After the critical failure of 1997’s Batman & Robin, Warner Bros. decided to put Batman on hiatus to figure out what the next big screen adaptation for the Caped Crusader should be. Although Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins eventually reinvigorated the franchise, several ideas were looked at, including a Batman Beyond film, based on the animated series airing on Kids WB at the time. Boaz Yakin, whose writing resume consists of films like Prince of Persia: The Sands Of Time and Now You See Me, worked on the idea, and it sounds like it would been quite the visual spectacle.
As Yakin told IGN that, after directing 2000’s Remember The Titans, his agent suggested that he direct another studio movie rather than go do an independent film. Yakin jokingly said that he would want to do a Batman film (he really want he just wanted to direct a really big film), but his agent took him literally and set up a meeting with Warner Bros. Deciding to adapt Batman Beyond, here’s how Yakin described his vision for the film:
It was almost like Sam Raimi's Spider-Man but a little bit darker -- a teenage, kind of futuristic, cyberpunk Batman thing.
For those not familiar with the animated series, Batman Beyond, a continuation of Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures, followed teenager Terry McGinnis in a crime-infested Gotham City twenty years after Batman’s last sighting. After meeting an elderly Bruce Wayne, who has spent the last two decades as a recluse, Terry dons a high-tech Batsuit to take up the mantle of the Bat to fight both new super villains and classic Batman adversaries from the old days, with Bruce acting as his mentor.
While the live-action adaptation sounds like it would have been an epic blockbuster building on the Dark Knight’s legacy (especially if they had been able to bring back one of the previous Batman actors to play the old Bruce Wayne), sadly it didn’t work out. After working on a script with Batman Beyond creators Paul Dini and Alan Burnett for several months, Yakin bailed on the project after deciding his heart wasn’t in it, and in retrospect, he knows he made the right choice. He said:
It might have really hurt my career. I went off and wrote the best script I ever wrote that never got made. But it was just one of those moments in time where you think you want to do something, and then you realize you don't really want to do it, and for some reason it's on your IMDb page for the rest of your life.
Batman Beyond was just one one of the many projects that were considered during the interim period between Batman & Robin and Batman Begins, which included a Darren Aronofsky-helmed Batman: Year One adaptation and Batman Unchained, the latter of which was looking at Courtney Love to play Harley Quinn. Although the animated series has been off the air for nearly 15 years, Batman Beyond has remained a fan favorite that has continued on in three episodes of Justice League Unlimited, several comic book series, and an animated short released during Batman’s 75th anniversary.
Although Batman’s big screen future is currently in the hands of Ben Affleck in the DCCU, if Warner Bros ever gets tired of putting Bruce Wayne in the spotlight, perhaps there’s hope that Batman Beyond will eventually be realized in live-action…though don’t expect that to happen anytime soon.