Before Christopher Nolan relaunched the Batman franchise with Batman Begins, Warner Bros. had enlisted Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream) for an adaptation of Frank Miller’s classic Batman: Year One, with Miller himself helping to pen the script.
Aronofsky’s plan was to “toss out everything you can imagine about Batman” and start afresh, with the duo collaborating on a dark and gritty script that would have seen a radical departure from the traditional Dark Knight continuity, and one which ultimately proved too dark for Warner Bros., who pulled the plug on the project.
During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Frank Miller has spoken about his work on the project, stating that:
“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.”
Aronofsky’s Year One would have seen the orphaned Bruce Wayne disappearing after the murder of his parents, only to be raised in a seedy part of town by a garage mechanic called ‘Big Al’. Developing an intense anger growing up surrounded by pimps, prostitutes and low-lifes, Bruce would then unleash the ‘Bat-Man’ on the criminal element of Gotham City, teaming up with a suicidal, alcoholic, serial-womanising Jim Gordon on a quest to take down the corrupt Police Commissioner Loeb and reclaim his family fortune.