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.
Darren 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. Darren 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.
Darren Aronofsky’s mother! is now playing in theaters.