Batman Year One by Frank Miller is considered one of the best Batman stories ever written. And rightfully so. It’s amazing storytelling from top to bottom. Giving a great look at the beginning of Batman’s crime fighting career. In fact many people wanted to turn it into a film. Now Darren Aronofsky was fresh off of critical success in 200’s Requiem for a Dream and Warner Brothers wanted him to take the helm and direct Batman Year One. Things seemed to be going good on paper. Heck he brought in Frank Miller to help write the script. The film fell apart and never happened however. Recently Empire Magazine interviewed Aronofsky and when asked about the film he said the studio passed because he wanted Joaquin Phoenix in the lead role and planned on making the film R-rated. He said the studio was against both of those ideas, which is ironic as Phoenix would go onto star as the Joker years later in a hard R film that was a massive success both critically and commercially. I personally think there were other reasons why the film didn’t happen.
I do believe in some aspects the studio being against the casting, and I do believe they were against the R-rating, as R rated Superhero films were, and in some cases still are a no no. However I think the other reason may have been the script itself. Batman is a great character, in fact he’s the best comic book character in history. Everyone knows the origin of Batman. Parents killed, grows up, uses his money for the best training, fights crime as Batman. It’s pretty basic. Batman Begins changed it having The League of Assassin’s train him, which I thought only added to the stupidity of the film, but Aronofsky had even more different ideas. Let’s look at them.
First off Aronofsky and Miller got the bright idea to re-write everything about Year One. I don’t mean just in terms of plot. Oh no, they wanted to re-write the origin completely and make it a cross between Death Wish, and a bunch of other stupidity. Yes stupidity. Read on to see what I mean. Bruce Wayne is a billionaire which makes sense, as that’s how he was able to hire the best trainers, and also finance his operation. Well why keep it that way. Oh no see in this masterpiece Bruce was going to lose all his money when his parents are killed and become homeless. Already that makes no sense in terms of not only the origin of Batman, but common sense as well. I mean why would you inherit your parents fortune, or for that matter not have a trust fund? Why homeless? I mean the hose was paid for, how did it go away? Anyway homeless Bruce Wayne runs into an African American named Little Al (Taking the place of Alfred I assume) who takes Bruce in and teaches him about the world of auto repair. No as Bruce is a dirt poor nobody who lives in a garage he cant afford trainers to teach him how to fight and drive so he does the next best thing. He gets a bunch of books about fighting and trains himself. Yes, he learns how to fight by reading books on fighting styles. Come on that doesn’t work. And if you don’t believe me watch Karate Kid. Miyagi laughs that Daniel is learning from a book.
Anyway thanks to the world of books he also learns to make chemical weapons, this much is believable I suppose, and thanks to the memory he has of his dads ring he becomes Batman. Yes, a ring. No Bruce does not have memories of bats in a cave, as there is no cave in this one. His dad had a ring with an intertwined T and W on it that Bruce kept. When he punches bad guys the two letters leave an imprint on the bad guys skin that looks like a bat. Hence the Batman name. Now because he is growing up in a garage he learns the art of building cars and takes an old Lincoln Continental and turns it into the Batmobile. Where does he park this magic car he made? Where else but the new Batcave, an abandoned subway station much like the Ninja Turtles used in part 2.
No he does meet Jim Gordon, who is just a rookie cop and new to Gotham in the book, but this time its also different. Gordon would have been a suicidal cop who hates it in Gotham and has been their for years. He wants to leave the crime behind because of his pregnant wife. Not like leave crime as in stop being a cop, he just wants to leave Gotham. Cant blame him there. Gotham is and always will be a sewer. Catwoman? Yeah she’s in this as well. But she’s a bit different as well. Still a hooker named Selina Kyle, but this time she is more of a dominatrix. She goes by Mistress Selina and would have been played by an African American woman. Bruce would save her from a corrupt cop as one of his first acts as Batman. She would have knocked Bruce out, killed the guy and left him to find the body becoming Catwoman in the process.
There would be various other changes as well. New characters would be introduced, and characters from the book would be gone. But in the end the studio put the brakes on this thing and decided to wait and carry on with a new trilogy that was directed by Christopher Nolan. Those films, although I myself am not a fan did take a good deal of inspiration from the comic story with only a few minor changes. Nothing like this mess would have been.
So there you go. The Batman Year One film that never was, although the animated film is great. It never happened. I personally am glad for that, but what about you? Would it have been something you wanted to see?