After Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin literally killed the Batman franchise in 1997, and before Warner Bros. signed Christopher Nolan to direct 2005’s Batman Begins, the studio looked at several directors who would be able to reboot Batman. Darren Aronofsky, who at that time was known for his directorial debut Pi and the Requiem for a Dream, was among the candidates.
Various outlets reported that Aronofsky’s Batman was to be an origin story that drew its inspiration from the Batman: Year One story arc. Taking into account the director’s previous efforts, it’s safe to say that it would have been an even darker and grittier Batman than we’ve since since that time.
Warner Bros. did choose Christopher Nolan, but there were reports that he borrowed some elements from the Aronofsky pitch. Thanks to an interview with First Showing, we know that the studio’s still peeking at his notes.
In addition to following Aronofsky’s lead by casting Ben Affleck as a middle-aged Bruce Wayne/Batman, Zack Snyder borrowed his concept of a vigilante who brands wrongdoers:
Some of my ideas got out there through other films. Like the ring with BW. Bruce Wayne’s ring making the scar was our idea, and I think that was in Zack’s or something. Which is fine; you write these ideas and they get out.
Aronofsky added that the new Joker origin film appears to match what he wanted to do with his Batman flick:
You know what, I think it’s finally…I think we were basically, whatever it is, fifteen years too early. Because I hear the way they’re talking about the Joker movie, and that’s exactly…that was my pitch. I was like, “We’re going to shoot in East Detroit and East New York. We’re not building Gotham.” I wanted The Batmobile to be a Lincoln Continental with two bus engines in it…With two bus engines, all duct taped together. It was the Duct Tape MacGyver Batman.
According to the official Joker origin film announcement, Martin Scorsese was approached to produce. The movie was supposed to be a crime movie in the vein of Scorsese’s movies from the 1970s, specifically Mean Streets and Taxi Driver. According to Aronofsky:
We were all about reinventing it and trying to make it more Taxi Driver visceral. That was the whole pitch. But the toy people were like, “Oh it can’t be a Lincoln Continental. You have to make a Batmobile.”
So far, there’s been no word about stars or a release date for the Joker origin movie. But for the time being, head to the theater to check out Darren Aronofsky’s critically acclaimed Mother! starring Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, and Michelle Pfeiffer.