TBU Five Things: Canceled Batman Projects

Sometimes people complain that there is too much Batman content out there in the world. Multiple cartoon titles, an animated show or another movie are always around the corner. There are always ideas for Batman and his world, and sometimes those ideas are not always made. For as much Bat content as we get, just as much is being canceled. Some of these Batman projects that we are going to talk about were canceled for the greater good and led to films that are universally praised. Some of them were also really interesting and could in an alternative reality have been a great piece of Bat media. It’s the return to TBU Five Things! And this time, we need to look at five canceled Batman-related projects.

# 1: The third Joel Schumacher movie

TBU Five Things: Canceled Batman Projects

Joel Schumacher was handed the keys to the Batman movie franchise to try to continue the success that Tim Burton had on Batman and Batman returns. Joel Schumacher released a good movie, not perfect, but good in Batman forever (I have a soft spot for it when I was eight when it came out and loved it – will not lie) and then followed it up with Batman and Robin. After watching the dailies from Batman and Robin with George Clooney as Batman and Chris O’Donnell as Robin, Warner Bros. greened. a third film by Joel Schumacher.

The movie was supposed to be called “Batman Unchained” or “Batman Triumphant”, and it was supposed to be Schumacher’s attempt to bring the dark tone back to Batman that the first two movies had. This time, Batman had to fight Scarecrow and Harley Quinn. Quinn was supposed to be the Joker’s daughter in this interaction. The Joker had to return in a hallucination because of Batman being gassed by a fear toxin. Clooney, O’Donnell and Alicia Silverstone were to repeat their roles as Gotham’s defenders. The rumors also had Nicolas Cage as a scarecrow.

Because of the abysmal reviews and commercial bomb that was Batman and Robin, the third Schumacher film became our first canceled Batman project that never got underway. It would have been interesting to see a darker Batman movie so soon after the camp and the overall silly nature that was Batman and Robin. Warner Bros. was able to use Scarecrow to bring Batman back to a darker, more serious tone Batman begins came to cinemas in 2005.

# 2: Darren Aronofsky’s Batman Year One

Batman: One year

In the early 2000s, Warner Bros. desperately tried to find a project for Batman to stink of Batman and Robin by them. They had approached the critically acclaimed director Darren Aronofsky to instruct a feature based on Batman: One year. The author of the classic story, Frank Miller, was to write the film.

Their goal was to restart the franchise completely. Aronofsky said that one should completely forget everything one knows about Batman as it would be brand new. He wanted Joaquin Phoenix as Bruce Wayne / Batman, but the studio favored Freddie Prinze Jr. Must love the studio!

It is said that this movie was extremely rude and violent. Ironically, Batman was rebooted using a movie based on the Year One story, and Phoenix would end up playing a version of the Joker in a movie that grossed over a billion dollars.

# 3: Batman vs. Superman

Batman vs. Superman

Long before Zack Snyder shared the internet with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, there were plans for a Batman and Superman team-up movie in the early 2000s. Akiva Goldsman, who wrote Batman forever and Batman and Robin, wrote a screenplay that made Bruce Wayne retire as Batman after the deaths of Alfred, Commissioner Gordon and Dick Grayson. Clark Kent is divorced from Lois Lane, but is asked by Bruce to be his best man, as Bruce intends to marry. The Joker kills Bruce’s wife on their honeymoon, and Bruce takes the cloak and cap on again with the intent to kill the Joker. Superman promises to stop him and the two fight over it. It is revealed that Lex Luthor is behind it all, and Batman and Superman team up to stop Lex. Josh Hartnett was contacted to play Superman, while Christian Bale was in talks to play Batman.

Some elements of this story came into the BvS years later, such as Lex pulling the strings behind the scenes to get Superman and Batman into battle. Out of all the canceled Batman projects on this list, this is the one that fascinates me the most. BvS was supposed to be the movie that set off a cinematic universe, while this movie was probably just going to be a one-and-done.

# 4: Bruce Wayne “Smallville”

Gotham Bruce Wayne

Depending on where you read about this show on the internet, this show should either come before Smallville or after the success of Smallville. If Smallville was about a teenager Clark Kent on his way to becoming Superman, then this show was going to be about a young Bruce Wayne on his way to becoming Batman. The proposed synopsis has some really cool, interesting ideas. Young Bruce tries to become a police officer, but sees that the system is broken. Bruce is kind to Harvey Dent and his sister Susan, with whom Bruce may have an affair (Harvey has a sister who has an affair with Bruce, is something we would later see in Batman: Earth One). Selina Kyle is also there as a potential love interest.

When Gotham was first announced, I thought we would get a show similar to this Smallville-type show. A teenage Bruce learns about why his parents were killed, and begins his training. Harvey and Selina are also there as teenagers. Gotham apparently went another way, but one Smallville-type shows still had great potential and could function even today.

# 5: Live-Action Batman Beyond

Batman Beyond

Post Batman and Robin and when Warner Bros. tried to restart Batman, they briefly considered doing a live action Batman Beyond. The idea was short-lived when the studio decided to move on Batman: One year project mentioned earlier. Batman Beyond was a popular cartoon around this time and is still part of Batman’s myth today. People of a certain generation consider Terry Mcginnis as their first Batman.

A live-action Batman Beyond could certainly work. I do not know how well it would have worked then given the sketchy CGI of the time, and how futuristic Gotham of Batman Beyond is. With Michael Keaton announced as Batman / Bruce Wayne in Bat girl HBO Max movie, that movie could have some Beyond vibes with the older Batman guiding a younger hero.

This is just a short list of potential Batman projects that were canceled. You can get lost in the depths of the internet by reading about all these movies, TV and video games. Just a few months ago, a canceled Batman video game hit the news. Somewhere in the multiverse, these projects happened instead of a Christopher Nolan movie. And just judging from researching these potential movies, let’s just say I’m glad we live in this universe.

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