Director Darren Aronofsky had a pitch for a Batman movie that never got off the ground, leading to the creation of Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins instead. Had Aronofsky made his movie, he claims he would have hired Joaquin Phoenix to portray Bruce Wayne.
Aronofsky’s Batman: Year One would have been an Elseworlds-influenced take on the character, with the director hoping for an R-rating for the project with numerous liberties being taken with the source material to make for an even more grounded take on the character than what Nolan would later come up with (since this version of Bruce Wayne would have been screwed out of his family fortune, leading to the homeless ex-billionaire to have to start his crime-fighting career without an abundance of resources). In an interview with Yahoo!, Aronofsky got to talk about how he feels the pitch was ahead of its time and who he’d hire to portray the Caped Crusader:
“It’s funny, I think we were just sort of out of time with our idea. I understood that [with] comics, there’s room for all different types of titles, but I think Hollywood at that time was still in the Golden Age of comics, and they were still just doing the classic titles in classic ways. I think audiences now, they’ve seen enough comic films that they’re game for that, so I think we were a little bit out of time for our idea. I always wanted Joaquin Phoenix for Batman.”
Phoenix has since indicated that he’s not particularly interested in playing a role in a superhero movie, so it’s not likely that the actor would have taken the role had this film been made – especially so soon after Batman & Robin‘s critical thrashing. That being said, many fans would have loved to have seen Phoenix take on such a role. Aronofsky has also pointed out that the pitch for the rumored Joker spin-off (which is set outside of the DC Extended Universe) resembled the same sort of approach that he wanted to take for the Batman franchise.
Aronofsky’s mother! is now playing in theaters.
6 Elseworlds Movies That DC Should Make For The Big Screen
Occasionally, there are times when comic book authors toss comic book continuity aside and straight-up create an alternate universe to tell brand new stories that bend the rules of the characters and radically change their settings as a side effect. DC calls these stories “Elseworlds,” and from the sound of things, DC is coming up with a plan to introduce that concept into their movie division with the standalone Joker movie set outside of the DC Extended Universe. The project, which has yet to be formally announced by Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment, is set in the 1980s and is styled after movies like Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (fitting, considering that Scorsese is producing the project). It should be noted that the DCEU is still in active development on a Joker & Harley Quinn project, featuring Jared Leto and Margot Robbie reprising their roles from Suicide Squad, following that movie’s unexpected cliffhanger.
Whether or not having a mix of creator-driven and shared-universe-driven narratives get developed at the same time will work, or whether audiences will be confused by it, remains to be seen. It certainly has worked for DC’s animated movies (as evident by most movies being their own thing while some — like Justice League: War and Teen Titans: The Judas Contract — share the same setting), but in an age of cinematic universes, this might be harder to pull off. The DC Elseworlds Multiverse, as we’ll call it for the sake of this article, has a lot of source material it could draw upon to tell one-off stories. While the DCEU will continue tell one big story about the return of the so-called Age of Heroes, the DCEM should be able to take advantage of the nature of self-contained stories and go completely nuts with them, embracing their radical departure from the source material and telling the kinds of stories we could never see in a shared universe.
Here are 6 stories that we think need to be brought to the big screen as part of Warner Bros. and DC’s Elseworlds-style universe. Click Next to get started.