Darren Aronofsky’s Batman was nixed due to casting of Joaquin Phoenix

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

Darren Aronofsky, Batman, Joaquin Phoenix

Once upon a time, PI and REQUIEM FOR A DREAM director Darren Aronofsky was hoping to launch his own superhero spectacle for Warner Bros. and DC titled BATMAN: YEAR ONE, based on the classic comic written by Frank Miller with art by David Mazzucchelli. It's a story that countless Bat-fans would love to see represented up on the big screen, though according to Aronofsky, the studio nixed the project when the director expressed interest in having Academy Award-winning actor Joaquin Phoenix suit up as Bruce Wayne/Batman for the Dark Knight's early adventure.

“The studio wanted Freddie Prinze Jr and I wanted Joaquin Phoenix,” Aronofsky told Empire“I remember thinking, ‘Uh oh, we’re making two different films here.’ That’s a true story. It was a different time. The Batman I wrote was definitely a way different type of take than they ended up making.”

I must say that Freddie Prinze Jr. feels like a bold choice on the studio's behalf, especially when Aronofsky's film would have carried a 1970s crime film flavor, like DEATH WISH, THE FRENCH CONNECTION or TAXI DRIVER. I just don't see Prinze Jr. fitting that mold. Do you?

It strikes me as a real shame that we never got to see Aronofsky's BATMAN: YEAR ONE, as it sounds like the movie would have been legit as hell. I say this because the director had even brought Miller onto the project to help pen the script. “It was an amazing thing because I was a big fan of his graphic novel work,” Aronofsky expressed to the outlet. “So just getting to meet him was exciting back then.” According to Aronofsky, Miller was “shocked” by how visceral and gritty the director's take on the classic story would have been. While we don't know much about Aronofsky's version, the director has said that it would have "veered into torture territory."

Torture territory, you say? That doesn't sound very Batman-like to me, but then again perhaps the torturing would have been performed by the film's villain – which is something that I can totally see going down within the darkest depths of Gotham City.

Are you upset that we never got to see Aronofsky's version of BATMAN: YEAR ONE? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Source: Empire Magazine

About the Author

Born and raised in New York, then immigrated to Canada, Steve Seigh has been a JoBlo.com editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. He started with Ink & Pixel, a column celebrating the magic and evolution of animation, before launching the companion YouTube series Animation Movies Revisited. He's also the host of the Talking Comics Podcast, a personality-driven audio show focusing on comic books, film, music, and more. You'll rarely catch him without headphones on his head and pancakes on his breath.