visibly influenced those who followed
THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS
In 1996, satisfied with the first footage from the set of Batman & Robin , Warner Bros. is already thinking about the sequel and asks Joel Schumacher if he wants to go back behind the camera for the next adventures of the two heroes. Hoping to finally achieve the more serious Batman that the studio had twice refused him , the director accepted and began working with screenwriter Mark Protosevich on the script for this fifth installment, titled Batman: Unchained (also later known as Batman: Triumphant). ).
Only, in June 1997, Batman & Robin was released in theaters, and after a more than decent opening weekend, the film was ultimately a resounding critical and financial failure . Far from the 411 million Batman or the 311 million Batman Forever , the eccentric adventures of the Dark Knight and his sidekick against Mister Frieza and Poison Ivy are considered one of the worst superhero films ever produced . It garnered only negative reviews and $238 million at the box office (excluding inflation and marketing costs).
A few weeks later, Lee Shapiro and Stephen Wise come up with a scenario called Batman: DarKnight (true), in which Batman and Robin are confronted with the Scarecrow, Harley Quinn, Man-Bat, Killer Croc or even Clayface, but Warner prefers to leave it aside. After the disaster of Batman & Robin and the cancellation of the sympathetic series Lois & Clark, the new adventures of Superman , the studio decides to stop the expenses and cancels the Superman Lives of Tim Burton with Nicolas Cage at the last moment .
Having understood that the saga initiated by Tim Burton and taken over by Joel Schumacher had come to an end (and no longer knowing what to do with Batman), Warner then decided to start over on new bases. The studio then developed two different projects, while waiting to validate the most promising.
First a live-action adaptation of their smash-hit new animated series , The Next Generation of Batman, written by cartoon creators Paul Dini and Alan Burnett, writer Neal Stephenson ( Cryptonomicon ) and director of the Most Beautiful of Fights , Boaz Yakin; then an adaptation of Batman: Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli, which Joel Schumacher was to direct before Lorenzo di Bonaventura and the studio executives got rid of him to find whoever would take over Batman to bring him into a new direction.
A whole bunch of screenwriters and filmmakers follow one another in the producers’ offices: Akiva Goldsman ( The Client , Batman Forever , Batman & Robin ), Andrew Kevin Walker ( Seven ), Joss Whedon, Bryan Singer (who will finally make X-Men for the Fox and will later return to Warner for Superman Returns ) or even the Wachowskis , who had just returned to Hollywood action cinema with Matrix , produced by the same studio.
The two sisters have also presented a first draft of the scenario ( findable on the Internet ) rather faithful to the original comics: Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham to put an end to corruption and arrest Carmine Falcone with the help of a Jim Gordon still an inspector while Selina Kyle begins her career as a thief and saves cats that undergo genetic experiments in laboratories.
In 1999, not yet convinced, Warner Bros. approached another director, Darren Aronofsky , who had made a name for himself with his low-budget feature debut the previous year, Pi , and was finishing production on his second film, Requiem For A Dream . Fan of Batman and Frank Miller comics, the young filmmaker is interested, but because he has another project in mind, a big science fiction film that he would like to make for a long time, as he will tell later at the screenwriter Bruce Scivally in his book Billion Dollar Batman :
“ It was a strategy to lure them and try to make a trade. I was working on Requiem For A Fream and I got a call that Warner wanted to talk about Batman. At the time, I had the idea for a movie called The Fountain, and I already knew it was going to be a great movie, so I thought to myself, ‘Will Warner really give me 80 million dollars to make a movie about love and death after a movie about heroin? So my theory was, if I can write this Batman movie and they see what I’m capable of, then maybe they’ll let me continue with my other project, which worked out really well, until until Brad Pitt resigns. »
When he meets the producers at Warner, Aronofsky half-jokes tells them he’d like to adapt Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns starring Clint Eastwood to play the brutal, alcoholic old Bruce Wayne and filming in Tokyo so he can film Gotham as he imagine it.
The studio obviously refuses, and instead submits to him its idea of adapting Batman: Year One , which also pleases the director, especially since he knows Frank Miller well since his work on Sin City directly influenced him on Pi . and that he had already collaborated with him in 1998 on the adaptation of another of his comics (also cult), Ronin , for New Line Cinema (recently acquired by Warner), before the project was abandoned and he’s going to make Requiem for A Dream . So Aronofsky contacts Miller again and the two men begin to think about what they want to do.