What happened to Darren Aronofsky’s Batman: Year One?

Around the turn of the century, things weren’t going well for Batman. A few years earlier had seen the world subjected to batman and robin, a film decried by critics and now considered one of the worst superhero films ever made. Its failure led to the cancellation of a proposed fifth film unleashed batman, leaving Warner Bros. unsure of what to do with their character. Many ideas were offered, all united in their desire to restore Batman to his rightful place in the upper echelons of the genre, but the studio’s uncertainty led him to languish in purgatory before being revived by Christopher Nolan with the years 2005 batman begins. The most notable of these ideas was Batman: Year Onean adaptation of by Frank Miller seminal comic that aimed to take the franchise back to its darkest roots. Darren Aronofsky had to direct, and unlike the character he was tasked with resurrecting, Aronofsky was on top of the world. The success of his first films Pi and Requiem for a dream had made him cinema’s latest indie darling, and the prospect of him revitalizing the dormant franchise thrilled fans. However, what he came back with was not what the studio had in mind. Aronofsky wanted to push the mature tone beyond anything attempted before, with even Miller expressing skepticism of his ideas. Casting disagreements exacerbated the problems, and before long First year has been cancelled. Exactly what the finished film would have looked like remains unknown, and given how polarizing Aronofsky’s films tend to be, it’s unlikely it was the crowd pleaser that Warner Bros. hoped. But there’s a certain sadness that it never saw the light of day, and its unique approach to the material makes it a curious storyline to speculate on.


A freshman adaptation had been considered for years before Aronofsky’s involvement

batman and robin director Joel Schumacher campaign to lead it in 1998. As its name suggests, First year serves as an origin story that depicts Batman’s first year as a crime fighter after his twelve-year absence from Gotham City. Its self-contained nature makes it an ideal entry point for those looking to get into the Batman comics, and given its street-level plot and gritty tone that was a million miles from its previous cinematic portrayals, it’s no surprise that it was chosen as the basis. for its final live reboot. Developed at a standstill like other unfortunate projects like Batman: Dark Knight and batman beyond momentarily took center stage, but the hiring of Aronofsky and Miller in 2000 meant that production was soon in full swing.

It didn’t take long before the trouble started

The main issue was tone, with Aronofsky wanting to take the dark tone of the comic to a whole new level. Forget characters like Superman who can save the world ten times without getting a single scratch, he’s a bleeding superhero like everyone else. This Batman shows no hesitation when dishing out his twisted version of justice, with broken bones and graphic violence thrown out with metronome regularity. One fight sees him lose his front teeth and be forced to wear dentures for the remainder of the film, revealing a lasting impact on his crusade that continues long after the action has ended. Even in her quietest moments First year did not allow its audience to rest, Jim Gordon’s opening scene being a prime example. The future commissioner of the Gotham Police Department is not featured apprehending criminals or some equivalent heroic act, but rather as he sits on his toilet with the butt of his service revolver in his mouth, his contemplation of suicide being stopped only by the voice of his ignoramus. woman inviting him to lie down again.

Unsurprisingly, Aronofsky was considering the film with an R rating, and unsurprisingly, the studio wasn’t enthusiastic about it. Batman was supposed to be their flagship franchise, and curtailing its box office potential with such a rating was an unnecessary liability before it even left the starting gate. Return of Batman faced similar concerns and thus alienated much of its audience, which directly led to the family approach that batman forever took. Miller also expressed concerns about the storyline, later stating that his version of Batman was “too kindfor Aronofsky. Considering Miller has been criticized at times for portraying Batman as too violent and amoral, that says a lot about the direction. First year was going to. Obviously, he and Warner Bros. had no desire to repeat history, but Aronofsky was attached to his film.

Casting also proved to be an issue. Aronofsky favored Joaquin Phoenix for the main role (an interesting anecdote considering his later role in Joker), while the studio campaigned for Freddie Prinze Jr.presumably hoping that his success in films aimed at young people like I know what you did last summer and She is all that would convince this crucial demographic to take Batman seriously. Coming The Dark Knight Trilogy actor Christian Bale was also tapped for the rolebut the project was canceled before anything could be finalized. Instead, the studio rallied around the more commercially viable batman versus supermana successful epic that had exploited Wolfgang Peterson to direct (and was once again shooting Bale for the lead role). This movie also didn’t make it to the big screen after Warner Bros. decided to focus on individual Superman and Batman projects instead, and while that might have meant a revival for First yearat this point, this ship had definitely sailed.

Year One May Have Delivered A Different Kind Of Batman

When it’s impossible to know what First year would have looked like, the information we have makes for amusing speculation. Reading through his unfinished script (copies of which have been circulating the internet for years) reveals an intriguing take on the character that saw Aronofsky put his definitive mark on the franchise while paying homage to the titular comic. Bruce Wayne’s characterization saw the biggest changes, with Bruce rejecting his last name and instead choosing to live in the slums of Gotham. His only friend is Little Al, the owner of an auto repair shop whose upstairs apartment serves as Bruce’s house in chains, and who replaces Alfred as his mentor (this character being absent from the story). Much of Bruce’s dialogue comes through storytelling in the form of letters he writes to his dead father, creating the image of someone with severe psychological damage long before he begins to disguise himself as bald. -mouse. His costume consists entirely of items purchased from a local sporting goods store, while his gear consists of grenades made from cleaning supplies as well as more mundane items like rope, tape, and super glue. Likewise, the Batmobile was to be nothing more than a Lincoln Continental with blacked-out windows, a decidedly unremarkable affair compared to its usual grandeur. This is a much more improvised Batman than how he’s normally portrayed – a design ethos that carries over to the rest of the film.

The general feeling of First year would have been closer to a crime drama than a traditional superhero movie, and nowhere is that better exemplified than with its villain. Rather than choosing someone from Batman’s iconic rogues gallery, Aronofsky opted to use the more unknown Commissioner Loeb instead. Loeb, a relatively minor character in the grand scheme of Batman comics, was to be The first year big foil, and his gooey personality that makes most ordinary criminals look like a saint in comparison ensured that he wouldn’t be a typical supervillain. Given the grounded nature of the film, it’s hard to see someone like Two-Face or Mr. Freeze fitting into this world, and making the main villain the leader of the Gotham PD would have been a welcome change from the flamboyant villains that the Batman movies usually employed. Similarly, the supporting cast would also have been brought back from their comic book counterparts, such as Selina Kyle aka Catwoman who now works as a dominatrix operating out of a converted Monarch Theater (the same theater Bruce’s parents visited just before their murder). It’s a Gotham in desperate need of a hero, and no other cinematic depiction before or since better captures its depravity.

But such a stark tone doesn’t translate to box office success, so it’s probably no surprise that Warner Bros. forwarded Aronofsky’s vision in favor of Nolan’s. batman begins also took Miller’s comic book influence, but did so with a more delicate balance of thrills and artistic pursuits that maintained the prominent PG-13 rating. The Dark Knight Trilogy has since been heralded as one of cinema’s greatest trilogies and helped usher in the superhero craze that continues to this day, and it’s hard to see Aronofsky’s film replicating its success. Instead, his film feels closer to more auteur-driven movies like Joker Where The Suicide Squad on which Warner Bros. recently focused, their reduced budget allowing greater creative freedom. Aronofsky then compared First year at Joker, saying it was “exactly” his film project but he just pitched it “15 years too early”. It’s hard not to feel sympathy for him putting so much effort into a film the industry wasn’t ready for yet, but he seems resigned to never seeing his script on the big screen. Moreover, the recent The Batman definitely playing in the same stadium as First yearand imagining that but with bloody violence and an even gloomier tone gives a rough approximation of what Aronofsky’s film might have looked like. First year Certainly would have changed public opinion of Batman following his recent critical failures, but perhaps such a jarring change in tone would have been a bit too much for some people.