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Joaquin Phoenix Was Almost Batman, Until The Studio Wanted Freddie Prinze Jr.?

I like Freddie Prinze Jr.

I have nothing against him.

I do not want to see him play Batman in a "dark movie" about the character.

Would-be director of the movie, 'Batman: Year One', wanted Joaquin Phoenix for the lead role, and that ended up being the hang-up...

Alas, Aronofsky’s Bat-vision wasn’t to be – but in the new issue of Empire he opened up about his plans at the time, and how far they differed from those of the studio. As it turns out, Warner Bros fancied a much more clean-cut Bruce Wayne. “The studio wanted Freddie Prinze Jr and I wanted Joaquin Phoenix,” he recalls. “I remember thinking, 'Uh oh, we're making two different films here.' That's a true story. It was a different time. The Batman I wrote was definitely a way different type of take than they ended up making.” (via Empire Magazine)

Maybe it is me thinking about 'Scooby-Doo', but, yeah, that sounds like a really weird, happy-go-lucky Batman with Prinze Jr. in the role. The idea from Aronofsky was essentially what we got with Joaquin Phoenix's 'JOKER' movie, and the director has gone on to even say as much...

Aronofsky said he was envisioning his Batman movie in the same vein as 1970s crime films such as “Death Wish,” “The French Connection,” and “Taxi Driver.” If it all sounds a lot like the movie “Joker” became, well that’s because it was just like that. As Aronofsky told Collider during the “mother!” press tour, “I hear the way they’re talking about the Joker movie and that’s exactly — that was my pitch. I was like: We’re going to shoot in East Detroit and East New York. We’re not building Gotham.” (via IndieWire)

Honestly, I am not sure I would've loved that idea! The Joaquin Phoenix 'JOKER' movie worked because it mainly focused on one dark character. There was no Batman or other character hogging the spotlight. In order to make a dark Batman movie, you likely would need to bring in some villains… and that would likely distract from the entire message and point of the movie.

It's also interesting to think about what Aronofsky we would've gotten with this movie. He made 'The Wrestler' (amazing movie) and 'Black Swan' to end the 2000s, but 'Noah' and 'mother!' in the 2010s and those two movies were fucking horrendous.

What I do know is that we are getting a bit of a darker Batman next year and…

…it looks fucking awesome.