Why Darren Aronofsky's Batman Movie Never Happened, According To Frank Miller

Even before we get to Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the Dark Knight has already had a long, distinguished career on the silver screen. After the franchise took a nosedive with the disastrous Batman & Robin, but before Christopher Nolan breathed new, gritty life back into with his Dark Knight trilogy, Warner Bros. tapped Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky to bring the Caped Crusader back with his version of the character, inspired by Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One story. Development went on for a while, but, according to Miller, there was one big issue, it was too dark.

Consider how bleak and grim the Christopher Nolan Batman films got at times, the idea of too dark may initially seem a bit redundant, but Darren Aronofsky had some pitch-black ideas to be sure. Even too dark for Frank Miller, who has made a career out of penning gritty, violent comic tales. About their collaboration, Miller told The Hollywood Reporter:

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.

After the bright, almost goofy antics of Batman and Robin in the two Joel Schumacher-directed films, Batman Forever in 1995 and Batman & Robin two years later in 1997, Darren Aronofsky planned to take the character somewhere very, very different. Like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Aronofsky’s Caped Crusader was going to be an older incarnation, and he even said he wanted to cast Clint Eastwood at one point.

Darren Aronofsky also wanted to shoot in a wholly different fashion than any version before, or afterwards for that matter. He floated the idea of using Tokyo as a stand-in for Gotham City, and intended to shoot entirely on the streets, with no sets, visiting inner cities across America to give it the grit he was after—he called his vision Death Wish meets Batman.

And it didn’t end there. The script featured an incarnation of Catwoman who was an abused prostitute, a Bruce Wayne who was a total car fanatic, and Commissioner Gordon fighting police corruption. This was not going to be a movie to take your kids to; this was going to be dark, grim stuff indeed, and wouldn’t do much to drive toy sales.

Over the decades, Batman has gone though countless evolutions, but this would definitely have been a Caped Crusader like none other. At the end of the interview, Frank Miller was asked why not turn the story they hashed out into a graphic novel, to which he responded, "Maybe I will."

What to you think? Would you have liked Darren Aronofsky’s Batman to come to pass? Would you read the story as a graphic novel? Or do you think that it’s best it never materialized? Let us know in the comments below.

Brent McKnight