Joaquin Phoenix Was Up Against Freddie Prinze Jr. for Batman Role In Doomed Film

Director Darren Aronofsky had a very dark vision for the Dark Knight … the studio, not so much.

The world is turned upside down at the moment, so why not consider Joaquin Phoenix playing the Caped Crusader instead of the superhero’s arch nemesis Joker.

In a new interview with Empire, director Darren Aronofsky revealed he had been developing a Batman movie in the early 2000s, fresh off the success of "Requiem For a Dream," and was pushing for the actor to don the cape of the D.C. legend, but Warner Bros. had taken a shine to quite a different style actor.

"The studio wanted Freddie Prinze Jr and I wanted Joaquin Phoenix," Aronofsky recalled. "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."

At the time, Prinze Jr. would have been fresh off the successes of teen films like "I Know What You Did Last Summer" and "She’s All That." Phoenix would have been somewhere between "Gladiator" and "Signs."

Aronofsky’s take on Gotham City’s favorite son was going to be an adaptation of Frank Miller’s "Batman: Year One" comic "with nods to ‘Death Wish,’ ‘The French Connection’ and ‘Taxi Driver.’"

Miller was going to be part of the writing process as well.

"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," explained Aronofsky.

If all those elements weren’t dark enough for the Dark Knight, the "Mother" creator was going to add torture to the superhero’s repertoire.

"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," he explained. "That’s where my head went."

Eventually the gig went to Christopher Nolan, who also took elements from Miller’s work, as he debuted "Batman Begins" in 2005, with Christian Bale as the lead crime fighter.

If Joaquin’s ego was bruised, we’re pretty sure that recent Oscar for "Joker" is helping with the pain.

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