The world went crazy when Batman v Superman came out over the holiday weekend. Some people loved it, while others....well they did not like it at all. For many fans, however, any opportunity to see Batman on the big screen is awesome and over the years we've missed out on some seemingly amazing films. Gathered below is a chronological list of all the Batman movies we almost got to see (for better or for worse).
Batman in Outer Space
There really isn't much information out there about the movie that almost happened in the late 70s (as the internet wasn't around yet). What we do know is that after the success of the Adam West Batman television show, CBS was interested in creating a TV Special Batman movie tentatively called Batman in Outer Space. One popular theory about why Batman would go to outer space is CBS wanted to cash in on the success of a film you might have heard of: Star Wars.
Return of Batman
The first attempt to create a 'dark' Batman was not well received. Studios were looking to make a film that resembled the campy feeling of the 60s television show. That didn't stop Michael Uslan, who purchased the rights from DC Comics in 1979, from writing a script "to make the definitive, dark, serious version of Batman, the way Bob Kane and Bill Finger had envisioned him in 1939. A creature of the night, stalking criminals in the shadows." His vision for a dark Batman predated The Dark Knight Returns comics by 6 years, but was never picked up, and various mergers and changes within studios led to the film never being made.
If you already believed that the 80s was a strange time, then this odd film penned by Tom Mankieicz will come as no surprise. The premise is nothing new, following the origin stories of Batman and Dick Grayson as they do battle against the Joker and Rupert Thorne. In fact, the script and concept art (created by comic book artist Marshall Rogers) was so compelling that the film was announced for a mid-1985 release with a budget of $20 million. However, the actors that were cast for James Gordon and Alfred Pennyworth, William Holden and David Ninen respectively, both died before the movie became a reality.
What's so weird about it?
You might be saying to yourself "Nothing seems too strange about this movie" and so far you wouldn't be wrong. It's not until you realize that Bill Murray was the top candidate to portray Batman and Eddie Murphy was approached to play Robin. However, after nine rewrites by nine different screenwriters, the film was scrapped from the lineup and never made.
Batman Unchained (also known as Batman Triumphant)
After years of trying, Tim Burton was finally able to make a successful Batman movie. This film spawned 3 sequels featuring three different Batmen: Micheal Keaton, Val Kilmer, and George Clooney. When it came time for a fifth movie, many ideas were proposed. While the filming for Batman & Robin was still going on, Joel Schumacher was approached to direct his third film within the Tim Burton Batman world. The script featured the Scarecrow (who would be portrayed by Nicolas Cage) as the primary villain with the Joker showing up as one of Batman's fear toxin induced hallucinations. Harley Quinn was also to appear, but in this version was the Joker's daughter and was seeking to kill the Bat in revenge for her father's death. However, when Batman & Robin received negative reviews. the studio was unsure of their plans moving forward and sought other live action ideas.
At the same time Warner Bros. was deliberating over the future of Batman, a film making duo consisting of comic book fan Stephen Wise and writer Lee Shapiro pitched a script focusing on Dick Grayson. In this version, Bruce Wayne had given up his vigilante activities and Dick Grayson was attending Gotham University where Dr. Johnathon Crane (played by Christopher Lloyd) was a professor. After an argument with his colleague Dr. Kirk Langstorm, Crane unknowingly transforms Langstrom into Man-Bat. The general public believed that the Man-Bat was vengeful, blood thirsty Batman which forced Bruce to come out of retirement to clear his name. Despite sounding awesome, Warner Bros. passed on the film in favor of producing one of the following two stories.
By 2000 nothing had come from the disastrous movie that was Batman & Robin, but the studio was considering two different films, one of which was based on the Batman Beyond storyline, with a script written by Paul Dini, Neal Stephenson, and Boaz Yakin, with Yakin attached to direct. However, the studio almost instantly lost interest after the first drafted and decided to move forward with the next movie on this list.
Batman: Year One
Based on the 1987 comic book of the same name by Frank Miller, Year One was intended as a reboot to the Batman franchise. Darren Aronofsky and Frank Miller were writing the script and Christian Bale was even approached to play the titular character. When asked about the film, Aronofsky said "it's somewhat based on the comic book. Toss out everything you can imagine about Batman! Everything! We're starting completely anew." However, less than two years later, Warner Bros abandoned Year One for Batman vs Superman.
Batman vs Superman
No, not the one that just came out, this version of the iconic story line was set to star Christian Bale as Batman and Josh Hartnett would have played Superman. In this version, which has a completely different plot than the movie that came out this year (so no spoilers), Superman had recently divorced Lois Lane and Batman was about to marry his long time partner Elizabeth Miller when she was violently murdered by Joker. For some reason, Batman blames Superman for her death and the two face off against each other. However, it is soon revealed that somebody else entirely was behind the whole plot, and the two decide to team up to bring the mastermind down. The plans were scrapped in order to create a stand alone Batman movie (the Christopher Nolan trilogy) and a stand alone Superman movie written by J.J. Abrams called Superman: FlyBy.
This also explains why the Batman V Superman logo can be seen in the movie I Am Legend (something many fans thought was some weird prediction of the future). It was meant as an inside joke by writer Akiva Goldsman who also wrote the script for Batman vs Superman back in 2002 (that's a whole 14 years before we got to actually see some version of the film).