Deadpool has sent shockwaves through Hollywood with its record breaking performance at the box office. Consequently, film producers may now be frantically dusting off R-rated superhero scripts that were once consigned to the archives.
One such script that never made the transition to feature film is Darren Aronofsky's vision for DC's Batman. The auteur, whose movies are always dark in nature and morbid in tone, was asked by Warner Brothers to come up with an idea to reboot the franchise following the insipid Batman & Robin (1997).
Aronofsky's Vision Was A Dark, R-Rated Adaptation Of 'Batman: Year One'
The original comic, written by Frank Miller in 1987, is generally regarded as one of the best Batman graphic novels. With plenty of Miller-esque noir elements and plenty of violence, the story of Batman's first year of crimefighting would've deviated massively from its camp predecessor.
Aronofsky actually worked with Miller to produce a script. This strictly adult version of the Caped Crusader was completely different to any version we've seen before, so much so the director said:
"Toss out everything you can imagine about Batman! Everything! We’re starting completely anew.”
And the director, famed for macabre masterpieces such as Requiem For A Dream, Black Swan and The Wrestler, wasn't lying. Here are some of the key differences in the controversial script:
1. Batman Was Still Orphaned, But He Wasn't Rich
Bruce Wayne is notoriously wealthy; not only does this provide a fitting contrast between his alter ego and his professional life, it also allows him to invest in the most up to date equipment, and crucially it gives the character of Alfred relevance.
But what if Wayne didn't have wads of cash? This origin story depicted the superhero as a penniless and homeless orphan (his parents were still murdered) who roamed the streets, filled with the desire of vengeance.
2. His Arsenal Was Massively Reduced
No money equals a lack of quality weaponry. This Bruce Wayne used a mixture of inexpensive smoke bombs and acid to attack his enemies, who were much more grounded in reality; generally criminal gangs, not supervillains, were targeted by the vigilante.
3. As For The Batmobile...
That was a tooled up Lincoln Continental. No, really. The above concept art is for real.
4. Alfred Was In The Story... As a Mechanic Named Big-Al
Every protagonist needs a role model, and in 'Year One,' Alfred still offers valuable life lessons. However, this is Alfred as you've never seen him before.
Known as Big-Al, the “gigantic, early middle-aged black man” rescues a young Bruce Wayne from the streets, giving him somewhere to live above his garage.
He teaches him the art of fixing cars rather than fixing Wayne's misshapen bow-ties. These valuable skills allow Wayne to create his own Batmobile.
5. Jim Gordon Still Had A Pivotal Role
The cop was still involved, although he did have deep rooted issues; the opening scene would've shown him with the barrel of his gun inside of his mouth, contemplating suicide.
In the script, Batman, too, took medication for mental health issues.
6. The Story Was Dark. Even Darker Than 'The Dark Knight Trilogy'
After the lighthearted Batman & Robin, producers wanted a different direction, and Aronofsky was the man to provide that. Half of the city was a red light district, and even Al's garage was located opposite a seedy sex club. Talking of his vision for the movie, he said:
“The Batman franchise had just gone more and more back towards the TV show, so it became tongue-in-cheek, a grand farce, camp. I pitched the complete opposite, which was totally bring-it-back-to-the-streets raw, trying to set it in a kind of real reality."
But The Film Was Never Made
Due to its dark nature, the film was never made. At the time, Aronofsky said:
“I was pitching to make an R-rated adult fan-based Batman – a hardcore version that we’d do for not that much money. I think Warners always knew it would never be something they could make. I think rightfully so, because four-year-olds buy Batman stuff…so they really need a PG property.”
But that quote now reverberates like an airhorn in an empty auditorium. Deadpool has proven R-rated comic book adaptations can work. As for adult? Check. Hardcore? Check. Pretty cheap to make? Check.
Affleck's portrayal of the character in Batman v Superman has the right kind of gritty feel that could work with 'Year One.' And many fans would love to see an R-rated Batman. Maybe if this pitch happened today, the studio would go for it.
It is important to point out that if it wasn't for this falling through, we would never have got Nolan's impeccable Dark Knight trilogy. But, now we have a new Batman, could this be the direction to take?