Before Joker, Joaquin Phoenix was supposed to play Batman, but studio rejected him
Before playing Batman’s nemesis Joker and winning an Oscar for it, Joaquin Phoenix was rejected for the role of Batman in Darren Aronofsky’s planned film.Updated: Apr 18, 2020, 11:19 IST
Before he played the iconic villain Joker and won an Oscar for it, actor Joaquin Phoenix was director Darren Aronofsky’s first choice to play Batman. Aronofsky was slated to make a Batman film in the early 2000s, before the project fell apart and Christopher Nolan rebooted the franchise with Christian Bale.
Part of the reason why the film never took off, Aronofsky has said in a new interview, is because he wanted Phoenix for the role and the studio didn’t. He told Empire, “The studio wanted Freddie Prinze Jr and I wanted Joaquin Phoenix. 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.”
Aronofsky’s Batman film was said to be heavily inspired by Frank Miller’s graphic novel, Batman: Year One. Miller was, in fact, writing the script himself. “It was an amazing thing because I was a big fan of his graphic novel work, so just getting to meet him was exciting back then,” Aronofsky recalled.
The film would have released just a few years after George Clooney’s Batman & Robin tanked the series. “The Batman that was out before me was Batman & Robin, the famous one with the nipples on the Batsuit, so I was really trying to undermine that, and reinvent it,” Aronofsky said. “That’s where my head went.”
Phoenix went on to play the Joker in director Todd Phillips’ 2019 drama, winning the Academy Award for Best Actor. He was also in the running to play Doctor Strange in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, before Benedict Cumberbatch was hired.
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