Frank Miller and Darren Aronofsky almost made a Batman movie. A would-be legendary duo, the comic book writer who transformed Batman (and Daredevil) into grittier material and the director responsible for the heart-bender Requiem For a Dream and the mind-bender The Fountain worked together on the rather loose film adaptation of Miller’s massively influential Batman: Year One.
According to a (quite terrific) interview in The Hollywood Reporter, Miller talks about how he and Aronofsky collaborated on the screenplay in the early 2000s, which would’ve been the 180 modern-day turn the Batman franchise needed after the spoiled ice cream truck spill that was Batman and Robin. But as the controversial comic book writer explains, Aronofsky was on another level when it came to the brutality.
MILLER: 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.
It’s pretty wild to know someone was down to go darker than Miller, who some think turned Batman into a fascist, a point not lost on the writer.
MILLER: Anybody who thinks Batman was fascist should study their politics. The Dark Knight, if anything, would be a libertarian. The fascists tell people how to live. Batman just tells criminals to stop.
Ultimately, the Miller-Aronofsky cinematic tale was lost to the bin of jaw-dropping comic book film adaptation what-ifs and almosts, along with the Tim Burton-directed, Kevin Smith-written, Nicolas Cage-starring Superman Lives. But that Dark Knight tale could’ve really been something surreal and epic, as /Film points out. There’s still the chance Miller makes good on his shrug-off response that “maybe [he] will” turn it into a graphic novel. Here’s hoping.