If you think Warner Bros' decision to make a Joker Origin movie is controversial (and a betrayal of the mysteries of the source), you probably would have exploded if Darren Aronofsky's pitch to make Batman: Year One had actually got to the big screen.
His vision - which came to light after he was hired in September 2000 - would have been based on a script by Frank Miller, and would have followed a penniless orphaned Bruce Wayne on the streets of Gotham, taken in by an automechanic Big Al and his son Little Al.
Aronofsky wanted to take leads from Taxi Driver, as Wayne grew to hate Gotham's criminal underbelly and eventually pulls on the cowl. This film's Jim Gordon would be a hard-nosed cop, Selina Kyle a prostitute and it would have been nothing like a Batman movie. Like, even less than Christopher Nolan's films were. And less than Zack Snyder's Man Of Steel was a real Superman film.
Now Aronofsky has revealed that he sees similarities in the Joker Origin movie to what he wanted to make, claiming that he was obviously just ahead of his time when he pitched Year One. While doing press for Mother!, Aronofsky spoke to First Showing about those parallels:
“You know what, I think it’s finally… I think we were basically – whatever it is – 15 years too early. Because 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. The Batmobile – I wanted to be a Lincoln Continental with two bus engines in it.”
The director also revealed that some of his vision actually did end up being used in later Batman movies, including Zack Snyder’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice:
“Some of my ideas got out there through other films. Like the ring with “BW”, Bruce Wayne’s ring making the scar was our idea and I think that was in Zack’s or something. Which is fine, you write these ideas and they get out. We were all about reinventing it and trying to make it more Taxi Driver visceral. That was the whole pitch. But the toy people were like, “Oh it can’t be a Lincoln Continental, you have to make a Batmobile.”
The Joker Origin movie is definitely going to be an odd prospect, but hopefully it will manage to hit the brief to be both entertaining, different AND fitting for fans.