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Joaquin Phoenix, Joker trailer
Joaquin Phoenixvia YouTube/Warner Bros Pictures

Darren Aronofsky wanted to cast Joaquin Phoenix as Batman

The director says that the casting was the reason his early 00s Batman film fell through

In the early 00s, Darren Aronofsky was in the running to helm a new Batman film (the one eventually directed by Christopher Nolan, starring Christian Bale), and apparently we would have a very different franchise on our hands if he got the job.

Aronofsky has revealed in an interview with Empire that his adaptation would have taken it to a much darker place (who’d have guessed, from the director behind Mother! and Requiem for A Dream?). 

Maybe most notably, his ideal casting for the titular hero would have been Joaquin Phoenix, the winner of an Oscar for the portrayal of Batman’s arch-nemesis, in 2019’s Joker.

In the end though, Aronofsky thinks that it was the casting decision that caused the film to fall through completely (or at least heralded its demise).

“The studio wanted Freddie Prinze Jr and I wanted Joaquin Phoenix,” he tells Empire. “I remember thinking, ‘Uh oh, we're making two different films here.’”

“The Batman I wrote was definitely a way different type of take than they ended up making.”

There’s certainly no shortage of Batman takes to go around. Since Christian Bale’s critically-acclaimed performance, Ben Affleck has appeared as the hero, and Robert Pattinson will take on the role in a film scheduled for release this year (although it’s unclear if the release date will be affected by the coronavirus pandemic).