BATMAN: YEAR ONE - 10 Things You Never Knew About Darren Aronofsky's Brutal Canceled Film

Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan) once teamed with Frank Miller (The Dark Knight Returns) to adapt Batman: Year One. It never happened, so we've rounded up 10 incredible facts about the unfilmed project!

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After Batman & Robin disappointed, it was clear a new direction was needed for the Caped Crusader's franchise. Warner Bros. went through quite a few iterations, with one of the most noteworthy being Batman: Year One from director Darren Aronofsky and writer Frank Miller. 

Adapting the latter's acclaimed comic of the same name sounds like a guaranteed recipe for success.

However, both Aronofsky and Miller decided to take some huge liberties with the source material, with a homeless Bruce Wayne, a suicidal Jim Gordon, an unexpected villain, and violence that will make you wince (if you thought Ben Affleck's Batman was brutal, you ain't seen nothin' yet). 

This might have been a fun film, so we thought you'd dig a deep dive into what it might have looked like with 10 things we're pretty sure you never knew about Batman: Year One...

10. A Massively Different Take On Catwoman


Batman's had many a love interest over the years, but Selina Kyle remains the most iconic. That dynamic was explored by Matt Reeves in The Batman, and Aronofsky had similar plans.

Well, kinda. 

In Year One, Selina was to be depicted as a prostitute and dominatrix who works under the name Mistress Selina. Depicted as an African-American woman, she was to be one of the first people Batman saved. However, the script depicts her knocking the hero out, and leaving him next to the dead body of the corrupt cop who'd been beating her before the vigilante intervened.

Inspired by Batman, Selina later dons her own costume, and soon grows close to the man who once saved her. 

9. Homeless Bruce Wayne


In the comics, Bruce Wayne's parents are gunned down in front of him, leaving the family butler, Alfred Pennyworth, to raise the boy. 

There was no Alfred in Aronofsky's plans, however, and poor Bruce would have been left penniless and homeless in the wake of Thomas and Martha Wayne's brutal murder. With no fortune at his disposal, Bruce's dynamic was massively different in this film, as was his transformation into Batman. 

Everyone knows the Dark Knight's origin story, so Aronofsky deserves some kudos for trying to shake things up. 

Bruce wouldn't stay on the streets for long, however, as he'd find a new mentor in car repair shop owner, Little Al...

8. "Little Al," Batman's New Mentor


Before being inspired to fight crime by his encounter with Mistress Selina, Bruce would have crossed paths with Little Al. 

The owner of a car repair shop, he'd have taken the orphan under his wing, and was set to be portrayed by an African-American actor. Bruce becomes well-versed in mechanics, and it's with Al's help that he manages to build the Batmobile. 

A Lincoln Continental, this "Batmobile" had an exposed school bus engine, and doesn't sound all that different from the vehicle we saw Robert Pattinson's Caped Crusader take control of in The Batman

Al was obviously meant to be a surrogate for Alfred, and while he didn't have any fighting experience, he clearly helped this Bruce come up with his weaponry and vehicle. 

7. Learning To Fight


With no fortune to lean back on, Bruce Wayne obviously could travel the world to hone his skills. 

He's an orphan taken under the wing of a working class mechanic, so heading overseas to be trained by the likes of Ra's al Ghul was understandably not part of this screenplay for Year One

Instead, Bruce read books about combat, learning from those, and practising for hours afterwards. We're not entirely sure that's the best way to become an expert fighter, but Aronofsky was clearly determined to ground this story in reality, and make Batman a self-made vigilante. 

By now, we know why Bruce becomes Batman, but the how is another story altogether. 

6. The Birth Of The Bat-Man


The brothel Mistress Selina worked in was not only within Bruce's eyeline from his home with Little Al, but also based in the now dilapidated theater he visited with his parents before their murder.

Inspired to now protect his home, Bruce finally opens the one thing his father left him: a silver signet ring in an envelope with the initials "T.W." on it.

Beating up a criminal, that ring leaves a mark which looks a little like a bat on the crook's face, earning the vigilant the "Bat-Man" moniker. Like his comic book counterpart, he dons a costume in an effort to strike fear into those who target the innocents in Gotham City. 

As weird as this film sometimes gets, this sounds like a pretty decent origin story!

5. Extreme Violence


If what we've told you about Year One reminds you of anything, it should be 2019's Joker

Tonally, it sounds extremely similar, while the extremely grounded, realistic take on Batman's creation sounds a lot like something you'd expect to see in the world Todd Phillips created.

The script was definitely R-Rated, and not even "Bat-Man" himself emerges unscathed. In one early fight, his teeth are knocked out, forcing the wannabe vigilante to wear dentures for the rest of the film. 

The main source of Batman's frustrations is GCPD Commissioner Gillian Loeb, a corrupt cop who secretly rules over Gotham City's criminals...and stole Bruce's fortune.

4. The Film's Villain


Loeb is a character from the Batman: Year One comic, but uses his influence here to take everything that belongs to the Wayne family (hence why poor Bruce ends up on the streets). 

There are no colorful costumed villains in this screenplay, and no sign of Carmine Falcone either. 

Instead, everything revolves around Loeb, a crooked Commissioner who definitely gets what's coming to him. Learning he was responsible for the murder of his parents, Batman throws a knife through his eye, and carves a "Z" (for Zorro) in his cheek. 

This comes after Loeb taunts Batman about his code, and while it does initially look like he's killed his tormentor, it's later revealed that the criminal survived. At the same time, Batman manages to restore Bruce Wayne's fortune, and he and Little Al later move into Wayne Manor together. 

3. The Dark Knight's Weaponry


Had a sequel happened, it's likely Aranofsky might have leaned a little heavier into the comics, depicting a Batman who now had the money to spend on advanced weaponry and tech. 

In this film, however, the Batcave was based in an abandoned subway tunnel, while the Dark Knight's weaponry was very much grounded in reality.

On the Batsuit, he had razor blades on his gauntlets (an idea Catwoman borrowed for her costume), and made use of chemical weapons. That's not too different to how Batman was portrayed in his earliest appearances, though we don't remember that Batman using white phosphorous to burn his foes!

This Batman was a beast, though, and forced one drug deal to eat the product he was selling. 

2. A Suicidal Jim Gordon


Detective Jim Gordon was a big part of Year One's screenplay, but some fans might not have been happy with the way he was sometimes depicted on screen. 

A broken man after spending four years working in Gotham City, he's keen to leave town for the sake of his pregnant wife. 

Jim reluctantly helps The Bat-Man and Catwoman take Loeb down and is, of course, the only honest cop in Gotham. He at one point believes Harvey Dent might be the vigilante, but later reels off his "I’m practically blind without my glasses" line from the comics when Batman is unmasked in front of him.

At one point, however, he sits on the toilet and puts a gun in his mouth, contemplating suicide.

1. Why The Film Didn't Happen


Batman: Year One is a film that wouldn't have appealed to everyone, but it certainly managed to do something new with the character, while putting a fresh spin on his origin story.

So, why was it never made?

This project came at a time when Warner Bros. was still attempting to figure out what to do with the iconic DC superhero, and understandably balked at a take which was heavily R-Rated and a significant departure from how Batman is portrayed in the comics. 

Aronofsky and the studio had vastly different ideas for who should play Bruce (Joaquin Phoenix vs. Freddie Prinze Jr.), and the filmmaker was far from a safe bet at the time. As a result, the decision was made to head in a different direction, and that was Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins. We did, however, get an R-Rated movie featuring the hero back in March!

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