With DC's as-of-yet unnamed banner for movies set outside of the DC Extended Universe, as well as Marvel and Fox's envelope-pushing efforts with Deadpool and Logan, the world of superhero films looks a lot different than it once did. Many thank Christopher Nolan's groundbreaking reboot of the Batman franchise for this, but if the universe had played out a little differently, we would have had Darren Aronofsky to presumably thank. Alas, the mother! director's bite at the Gotham City apple never happened, and the reason Aronofsky believes it didn't take was because his radically different approach to the material came too early. As he sees it:
You know what, I think it's finally... I think we were basically -- whatever it is -- 15 years too early. Because I hear the way they're talking about the Joker movie and that's exactly -- that was my pitch. I was like: we're going to shoot in East Detroit and East New York. We're not building Gotham. The Batmobile -- I wanted to be a Lincoln Continental with two bus engines in it.
During an interview at the Toronto International Film Festival, Aronofsky confided that the reason his project, based in part on Frank Miller's Batman: Year One, didn't work out was because of the above factors. Nowadays, the Darren Aronofsky pitch for Batman: Year One might actually have gained some traction. With the ground broken by Nolan, a darker-toned mythos for Batman is something fans would probably rather see over a continuation of whatever Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice would see the character doing. It's part of the reason why fans are so excited for the Matt Reeves' variant, which has been described as a bit of a noir film for the Caped Crusader.
However, Aronofsky's Taxi Driver-like pitch was in those wilderness years between Batman and Robin and Batman Begins, where major studios were trying to find their way back to stomaching the prospect of making comic films. In the 2002 time frame he specifies as the home for this project, Spider-Man was just making waves with its unique interpretation, and X-Men was already working on its first sequel. So in that climate, dark and gritty reboots weren't exactly the preferred method, a fact that was never lost on Darren Aronofsky for a second. In his talk with First Showing, he further ruminated on the way the market's changed thusly:
I think we were ahead of our time. And I was always like; why can't we make a more lower-budget rated-R [movie], just like in comics you have different brands but and now they're finally doing that. They're doing the spinoffs, which is great. This is an exciting time because they'll be able to take more risks and we won't be seeing the same superhero movie over and over again. You'll get things like Deadpool, which was a relief as compared to seeing the same film over and over again.
While we may have never gotten the Batman: Year One-inspired film that Darren Aronofsky set out to make in the early 2000s, there's definitely been a sea change in the comic book movie industry. Keeping that in mind, maybe it's time Aronofsky call up Frank Miller and start up the Lincoln Continental Batmobile again, as the non-DCEU university could always use another auteur in its corner. For now, though, you'll be able to marvel at Darren Aronofsky's latest work, mother!, which opens in early shows tomorrow night. While you're at it, take a look at our 2017 release schedule to see what else may be of interest in the coming weeks and months.