8 Unmade BATMAN Movies

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Geek Dave checks out some proposed Caped Crusader movies that never saw the light of day.

Last time we looked at 6 Batman projects from the 70s and 80s that never ended up being produced (you can read that here), that was the years between the end of the Adam West starring TV show and the premiere of the Michael Keaton starring movie.

Well we all know how those movies went, with the fourth one being Joel Schumacher's 1997 Bat-travesty, "Batman and Robin". So let's look at the years between that and the Dark Knight's big screen return in Christopher Nolan's 2005 movie, Batman Begins. Starting with...


1. Batman Triumphant
George Clooney very nearly wore the cowl for a second adventure, because in 1997 this movie was actually green lit!

And then on the 20th June Batman and Robin was released, and that idea quickly changed.

In what would've been Joel Schumacher's third Batman movie, Clooney, Chris O’Donnell and Alicia Silverstone would all have returned. It was hoped to attract Madonna to the part of Harley Quinn, she would be seeking vengeance for the death of her father, The Joker. The other big-bad of the film would've been the Scarecrow, both Nicolas Cage and Jeff Goldblum were being considered for the part. A script was written by Mark Protosevich (who recently penned Thor), and Schumacher had hoped to make this installment darker than the previous one. It's doubtful that he would've succeeded as Warner Bros. wanted the franchise to me more kid friendly so they could sell more merchandise. Who cares about artistic integrity when you've got shelf-loads of action figures to shift, eh?

But Schumacher didn't give up hope...


2. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
After Batman Triumphant was officially canned, Joel Schumacher went to Warner Bros. and as good as pleaded with them to let him make a live action film version of Frank Miller's graphic novel, The Dark Knight Returns. It wasn't the first time he'd approached them about this, as he'd first hoped to make this move instead of Batman and Robin, as he revealed:
"I think I’m the most envious of Chris Nolan because he got to do The Dark Knight — and that’s the one I begged to do as my second Batman film. I wanted to do a whole other thing, because we had kind of re-invented franchise with Val as Batman and it was a very young, sexy, and much less expensive movie. We brought in Robin and I wanted to make The Dark Knight desperately, but the studio didn’t want that and it’s their money and they’re my bosses."
This time however, Warner Bros. did listen to his pitch and seriously considered it. Both sides agreed that ideally they like to lure Michael Keaton back to the role, but if that wasn't possible then Clint Eastwood would've been approached. For the second time the person attached to the role of the Joker was that of David Bowie, any excuse to use this picture again...


...but it never got past the discussion stage, because Warner Bros. had a different idea...


3. Batman: Darknight
Possibly so they didn't have to pay Frank Miller, Warner Bros. decided to create their own aged darker Batman story on the cheap, hiring rookie writers Lee Shapiro and Stephen Wise to craft a potential third Schumacher tale.

In Batman: Darknight, Bruce Wayne would've left Gotham behind after realising that his greatest weapon over his enemies, fear, had been lost - maybe they'd all seen Batman and Robin! Dick Grayson would've been at Gotham University, where a pre-Scarecrow Professor Jonathan Crane was using his students as guinea pigs to test out his fear toxins. The film would've also introduced Man-Bat, who would've been mistaken for the Caped Crusader gone bad, meaning the real thing would have to come out of retirement, restore his name and save the day.

The project fell apart when Warner Bros. considered an even cheaper option of bringing the Dark Knight back to the big screen...


4. Batman Beyond
The animated series ran for three seasons and was doing pretty well on TV, so in October 1999 a movie version was put into production. The TV show creators Paul Dini and Alan Burnet penned the script, and Boaz Yakin was hired as director. Creative differences saw the project never fully get off the ground, Warner Bros. still wanted a kid friendly Batman, whereas Yakin wanted to make a gritty profanity filled adult animated movie.

In August 2001 the project was officially canned in favour of another comic book adaptation...


5. Batman: Year One
In September 2000, Joel Schumacher attempted another Batman movie pitch. This time instead of an older Batman he wanted to go back to the start with Frank Miller’s classic Batman: Year One comic book as the source. His idea was to act as a prequel to the 1989 Tim Burton movie, so linking this film in with the ones that had gone before, and Warner loved the idea - however they didn't like the idea of Schumacher returning as director. So they hired Darren Aronofsky instead.

Once Batman Beyond was shelved names started to become attached to the project including both Ben Affleck and Christian Bale as possible Bruce Wayne's/Batman's, and Aaron Eckhart apparently attached as Jim Gordon.

Frank Miller was approached to adapt his comic book, and adapt it he did! Apparently his new script included Bruce Wayne as an orphan on the streets of Gotham, stripped of his fortune and taken in like Oliver Twist by an Alfred surrogate called Big Al, who ran an autoshop with his son, Little Al. Selina Kyle also featured as a young prostitute. Warner Bros. didn't like it, and decided to start from scratch again...


6. Batman: Year One (version two)
Unbeknown to Darren Aronofsky, Warner Bros. were attempting to lure the Wachowski's to the Batman project - they even wrote a script for their take on Batman: Year One. It was much more like Frank Miller's original comic book, and Warners were very pleased with it, so much so that it's likely this would've gone into production if the Wachowski's hadn't have got the green light to make the two Matrix sequels.

Still not 100% convinced with Aronofsky's project (which was currently being story boarded) Warner Bros. entertained another idea...


7. Batman vs Superman
I've written about this potential Wolfgang Peterson movie on the unmade Superman movies list, so I won't repeat it all again (you can read that article here), except for to say that Warner's went so far as to show Christian Bale the script in the hope he'd sign up. He said he much preferred Darren Aronofsky's treatment, but by the end of 2002 Aronofsky's days were numbered...


8. Batman: Year One (version three)
After Aronofsky project was shelved, Joss Whedon was approached to write and direct a new version of Year One. He would later reveal that his idea was similar in tone to Batman Begins, but admitted that his was "a bit less epic" and didn't focus as much on Bruce Wayne's traveling outside of Gotham.

Whedon also revealed that he had created a new villain for the movie, a Hannibal Lector type character who Wayne would've visited in Arkham Asylum to learn about the mind of a criminal. It was clearly a project dear to Whedon's heart:
"I get very emotional about it, I still love the story. Maybe I’ll get to do it as a comic one day."
As we all know, Warner Bros. didn't go for the treatment. Instead, in January 2003 they turned to a British writer/director who'd just had success with the film Memento. That man was Christopher Nolan, and the rest is movie history.

Previously
6 Unmade Live-Action Batman Projects
6 Unmade Superman Movies

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