Both the director and star of new drama movie The Whale have had their own brushes with DC, and specifically Batman, in the past. We were supposed to have been enjoying Brendan Fraser playing Batman villain Firefly in HBO Max movie Batgirl before the end of 2022, but then Warner Bros cruelly scrapped the movie and deprived us of this.
“It’s tragic,” Fraser recently told Variety. “It doesn’t engender trust among filmmakers and the studio. Leslie Grace was fantastic. She’s a dynamo, just a spot-on performer. Everything that we shot was real and exciting and just the antithesis of doing a straightforward digital all green-screen thing. They ran firetrucks around downtown Glasgow at three in the morning and they had flamethrowers. It was a big-budget movie, but one that was just stripped down to the essentials.”
And he’s not the only one. Director Darren Aronofsky had his own take on Batman prepared, which ended up coming to nothing. In the early 2000s, Aronofsky was planning to make a movie version of Frank Miller’s acclaimed Dark Knight story, Batman: Year One.
“It was after Batman & Robin, the Joel Schumacher one,” Aronofsky remembers. “That had been a big hiccup back then at Warner Bros, so I pitched them a rated-R, boiled down origin story of Batman. A rated-R superhero movie was probably 10 to 15 years out of whack with the reality of the business then.”
Aronofsky worked with Miller on the script, and submitted an early version to Warner Bros. “It had promise, but it was just a first draft,” he says. “The studio weren’t really interested. It was a very different take.” Batman of course has only got darker and darker over the years, with Christopher Nolan and Matt Reeves’ takes, plus the R-rated Joker.
“I think it’s great,” Aronofsky says. “I was always saying, ‘why can’t there be several different types of comic book movies out there.’ Now there are. It’s just our timing was off.”
While we wait to see if Batman: Year One ever does get a live-action adaptation, check out our guide to the best Batman actors.