In 1999, director Darren Aronofsky was approached by Warner Bros. about helming his own Batman movie. As he described in the book, the film would’ve been adapted from Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One for a darker, grittier, “bring-it-back-to-the-streets raw,” R-rated kind of movie potentially starring Clint Eastwood. This is one of those “famous films that never happened” stories, but, thanks to Miller, we know a little bit more about the “why not?” portion.
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, the comic book writer/movie director
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 him. We would argue about it, and I’d say, “Batman wouldn’t do that, he wouldn’t torture anybody,” and so on. We hashed out a screenplay, and we were wonderfully compensated, but then 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. The Batmobile was just a tricked-out car. And Batman turned his back on his fortune to live a street life so he could know what people were going through. He built his own Batcave in an abandoned part of the subway. And he created Batman out of whole cloth to fight crime and a corrupt police force.
Aronofsky told Collider back in 2006 that he wanted to do this Batman in part to convince Warner Bros. to let him make The Fountain, a film he’d make a few years later. The studio was looking for something more bold for the character of Batman following the letdown that was Batman & Robin with George Clooney and Chris O’Donnell. Apparently, just not as bold Aronofsky envisioned. Christopher Nolan’s dark but not Aronofsky-level gritty Batman Begins followed in 2005 and kickstarted the Dark Knight trilogy with Christian Bale.
Ben Affleck is next in line to tackle the Bat with director Zack Snyder for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice before possibly, maybe, directing himself in a solo Batman film.