Batman is perhaps one of the most iconic characters ever put to page and screen. Also, due to the fact that he has suits, gadgets and cool vehicles, he is one of the most merchandisable characters ever. It is between these two issues that a lot of the Batman movies either succeed or fail.
Below, is a list of those Bat movies that didn't make it.
WOLFGANG PETERSON'S Batman vs Superman (2004)
While thinking on the upcoming [Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice](movie:711870), I think it's important to mention that it's not the first time that this idea has been cooked up by Warner. Back in 2004 there was an attempt, with Troy director Wolfgang Peterson to adapt this story. The film would have followed Batman and Superman being friends and Clark being best man at Bruce Wayne's wedding to Elizabeth Miller.
An evil partnership between The Joker and Lex Luther results in the death of Miller while on honeymoon with Bruce. After these events Bruce goes in to a fit of vengeful rage while Clark tries to stop him. Bruce ultimately blames Clark for not helping save Elizabeth and so Batman and Superman battle each other. Christian Bale was offered Batman and Josh Hartnett, Superman but as soon as director Wolfgang Peterson left the project Warner got scared and shut the whole film down.
GEORGE MILLER'S Justice League: Mortal (2009)
The most recent pitch was the Justice League: Mortal movie that never happened. This was being developed alongside Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy which apparently did not please him.
Mad Max's George Miller was to direct and he had intentionally not cast A-Listers hoping that the actors would grow into their parts as the movies progressed.
The cast announced was to be Armie Hammer as Batman, DJ Cotrona as Superman, Adam Brody as The Flash, Megan Gale as Wonder Woman, Common as Green Lantern, Santiago Cabrera as Aquaman, Teresa Palmer as Talia Al Ghul, Zoe Kasan as Iris Allen, Hugh Keays-Byrne as Martian Manhunter and Jay Baruchel as the villainous Maxwell Lord.
With various casting skepticism from the public, an apparently gargantuan budget and a production right smack dab in the middle of a writer's strike, the project was doomed.
But let's go back a bit further. After the huge critical panning and poor box office of Batman and Robin in 1997, various pitches surfaced. A considerable amount were pitched by Joel Schumacher as he was still keen to explore the Batman mythology, Darren Aronofsky was in the pot for an adaptation, even George Clooney had somewhat of a treatment for the Caped Crusader.
Even before Tim Burton's 1989 movie there was an idea for the character, check it out below:
BILL MURRAY AND IVAN REITMAN'S The Batman (1983)
Before Michael Keaton was cast as the Bat and before Tim Burton received the directing job there was a script called 'The Batman' that had been in development since 1983. Bill Murray was the studio favorite and hot of the success of Ghostbusters Ivan Reitman was to direct.
The script was to be written by Superman: The Movie and James Bond scribe Tom Mankiewicz who had the idea of developing the Rupert Thorn character. Thorn was a corrupt politician who famously was being blackmailed by Doctor Phosphorus to turn the city against Batman. He later becomes mayor, and, if we are to follow this story line from the comics, the character of Hugo Strange holds a bid to reveal Batman's identity. The script writer decided to keep the story but replace Hugo Strange with the Joker - to be played by David Bowie. Now that would've been crazy.
By the time considerable re-writes were done on The Batman, six years had passed and the directing reigns were given to Tim Burton, lots of the announced cast had died and Michael Keaton became Batman. Interestingly Burton fought for Keaton while the studio still wished to cast Bill Murray.
TIM BURTON'S Batman 3 (1995)
Just after Batman Returns - still my personal favorite - Burton had wanted to do a third Batman. He was ready, he was excited, he had the idea, he had already set up Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent in Batman and Michelle Pfeiffer as a returning Catwoman at the end of Returns. Even Robin Williams had been earmarked for 'The Riddler but there was one problem: the studio.
Burton's Batman Returns had been a PG-13 'for brooding, dark violance' and was seen by many to be too dark for a Batman film. This was a time when the studio were starting to realise the potential millions to be made from superhero merchandising - 'more toyetic' was the phrase used. This is why we had the decidedly softer more colourful sequel of Batman Forever, directed by Joel Schumacher.
Burton was fired by being kindly asked to make a smaller movie 'like Edward Scissorhands' instead. Keaton refused to return without Burton and Billy Dee Williams was given a huge cash settlement to not appear as Harvey Dent in the third movie. Catwoman was never seen in the following movies but got a brief nod in Forever when Dr. Chase Meridian tells Bruce that he likes 'strong women with skin-tight vinyl and a whip'.
This one I am particularly annoyed didn't happen. I would've loved to have seen how the world developed. Returns had so many great elements that transcended just the Batman story and I think Burton was a great match for the darkness, the humour and the psychological issues in the Batman universe.
Check out this cool fan made poster from Deviantart of what could've been:
CLOONEY'S BAT - No not that one (2002)
Clooney said in an interview that he had pitched a Batman that would reset the universe and take it in a different direction. Once again, following the questionable success of Batman and Robin, no-one would listen.
Check it out below:
You start at Alfred's burial, with a Sam Spade film noir narrator, talking to this death figure standing there that only he sees. Go into the first big action set with Robin and he gets killed. Now you're sitting there with Batman in this chair... Now he's operating not out of [a sense of] justice, but out of hatred. Hatred for evil, but hatred enough for himself. The bat signal goes off and he pulls the shade; he won't go in. Slowly, a kid brings him out of it. He ends up not only fighting the Mad Hatter, or whoever, but he ends up fighting death. He fights this death character in order to save this kid. And he beats him. The two of them end up going off this cliff, and they die. Both of them. Go black.
Come up and you see a bright white ceiling. All of the sudden you see Kim Basinger in a nurse's outfit, looking right into the camera, down on top of the gurney. She comes back with Jack Nicholson in a doctor's outfit. He's going, "Well, hello. How are you?"
On TV there's Jim Carrey as a gameshow host,
Chris ODonnell as the patient next to him. What you have is that since he was eight years old and his parents were killed, he's been comatose. He has lived his entire life--all of this hatred--in this room.
This would've been in keeping with the psychological elements constantly apparent throughout the series and would have presented it to us in an Inception-like film.
He hasn't been able to face life until he faced death and beat it. But even then, he's in absolute denial. You still have that Sam Spade dialogue and he's saying, "Am I to believe that my life, everything, all these people, lived in my imagination, in this room? No. I will not accept it."
Sam Spade is a popular film noir character from the books of Dashiell Hammett, he was iconically played by Humphrey Bogart in the 1941 movie The Maltese Falcon.
The camera slowly pans the room, it comes around and you hear him saying, "I am Batman. I am Batman. I am Batman." Then you see him, Michael Keaton, whoever you want. White hair, sitting up, just totally crazy, out of his fucking mind.
Do it for $30 million. You reinvent the franchise...
It's certainly a novel approach to the franchise. I do like the idea of the villains being concepts in his mind rather than real life villains. The story can then take on the fact that they are larger than life and expressionist characters.
Given Clooney's successful track record of producing and directing to date, I could certainly see how this could've been a success. Though, at the time, who knew?
Perhaps another reason for this was because at the time Warner was seriously thinking about, and in fact had publicly announced, Batman Beyond.
BATMAN BEYOND (2002)
Batman Beyond was to be a live action adaption of the hugely successful animated series created by Paul Dini and Alan Burnett. The team was to write the adaptation and did indeed followup and create a full script.
By the time the script was placed on the Warner desk the team had went back to pining over the idea of Batman: Year One, an idea pitched, surprisingly by Joel Schumacher.
THE JOEL SCHUMACHER PITCHES (INC. DARREN ARRENOFSKY)
Joel Schumacher appears numerous times in the Batman pre-production story. He obviously directed Batman Forever and the fan favorite Batman and Robin. But this is not the only time he had been involved with the Batman franchise.
Batman Triumphant (1999)
Had Batman and Robin been a success the followup, directed by Schumacher, would have been called Batman Triumphant which would've introduced two villains; Harley Quinn and Scarecrow. Quinn to be played by Madonna with a reworking of the story that she was Joker's daughter rather than the love interest. Scarecrow who would have, reportedly, been played by Nicholas Cage.
The story was to pan out similar to that of the Begins' Scarecrow but in one scene the plan was that Scarecrow would use the fear gas on Batman forcing him to confront his parents killer, The Joker. In this nightmare sequence Jack Nicholson said at the time, he would have returned to play The Joker.
Clint's Bat - The Dark Knight Returns (1999)
Based on the Frank Miller comic of the same name, Warner had played with the idea of adapting the older Batman, at age 55 no less, to return to his life of justice after having defeated the villains of gotham years before. He is so old and battered that he needs a machine to help him fight and operate.
This comic features villains 'The Mutants', who have yet to be seen on film, and all the other Bat regulars in aged personas. It also features other characters from the DC universe such as Superman and Wonderwoman. There is a good chance that elements of this that will appear in the [Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice](movie:711870) movie later this year. Davis S. Goyer who who has proved in the past is a big Frank Miller fan, and with the announcement of Wonder Woman, will surely be bringing elements of Returns to this next instalment.
David Bowie's name was thrown around once again for the part of The Joker. Michael Keaton was considered to return to the part but also, and rather strangely Clint Eastwood was considered for the part.
Clint as the Dark Knight:
Batman: Year One (2000) (PART 1)
In a third attempt to convince the studios to make another Batman. Joel Schumacher pitched the idea of making Year One. His idea was to make the prequel that would inevitably lead up to the events of the first Batman (1989) with Michael Keaton.
This was another Frank Miller story and elements of this, like the training and manhunting abroad, were what eventually inspired the Batman Begins script.
I think where Schumacher wished to continue his world and at least contribute to it, the studio just wanted to wash its hands and start a fresh.
Batman: Year One (2002) (Part 2) - DARREN ARRENOFSKY
An interesting development that came to pass a few years later was that of Darren Arrenofsky attempting to develop Year One. When I say develop, I mean almost disregard, as a considerable amount of the comic book was omitted or changed dramatically. Year One having Bruce considerably younger is one of the only things that remained.
Aronofsky was reported saying this at the time:
...it's somewhat based on the comic book, toss out everything you can imagine about Batman! Everything! We're starting completely anew...
Arrenofsky's idea for Year One would have have had Bruce without his wealth, growing up on the streets among the squalor. Alfred would have been an African-American who ran a Auto Repair store and acting as a mentor to Bruce. Selina Kyle would have been an African-American streetwise prostitute. Batman's weapons would have been chemically based rather than mechanical.
Again this would have been a completely new Batman perhaps similar to what they are doing with the [Gotham](series:1127075)tv series; though a damn sight darker.
Finally, for those of you still sore about Batman and Robin I urge you to check out this Part 2 making of documentary from the DVD of Batman and Robin. The cast, production team and Joel Schumacher give an impression of the film with the power of hindsight. They talk nipples, a rushed production and the invention of a film studio word 'toyetic'.
Check it out below:
So there we have it folks, what would you have liked to have seen the most?
Cover Photo: HqDesktop