It was recently rumored by RevengeOfTheFans that Matt Reeves might be looking to take influence from Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One comic book and indeed use a younger actor as Bruce Wayne [reported by multiple trades recently]. Year One was loosely used as a template for Christopher Nolan and David Goyer’s Batman Begins. Take a read of the article cause there is some interesting stuff in there.
People seem to be really upset that Year One is being mentioned again, despite Matt Reeves previously saying he wasn’t interested in doing another origin story [we’ve had it on screen three times now]. I’m not entirely sure if most people are aware that there was another lose film adaptation of Year One that was developed but never made. It would have been different from both the comic or Batman Begins. There is a good chance that Matt Reeves and the studio might be trying to adapt Year One but not in the way most fans are expecting.
Mainly, we are thinking that Reeves might be taking cues from Darren Aronofsky‘s Year One adaptation that had Frank Miller as a screenwriter, which never came together and while it influenced Nolan’s film it was entirely different in many ways.
I could see them trying to retrofit the old project instead of adapting a straight version of the comic book.
In 2000, Aronofsky revealed to Empire they were planning on doing their own thing.
“It’s somewhat based on Frank Miler’s novel. Frank Miller is writing the screenplay with me, but it’s going to be very different than anything in Year One [the graphic novel], and anything you’ve seen. Toss out everything you can imagine about Batman! Everything! We’re starting completely anew.”
“I’m going to do a very extensive reading of the literature, but it’s going to be very, very different. I liked Tim Burton’s thing. I think all of the films will stand on their own. All I can say is that I want to do something which totally reinvents the franchise.”
Frank Miller echoed this while speaking with THR back in 2016.
“It was the first time I worked on a Batman project with somebody whose vision of Batman was darker than mine. My Batman was too nice for him. We would argue about it, and I’d say, “Batman wouldn’t do that, he wouldn’t torture anybody,” and so on. We hashed out a screenplay, and we were wonderfully compensated, but then Warner Bros. read it and said, “We don’t want to make this movie.” The executive wanted to do a Batman he could take his kids to. And this wasn’t that. It didn’t have the toys in it. The Batmobile was just a tricked-out car. And Batman turned his back on his fortune to live a street life so he could know what people were going through. He built his own Batcave in an abandoned part of the subway. And he created Batman out of whole cloth to fight crime and a corrupt police force.”
Removing Bruce’s wealth seems like a really different way to tell the Batman story and having his Batcave in an abandoned subway gives it another grounded element. Since he seems to use unlimited funds on the gadgets and having him find the Batcave is more interesting than it just happening to be under Wayne Manor. Some other key differences from Nolan’s films is that Selina Kyle and Alfred Pennyworth would be African-American and that Bruce teaches himself martial arts from reading books rather than by the League of Shadows.
A big clue Warner Bros. might be interested in their old incarnation is that Darren confirmed last fall that he originally wanted Joaquin Phoenix to play Bruce Wayne in his Year One incarnation. Phoenix is now set to play the Joker in the standalone film from Todd Phillips which is set in the eighties.
Oddly, Joker is said to be set in the same decade Batman: Year One was published as the comic made it’s debut in 1987.
There’s already rumblings that Phoenix’s Joker might end up being the one that Reeves ends up using in his films over Leto’s version. It’s possible Batman’s new origin might make an appearence in Joker, as Thomas Wayne has been rumored to show up and if it’s connected to the Joker would be totally organic to place it there. Establishing this new grounded/gritty Gotham City in Joker could be a smart move to lay the groundwork for Matt Reeves’ trilogy of films.
It wouldn’t be hard to age-up Phoenix if he was to appear in the Batman movies.
There was hints from Variety that Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot aka The Penguin could show up in The Batman as actor Josh Gad has been teasing a campaign to play him. Giving us the return of grounded or gangster villains might be the way to go. Villains like the Joker, Penguin, The Riddler, Harvey Dent, and Black Mask feel like perfect candidates for this new trilogy.
Ben Affleck seemingly wanted to use The Riddler in his incarnation stating that David Fincher’s The Game would be an influence, suggesting puzzles and detective work would be the focus of the film. Maybe he will survive the new version?
This is just our own speculation based on the recent Year One rumblings.