It’s the late 1990s, and Batman and Robin has just come out to a less-than-favorable reception from critics and the public. Darren Aronofsky was just coming off the success of his 1998 movie Pi and had a pitch for Warner Bros. In an interview with Yahoo Movies, Aronofsky talked about how he pitched an R-rated adaptation of Batman: Year One:
“It’s funny, I think we were just sort of out of time with our idea. I understood that [with] comics, there’s room for all different types of titles, but I think Hollywood at that time was still in the Golden Age of comics, and they were still just doing the classic titles in classic ways.”
He was very ahead of his time, since there was no way the Warner Bros. of the late ’90s would have green lit a R-rated Batman movie. They probably would now, but not back then. They also probably wouldn’t have been OK with his casting choice, but it’s fascinating now:
“I always wanted Joaquin Phoenix for Batman.”
If Deadpool proved anything, it is that there is an audience for R-rated comic book movies that deal with superheroes. Aronofsky was way ahead of his time in that aspect, and it’s probably too late to see his version of Year One now:
“I think audiences now, they’ve seen enough comic films that they’re game for that. So I think we were a little bit out of time for our idea.”
We’ll probably see a Year One adaptation someday. It’s a very popular story and well liked among comic book fans. Whether or not we’ll see Aronofsky behind the wheel of that adaptation is another story.