A lot of us see Christopher Nolan's "Dark Knight" trilogy to be the most adult imagining of our favorite vigilante, Batman. The "Dark Knight" movies have been praised for being dark and haunting portrayals of Batman and for finally bringing the character justice after the disaster that was "Batman and Robin"
But before the "Dark Knight" trilogy, there was a much darker version of Batman in the works. So dark, in fact, that it would have probably gotten a R-Rating.
We were so close from having the first Rated-R Batman movie.
Back in 2000-2001, director Darren Aronofsky and Frank Miller wrote the script for "Batman: Year One". The film was going to be loosely based on Miller's "Batman: Year One" comic book that was published in 1986. The movie was set to have Christian Bale play the beloved protector of Gotham City and was going to be the first dark Batman movie since "Batman Returns".
At this point, you may be asking "This sounds like a really cool idea, so why wasn't the movie made?"
The main reason why "Batman: Year One" never made it past the pre-production stage was because it was TOO dark. In Aronofsky's and Miller's screenplay, Batman is an emotional wreck who lives in a tough ghetto in Gotham City and instead of living with his handy butler, Alfred, like in the other movies, he's friends with a black auto-mechanic named "Big" Al who takes Batman under his wing after the death of his parents. Batman is very violent and is prone to burst in a fit of violent rage. The Batcave is in an abandoned part of the subway and the Batmobile is just a tricked out Lincoln Continental.
When asked about the project, Frank Miller said:
It was the first time I worked on a Batman project with somebody whose vision of Batman was darker than mine. My Batman was too nice for [Darren Aronofsky]. We would argue about it, and I'd say, "Batman wouldn't do that, he wouldn't torture anybody," and so on.
Yes, the screenplay for "Batman: Year One" was too dark, even for Frank Miller.
Let that sink in.
When Aronofsky and Miller submitted the screenplay to Warner Bros., they rejected it. Miller said:
Warner Bros. read it and said, "We don't want to make this movie." The executive wanted to do a Batman he could take his kids to. And this wasn't that. It didn't have the toys in it.
Warner Bros. didn't want to make a dark, mature Batman movie because they were scared that they would lose money if they weren't able to appeal to kids and teens and if they weren't able to make any toys out of it.
"Batman: Year One" would have been the most mature addition to the Batman franchise and it would have been cool to see on the big screen. But sadly, it will most likely never be made as a feature film.
When Frank Miller was asked if he would make a graphic novel out of the "Batman: Year One" script, he responded:
Maybe I will.
At least we have that to look forward to.
You can read the "Batman: Year One" script here.