With all this talk of Batman:Year One, what other unrealized flicks would make good comics?
Years before BATMAN BEGINS made it to theaters, Darren Aronofsky and Frank Miller worked on an adaptation of BATMAN: YEAR ONE that a BLACK SWAN-related interview at Clothes on Film recently put back into the collective online dialog.The script caused a lot of stir in the early 2000s when reports leaked of the radical liberties it took with the Bat-mythos. Among other changes, it had Batman working out of a junkyard and Alfred recast as a chubby mechanic. When asked about the unrealized project, Aronofsky said he was currently working on turning a difficult-to-produce screenplay into a comic. It’s unclear as to whether he was referring to YEAR ONE or an unrelated screenplay, but I could easily see his and Miller’s vision executed as an Elseworlds mini or a Tale of the Multiverse.
What’s fascinating about following these unrealized stories is that you can see how they subtly influence later works from the creators. In the case of YEAR ONE, I suspect that Miller’s iconoclastic ideas about Batman eventually fed into ALL-STAR BATMAN. Similarily, considering how Aronofsky previously tried to make a movie out of Miller’s RONIN, I see strong influences from the comic in his flick, THE FOUNTAIN. Swap samurai for conquistadors and you’ll notice a lot similarities in these alternately cerebral and visceral stories that weave together parallel plot threads across space, time and consciousness.
Bringing this talk full-circle, it’s fitting that Aronofsky actually commissioned Kent Williams to adapt an earlier, more ambitious draft of THE FOUNTAIN’s screenplay into an OGN. There is, of course, a whole slew of unproduced comics-based screenplays floating around online and they're interesting curiosities in themselves. I don't know if we'll ever see the Wachowskis’ script for PLASTIC MAN, Roger Avary’s adaptation SANDMAN or Kevin Smith’s infamous SUPERMAN LIVES manifest in some officially printed-and-released form, but I'd love to take this opportunity to highlight some unrealized movies I'd love to see realized as comics someday. == TEASER ==
David Goyer’s original idea for the finale of this movie trilogy was to set the third one 20 years after the second, in a future where the vampires had actually succeeded in their world domination plans. Blade would literally be the last remaining resistance, still young because of his Dhamphiric biology (saving Snipes from cumbersome old man make-up, of course.) Ultimately, this was deemed too dark and we got the mess that BLADE TRINITY was. Oddly enough, we basically got to see this in last year’s horror flick DAYBREAKERS, but I’m still intrigued to see how it might’ve spun out. It not only would’ve been a fitting evolution of the vampire nations' scheming, it also would’ve raised some interesting issues of whether Blade was a savior or a terrorist in a world where the whole population had been turned.
THE CROW 2037: A NEW WORLD OF GODS AND MONSTERS
Years before he got to make HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, shock-master Rob Zombie was hired to write a script for a third CROW movie with the idea that he’d direct it, too. White Zombie had previously contributed to the CROW: CITY OF ANGELS soundtrack, so he was a fitting, if unorthodox, choice. This would’ve been a radical departure from the tradition of gothic romance established by James O’Barr’s comic, recasting the Crow as a swashbuckling hero who wandered across a nightmarish, rock n’ roll future and sought revenge on a demonic overlord who'd murdered him as a child. The script was honestly pretty messy, but I loved the whole notion of moving the core concept of the Crow into such a daring new direction with a setting that was in some forbidden no man's land between MAD MAX'spost-Apocalyptic desert and the nightmarish funhouse vision of New York in THE WARRIORS.
Going back even farther (before the release of the '89 Burton BATMAN movie!) is a script that's probably the purest translation of the Caped Crusader I’ve read. Tom Mankiewicz was a well-established screenwriter who’d worked on the first SUPERMAN movie and his telling of Batman's origin is in much the same vein as that classic, following Bruce Wayne from childhood through adolescence and up until his early days as the Dark Knight. Drawing heavily from the classic O'Neil/Adams run, this featured Rupert Thorne, the Penguin and the Joker as villains (with the clown price of crime having the same eloquent speech style he use in those days,) and Silver St. Cloud as the love interest. Robin showed up in the third act and the climatic fight did, indeed, take place on a giant type-writer (although not in a tongue-in-cheek way.) This didn’t have the gothic edge of Burton’s Batman, nor the gonzo camp of Schumacher's, nor the gritty realism of Nolan’s - - it was Batman as he was in the comics. While I wouldn't necessarily prefer to see this version, I'm still intrigued by what a more straightforward Batman movie would've looked like in the early 80s.