What The Film?! is a weekly column exclusive to Under The Gun Review that brings to light the plot holes Hollywood hoped you’d never notice. Written by comedy writer Dane Sager, this column shows no mercy to films that try and pull the proverbial wool over our eyes.
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This Week’s Film: Batman Epilogue (The Batman Movies That Almost Were)
This past Friday, the conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Batman saga was released, ending his real-world Batman continuity. Warner Brothers has been vocal about their decision to reboot the franchise that first popularized the reboot concept, and while the inevitable Batman that gets created to fit into the same continuity as 2011′s Green Lantern (to lead into a Justice League movie) will most likely be awful, there is nothing that can take away the epic three part story that we’ve been given. Warner Brothers took a huge gamble giving their biggest property at the time to a director who had only one major release go over $100 million before signing on to Batman. It wasn’t a clear choice for them, and I’m going to go over the horrendous Batman movies that almost got made instead of 2005′s Batman Begins.
Want to know something that Warner Brothers probably doesn’t want you to hear? They were really happy with what they saw in 1997′s Batman & Robin. Before the movie even came out, they hired Batman Forever/Batman & Robin’s director Joel Schumacher to make a third Batman movie. When approaching Batman Forever/Batman & Robin’s writer Akiva Goldsman, he shot them down and didn’t want to return, so WB hired Mark Protosevich to script the fifth Batman movie. Joel Schumacher wanted to do an adaptation of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, but WB insisted on creating another family-friendly toy selling painful experience.
Batman Triumphant, similar to Batman Begins, had Scarecrow as the villain and had Harley Quinn showing up in her first live action role as the Joker’s daughter. Harley Quinn would have been playing a head-henchman type role to Scarecrow, the same way Bane was turned into a mindless henchman for Poison Ivy in Batman & Robin.
Scarecrow would poison Batman with his fear-gas, causing him to hallucinate The Joker in several sequences. George Clooney, Chris O’Donnell, and Alicia Silverstone were all signed on to return and Jack Nicholson was set to return as the Joker from 1989′s Batman. Joel Schumacher wanted Madonna to play Harley Quinn and… Nicolas Cage as Scarecrow.
WB was so excited about Batman & Robin that all of this was set up before it even came out. It wasn’t till Batman & Robin bombed at the box office and received near universal negative reviews (12% on Rotten Tomatoes) that WB canceled and buried Batman Triumphant. Schumacher approached WB to retool his third Batman movie into another Frank Miller adaptation, the origin story Batman: Year One. Shumacher told the studio of his desire to create “a real Batman movie. I would go back to the basics and make a dark portrayal of The Dark Knight”.
WB shot him down and decided to go with a live-action version of the animated television show Batman Beyond, a futuristic version of Batman where an aging Bruce Wayne is a mentor to a new teenage Batman. They hired Paul Dini, a writer for Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, and Batman Beyond to write the script. This way WB could make a Batman sequel that was in continuity with their Bat-movies but at the same time distance themselves.
Batman: The DarKnight.
As awesome as the idea of a live-action Batman Beyond, WB changed their mind once again, deciding to go with a script written by Lee Shapiro. Shapiro’s script was basically the exact same thing as Batman Triumphant, except it replaced Harley Quinn with Man-Bat. Batman had retired at this point and had to clear his name after Man-Bat’s crimes sully the Batman name.
Batman: The DarKnight had a few ideas that made it into Batman Begins, such as having Scarecrow as a villain and using his job at Arkham Asylum to test his fear gas on the inmates. Scarecrow’s experiments cause a college to become Man-Bat and Gotham think Batman has returned as a killer/criminal. WB decided this wasn’t a good movie idea either.
Batman: Year One
Warner Brothers, wanting to put salt in Joel Schumacher’s wound, decided at this point to do an adaption of Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One. They even hired Frank Miller himself to write the script. Now, this is before Frank Miller did All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, so it was still a big deal. They hired Darren Aronofsky (who directed 2000′s Requiem For a Dream, 2010′s Black Swan, and 2010′s The Fighter) to direct.
In his loose adaptation of his own book, Bruce Wayne runs off into the streets after his parents are killed, seeking refuge in a mechanic’s shop run by “Big Al”. Bruce dons a hockey mask and runs out to fight crime, killing people leaving bat-shaped cuts in their flesh from the ring on his hand. No billionaire. No bat-suit. Killing. Warner Brothers decided to pass on this again.
Batman Vs Superman
After the “success” of Freddy Vs Jason, Warner Brothers decided to create a Batman Vs Superman movie which would also be a direct family-friendly sequel to Batman & Robin. In it, Batman comes out of retirement because he blames his fiance’s death on the inaction of Superman. The studio didn’t turn this down because of how awful it would be, but actually turned it down because they wanted to do a movie where Superman was taken seriously. Yes, the Warner Brothers turned down a campy movie because they felt it was too upbeat for Superman. Though they shot it down and ultimately went with Christopher Nolan’s excellent Batman Begins, Warner Brothers did like the idea of a Batman Vs Superman movie and seriously considered it, going further into pre-production than any other prior idea. But it’s not like they put out advertisements for it in anticipation for it.
Everytime Dane walks in the club, they hatin’ on him because you know he looks good. His hair done right, his dress looks tight, all eyes on him, he took the night. You can follow him on Twitter and Tumblr!