Batman has seen his fair share of live-action adaptations in his 70+ years of existence. We're quite familiar with Christopher Nolan's take on the character, and Ben Affleck's latest version, but there were numerous other projects before those two that never saw the light of day. One of them was Darren Aronofsky's Batman: Year One. Back in the early 2000s, Warner Bros. was scrambling to revive the Caped Crusader's big screen franchise following the critical dud that was Batman & Robin.
A slew of different projects were considered until Aronofsky came onboard to craft a loose R-rated adaptation of #FrankMiller's Year One. There were a few concept designs done for the character and a first draft was even finished, but the project wasn't meant to be, because Warner Bros. abandoned it in 2002. Unsurprisingly though, comic book fans were left to wonder what could have been. And recently we learned perhaps the most interesting bit of information yet.
Joaquin Phoenix Would Have Been Batman
Yes, you heard that right, as strange as it may sound. #DarrenAronofsky sat down for an interview with Yahoo! Entertainment to promote his newest mind-bender, mother! During the chat, the director revealed that Joaquin Phoenix was his top choice to play the character:
"I always wanted Joaquin Phoenix for Batman."
Well that certainly would have been an interesting choice. Now, this isn't the first time that #JoaquinPhoenix has been considered for a superhero role. Back in 2015, he was Marvel's top choice to play Stephen Strange after Benedict Cumberbatch's schedule didn't permit for it the first time around. However, the actor decided against taking on the Sorcerer Supreme because of the extensive contract that would have tied him for multiple films.
That kinda makes you wonder whether he would have accepted donning the cape and cowl in the first place. But seeing how this was more of a standalone and experimental story by Aronofsky and not necessarily the start of a sprawling franchise, I think there would have been a good chance of him singing on.
Was Daronofsky A Good Choice For Batman?
It's always exciting to hear about projects that never got made, but would this Batman have worked? Changes from comic book to screen are almost always good; superhero films need to innovate with so many coming out every year. But it's also important to keep the essence of the character, and from everything we've heard, this adaptation would have stripped #BruceWayne of what made him Batman.
Bruce would have been poor and homeless, Commissioner Gordon would have been suicidal, and Gotham wouldn't have played a part in the story at all. To give you an example of how much things would have changed, during an interview with First Showing, the director revealed his Batman would have been much more similar to Todd Philips' upcoming standalone Joker movie:
"You know what [...] I think we were basically [...] 15 years too early. Because I hear the way they're talking about the Joker movie and that [...] 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."
Yeah, I'm not sure that treatment is for the Dark Knight. Granted, there have been other versions of the hero that have changed key aspects of his mythology (a good example is the Batman by Gaslight story), but even those always retain his essence, something that Aronofsky's version most likely wouldn't have. Taking that into consideration, I think it was for the best that this version of the Caped Crusader stayed in the drawing board stage.
We'll get to see #Batman on the big screen once again when Justice League lands in theaters on November 17, 2017.
Would you have liked to see Joaquin Phoenix donning the cape and cowl? Let me know in the comments!