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Joss Whedon shares about his Batman film that might have been

05.03.2012

Joss Whedon orange shirt

GQ is currently running an extraordinarily insightful piece on the genesis of Joss Whedon and how he came to finally be where he is now, and while the piece as a whole is one of the most worthwhile articles I've read in a long time there was one particular tidbit buried in there that I think is well worth sharing.

Originally, before Nolan came along, Whedon was working to develop his own post-Schumacher take on Batman.  And part of that take would have involved a small but fascinating addition to the classic mythos wherein a young Bruce Wayne tries to protect a girl from being bullied in an alley that bears a striking similarity to the one in which his parents were murdered.

Batman Begins dead parents

"And he's like this tiny 12-year-old who's about to get the shit kicked out of him. And then it cuts to Wayne Manor, and Alfred is running like something terrible has happened, and he finds Bruce, and he's back from the fight, and he's completely fine. And Bruce is like, 'I stopped them. I can stop them.' That was the moment for me. When he goes 'Oh, wait a minute; I can actually do something about this.' The moment he gets that purpose, instead of just sort of being overwhelmed by the grief of his parents' death."

I know that I really like that, but what about you? Is it too on the nose, or would that bit of expansion on the classic story that we all know have opened up a whole new world of possibilities for the direction of DC's Caped Crusader? 

Whedon writers chart

Extra Tidbit: Speaking of "Caped Crusader," Neil Gaiman's comic "Whatever Happened To the Caped Crusader?" is an absolutely brilliant read.
Source: GQ

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8:08AM on 05/04/2012

think about it.

you guys are thinking that a 12 year old boy its gonna start using martial arts,and kick the crap out of people.but think about it,maybe Bruce did get his ass kicked,but in the process he was able to stop the bullies.thats what Whedon is trying to convey,not the fact that all of a sudden hes gonna be Batman.bruce realizes he can do something and thats the beginning.remember also,he and Nolan are different directors with different views,so think about it.
you guys are thinking that a 12 year old boy its gonna start using martial arts,and kick the crap out of people.but think about it,maybe Bruce did get his ass kicked,but in the process he was able to stop the bullies.thats what Whedon is trying to convey,not the fact that all of a sudden hes gonna be Batman.bruce realizes he can do something and thats the beginning.remember also,he and Nolan are different directors with different views,so think about it.
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2:00AM on 05/04/2012
That's alright, but if WB really were to hand the franchise over to him after Nolan, I'd prefer if he didn't start back over from the beginning again. Maybe not pick up the same story, but do something more in the vein of "The Incredible Hulk", where we're reminded of the origin and that fact that this is its own storyline in the prologue, and then it moves on to the real story.
That's alright, but if WB really were to hand the franchise over to him after Nolan, I'd prefer if he didn't start back over from the beginning again. Maybe not pick up the same story, but do something more in the vein of "The Incredible Hulk", where we're reminded of the origin and that fact that this is its own storyline in the prologue, and then it moves on to the real story.
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7:53PM on 05/03/2012
Isn't the whole point of Batman that he trained to be the best fighter, not that he has some innate ability?
Isn't the whole point of Batman that he trained to be the best fighter, not that he has some innate ability?
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6:21PM on 05/03/2012
Wasn't there a similar scene in Daredevil, where kid Matt Murdock beats up a group of bullies? Whedon is awesome and its a good scene, but you could tweak it and apply it to almost any superhero for a moment when he first realizes he can confront and defeat villians.
Wasn't there a similar scene in Daredevil, where kid Matt Murdock beats up a group of bullies? Whedon is awesome and its a good scene, but you could tweak it and apply it to almost any superhero for a moment when he first realizes he can confront and defeat villians.
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2:07PM on 05/03/2012
I love how Whedon handled the Avengers, but I'm not liking his take on Batman. The whole point behind Batman is that he's not like other superheroes who get an epiphany or are bitten by radioactive spiders and bestowed with awesome superpowers. Most other superheroes are somewhat forced into that world, and they either become heroes or turn into villains. Batman is a process by itself. He struggles with his decisions, morals, and principles. He's fueled by vengeance, but he also carries the
I love how Whedon handled the Avengers, but I'm not liking his take on Batman. The whole point behind Batman is that he's not like other superheroes who get an epiphany or are bitten by radioactive spiders and bestowed with awesome superpowers. Most other superheroes are somewhat forced into that world, and they either become heroes or turn into villains. Batman is a process by itself. He struggles with his decisions, morals, and principles. He's fueled by vengeance, but he also carries the principles of his father with him, and that creates internal turmoil. That's why Nolan's films are fantastic, because there's progression and evolution from Batman Begins to The Dark Knight and now The Dark Knight Rises. Batman doesn't have the luxury of surety via some responsibility or superpower. He's as human as human can get, and that's what f**ks with him most of the time. So a 12-year old boy suddenly realizing he can open a can of whoop-ass doesn't really scream Batman to me.
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3:14PM on 05/03/2012
All the things you said about him are not erased with the scene described.
All the things you said about him are not erased with the scene described.
3:21AM on 05/04/2012
Dude, his parents died and one day as an adult, he saw a bat ans said" I can use what scares me to scare criminals".

BAM! Epiphany, WHAT?!
Dude, his parents died and one day as an adult, he saw a bat ans said" I can use what scares me to scare criminals".

BAM! Epiphany, WHAT?!
5:23AM on 05/04/2012
Not really. Bruce has always been out to seek revenge, he just needed a push in the right direction. "The Bat Incident" was that push. Even then, there's a conflict between "should I exert justice via any means possible, or should I do it within the confines of the principles that will make my parents proud?". Plus, Bruce trains like a crazy person to acquire those skills. And he does that because he feels weak and powerless. Being able to go ninja all over a grown-ass punk at 12 isn't really
Not really. Bruce has always been out to seek revenge, he just needed a push in the right direction. "The Bat Incident" was that push. Even then, there's a conflict between "should I exert justice via any means possible, or should I do it within the confines of the principles that will make my parents proud?". Plus, Bruce trains like a crazy person to acquire those skills. And he does that because he feels weak and powerless. Being able to go ninja all over a grown-ass punk at 12 isn't really weak and powerless, y'know what I mean?
+1
1:54PM on 05/03/2012
I think that's a great scene. I always like when good creative minds have their take on something like comics or books. It's interesting to see what they can come up with for an established mythos. A Whedon Batman would be interesting, though I am very happy with Nolan having had the series.
I think that's a great scene. I always like when good creative minds have their take on something like comics or books. It's interesting to see what they can come up with for an established mythos. A Whedon Batman would be interesting, though I am very happy with Nolan having had the series.
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+3
1:39PM on 05/03/2012
Not bad. I would have liked to know more about Whedon´s take on "Wonder Woman", which he was developing at one point. I bet the guys at DC and Warner Bros. do kick themselfes for letting Whedon go. If not, they should!
Not bad. I would have liked to know more about Whedon´s take on "Wonder Woman", which he was developing at one point. I bet the guys at DC and Warner Bros. do kick themselfes for letting Whedon go. If not, they should!
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1:19PM on 05/03/2012
HA! Who's the waste of space clearing his cookies every 10 seconds just to neg me, Guy, and cerealkiller? I guess you gotta do something to fill the hours between Hot Pockets.
HA! Who's the waste of space clearing his cookies every 10 seconds just to neg me, Guy, and cerealkiller? I guess you gotta do something to fill the hours between Hot Pockets.
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-1
11:28AM on 05/03/2012

not bad

I think that scene would've worked... I wasn't even aware he had even been linked to a batman film
I think that scene would've worked... I wasn't even aware he had even been linked to a batman film
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+11
11:24AM on 05/03/2012

Nice to hear Whedon's take, but... not for me

For me i like what Nolan did in regards to Wayne's acceptance, and acknowledgement of his role to be played. That experience for a 12 year old boy to accept, and grasp that he should become a caped crusader is just a little too overwhelming for a young child. Not even that, Nolan realizes that this moment is key, and he focuses on it, from seeing the murder of Joe Chill. then Nolan's takes it further by having Wayne lectured by Rachel, then again that sit down with Falcone where he really
For me i like what Nolan did in regards to Wayne's acceptance, and acknowledgement of his role to be played. That experience for a 12 year old boy to accept, and grasp that he should become a caped crusader is just a little too overwhelming for a young child. Not even that, Nolan realizes that this moment is key, and he focuses on it, from seeing the murder of Joe Chill. then Nolan's takes it further by having Wayne lectured by Rachel, then again that sit down with Falcone where he really accepts, and commits to what he must do. Half of Batman begins is about, and showing Bruce's convictions. Especially when he stands up to Ra's, and Ducard in his refuels to murder, a murderer.

A 12 year old boy saving a young girl in a similar alley, and that being the conception of batman is a little tough to grasp. This message needs more, its complex to grasp, Especially for a child. I like that Nolan had Batman's conception at an older age, when understanding the world is more likely.

The origin story that Nolan did is the only reason i like his take over Burton's. He understood what batman truly stands for, and what his principles are. Not compromising them, even in the face of true evil.
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-9
11:12AM on 05/03/2012

I like it.

I don't understand the bitching, the first thing Ra's Al Ghul taught Bruce at the start of Begins is that Bruce needs "the will to act"....... this is the exact same thing except Bruce discovers it on his own first before seeking out his training.
I don't understand the bitching, the first thing Ra's Al Ghul taught Bruce at the start of Begins is that Bruce needs "the will to act"....... this is the exact same thing except Bruce discovers it on his own first before seeking out his training.
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11:08AM on 05/03/2012

He gets it

Too many iterations of the Batman have assumed he's acting out of revenge & grief for his parents. He's not. That would make him an anti-hero a la Punisher.

He fights for justice. He hands criminal over to the police for due process, he'll always put saving lives over getting the bad guy, and even his worst enemies he goes to extraordinary lengths to spare their lives. He's a hero.

So that idea Whedon had was the right one. At some point in the aftermath of his parents' murder, Bruce
Too many iterations of the Batman have assumed he's acting out of revenge & grief for his parents. He's not. That would make him an anti-hero a la Punisher.

He fights for justice. He hands criminal over to the police for due process, he'll always put saving lives over getting the bad guy, and even his worst enemies he goes to extraordinary lengths to spare their lives. He's a hero.

So that idea Whedon had was the right one. At some point in the aftermath of his parents' murder, Bruce gets past his grief and finds a positive. The Nolan movies had this happen for him at around age 20...when he sees Joe Chill murdered and goes on his 'walkabout.' But it could just as easily have happened in the Nolan films when he's a kid.

I'd actually like the idea of a Joss Whedon Batman film with the tone and feel of something like the 'Hush' storyline. Where all the villains and allies of Batman have been established and there's a mystery story within that world. If anyone could bring characters like Nightwing, Oracle, Jason Todd, Huntress, Harley Quinn to life on the bigscreen it would be Whedon.
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11:06AM on 05/03/2012
This comment section baffles. They'll watch a movie where Nolan gives a reason to every decision Bruce has ever made on his way to being Batman, but when Whedon tries to explain the moment Bruce stops being a cry-baby paralyzed by grief and becomes a hero fueled by grief they start having a problem with it.

Note to Bat-writers: Don't attempt to fill the gap between Bruce's parents death and his adolescent globe-trotting. It's like Jesus, he's born and then suddenly he's a 30 year old
This comment section baffles. They'll watch a movie where Nolan gives a reason to every decision Bruce has ever made on his way to being Batman, but when Whedon tries to explain the moment Bruce stops being a cry-baby paralyzed by grief and becomes a hero fueled by grief they start having a problem with it.

Note to Bat-writers: Don't attempt to fill the gap between Bruce's parents death and his adolescent globe-trotting. It's like Jesus, he's born and then suddenly he's a 30 year old healing lepers. You get the picture.
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11:09AM on 05/03/2012
agreed
agreed
11:04AM on 05/03/2012
It's a great scene, but not for a 12 year-old Bruce Wayne. It would make a good opening for when Bruce as an adult decides to take up the mantle of Batman. I could even see that scene in Batman Begins happening before Bruce gets his fancy suit.
It's a great scene, but not for a 12 year-old Bruce Wayne. It would make a good opening for when Bruce as an adult decides to take up the mantle of Batman. I could even see that scene in Batman Begins happening before Bruce gets his fancy suit.
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10:06AM on 05/03/2012
So all because of one incident, a 12 YEAR OLD thinks he can fight and become a superhero......That would have been stupid.
So all because of one incident, a 12 YEAR OLD thinks he can fight and become a superhero......That would have been stupid.
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10:57AM on 05/03/2012
Its a story about an adult who dresses like a bat, I think it would far from stupid, especially considering Batman Begins was just a series of epiphanies to justify Bruce's actions and decisions, a moment of clarity as a child that he isn't powerless would work quite well.
Its a story about an adult who dresses like a bat, I think it would far from stupid, especially considering Batman Begins was just a series of epiphanies to justify Bruce's actions and decisions, a moment of clarity as a child that he isn't powerless would work quite well.
1:03PM on 05/03/2012
Yes, I know him dressing up as a bat is stupid, but it's something everyone accepts because we know he does that. The Begins origin is totally different than this one because he didn't make the decision to become a skilled fighter. Yes, he fought people, but Ra's trained him and that was as an adult. Not when he was 12. Also Begins' origin had more meaning because his parents death drove him to madness in a way that lead him to fighting. Then he was trained and wanted to do good. Nolan's origin
Yes, I know him dressing up as a bat is stupid, but it's something everyone accepts because we know he does that. The Begins origin is totally different than this one because he didn't make the decision to become a skilled fighter. Yes, he fought people, but Ra's trained him and that was as an adult. Not when he was 12. Also Begins' origin had more meaning because his parents death drove him to madness in a way that lead him to fighting. Then he was trained and wanted to do good. Nolan's origin story had more meaning.
3:12PM on 05/03/2012
I see no meaning, just a different timeline. This scene doesn't imply he woke up one day as a 12 year old and said "Hey I'll be Batman." All this implies is that he realized he can channel the anger and sadness into something else. It changes his motivations from "running from the problem" to "running to a solution" which is decidedly more in tune with the character. I mean I wouldn't trade Whedon for Nolan on Whedon's best day, but let us not pretend like this was the story point that would
I see no meaning, just a different timeline. This scene doesn't imply he woke up one day as a 12 year old and said "Hey I'll be Batman." All this implies is that he realized he can channel the anger and sadness into something else. It changes his motivations from "running from the problem" to "running to a solution" which is decidedly more in tune with the character. I mean I wouldn't trade Whedon for Nolan on Whedon's best day, but let us not pretend like this was the story point that would bring the whole mythos down.
10:06AM on 05/03/2012

Wehdon, stay away from Batman!

Whedon is talented, I can give him that, but his idea for Bruce being this person who all of the sudden realizes he can naturally kick ass just doesn't present the darker element that the character is known for. It's standard that Bruce is fueled by grief after witnessing his parents getting murdered in front of him.
Whedon is talented, I can give him that, but his idea for Bruce being this person who all of the sudden realizes he can naturally kick ass just doesn't present the darker element that the character is known for. It's standard that Bruce is fueled by grief after witnessing his parents getting murdered in front of him.
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10:59AM on 05/03/2012
Well, from my understanding it's not so much that he suddenly realizes he can "naturally kick ass," but rather he realizes that he can actively do something in response to the tragedy he has witnessed. To learn something at a such a young age would then cause Bruce to be driven that much more in his unending quest.
Well, from my understanding it's not so much that he suddenly realizes he can "naturally kick ass," but rather he realizes that he can actively do something in response to the tragedy he has witnessed. To learn something at a such a young age would then cause Bruce to be driven that much more in his unending quest.
10:04AM on 05/03/2012
Joss Whedon is a fantastic writer/director, but he's very much got a style of his own, and it isn't one that's conducive to Batman. It was perfect for X-Men (he wrote GREAT run of the series) as well as The Avengers, franchises that are action-packed, bright, and laced with humor as well as darkness. I just don't see him being able to pull off the overwhelmingly grim tone Batman needs to strike.

As for his "alley fight" scene, I kinda hate it... It's completely lacking in subtlety and
Joss Whedon is a fantastic writer/director, but he's very much got a style of his own, and it isn't one that's conducive to Batman. It was perfect for X-Men (he wrote GREAT run of the series) as well as The Avengers, franchises that are action-packed, bright, and laced with humor as well as darkness. I just don't see him being able to pull off the overwhelmingly grim tone Batman needs to strike.

As for his "alley fight" scene, I kinda hate it... It's completely lacking in subtlety and nuance and yes, it hits the point right on the nose, but it also would have his the audience right on the nose. Whedon is a talented enough writer that I'm confident, had he made Batman, this scene NEVER would have been in the final cut. He knows better than that.
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+12
9:53AM on 05/03/2012
Whedon puts out great stuff but I don't like the idea of him tinkering with the origin of Batman. The Batman we all know is one who is all-consumed by the death of his parents and never truly recovered from it and turned that inner fear and helplessness that he felt onto the criminals of Gotham. Joss's Batman wouldn't have had that element which could have significantly changed the character as he grew up. It's a huge thing to be young and to know you can beat anyone's ass than to be young and
Whedon puts out great stuff but I don't like the idea of him tinkering with the origin of Batman. The Batman we all know is one who is all-consumed by the death of his parents and never truly recovered from it and turned that inner fear and helplessness that he felt onto the criminals of Gotham. Joss's Batman wouldn't have had that element which could have significantly changed the character as he grew up. It's a huge thing to be young and to know you can beat anyone's ass than to be young and feel totally helpless but through your life learn to overcome that.
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