The Batman series has continued to make a huge impact on audiences, both good and bad. The films have something for everybody, and it seems each era tries something new and unique. To some, it may seem the Caped Crusader is guaranteed to have a film greenlit. This is far from the case. Looking at the character’s history, there are more unreleased movies than ones that were made. From ridiculous plots to disturbing scripts, here are 10 unmade Batman movies that never saw the light of day.
10. Batman vs. Godzilla
The Godzilla series received a much-needed boost in 1962 when he crossed over with American owned character, King Kong. The film was a success, which prompted Godzilla writer Shinichi Sekizawa to write several successful films with Godzilla. He decided to crossover the character with another American icon and turned to Gotham City. Cashing in on the success of the Adam West-led Batman series, Sekizawa wanted to pit The Caped Crusader against Godzilla. It isn’t clear if there was even a script, but supposedly the plot involved the Dynamic Duo facing off against a mind-controlled Godzilla. This is one unmade Batman movie fans are still curious about.
9. Ivan Reitman’s The Batman
Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989 reinvented the character in the public eye. It took the dark tone of the comics and put it on the big screen for the first time. Before this film hit theatres, there were several other attempts. Perhaps the best known is one that was announced in 1980. The film would be penned by the writer of Richard Donner’s Superman films and would have a similar feel. Ivan Reitman was set to direct and, of all people, Bill Murray was to play the titular hero. Eddie Murphy was tapped to play Robin. While these casting choices seem crazy, one that may have worked was Joker. David Bowie would have portrayed the Clown Prince of Crime had the film been made. According to Murray, vanity prevented this unreleased movie from taking off.
8. Batman Beyond
Fresh off the success of the animated series of the same name, Warner Bros. wanted to adapt Batman Beyond to the big screen. After the infamous failure of Batman & Robin, the studio scrambled to reboot the franchise in some way, and this was one of their ideas. Paul Dini, who wrote the show as well as Batman: The Animated Series, was hired to pen the script. The idea was scrapped before a script could be written, however. Today, the series is fondly remembered, and fans still want to see it in live-action. With Michael Keaton returning as an older Bruce Wayne, perhaps now is an excellent time to re-visit this unmade Batman movie.
Before Batman & Robin killed superhero movies for a while, several sequels and spin-offs were considered. Most notably was a Dick Grayson spin-off that focused on him becoming his own hero, Knightwing. Chris O’Donnell was set to reprise the role and would lead directly into the fifth Batman movie. Other than Grayson transitioning from Robin to Knightwing, nothing is really known about the movie. The almost instant failure of Batman & Robin not only caused this unreleased movie to bite the dust, but it also caused Robin not to appear in a live-action film since. Knightwing has become increasingly popular in recent years, so it isn’t outside the realm of possibility that Knightwing will get his own movie someday.
6. Batman: Unchained
Before Batman & Robin was even released, a fifth film was greenlit by Warner Bros. Joel Schumacher’s unmade Batman movie was named Batman: Unchained. The unreleased movie would supposedly take a darker tone than the previous two and feature Scarecrow as the main baddie. Batman would be trapped in Arkham, as Scarecrow mentally torments him. The big kicker was the villains from every previous film, including Jack Nicholson’s Joker, would reprise their roles in a nightmare sequence. Once Batman & Robin was released, this script was quickly canceled, and Scarecrow would have to wait until 2005 to make his bug screen debut.
5. Batman: Year One
It was clear that the Batman series needed to be rebooted after Joel Schumacher’s final Batman movie. The best way to do that was by showcasing Batman’s origins by adapting Frank Miller’s Year One. The origins of Batman would eventually be told in 2005’s Batman Begins, but at one point, a more direct adaptation was considered. Named after the source comic, Batman: Year One was to be written and directed by Darren Aronofsky. Frank Miller himself was to help with the writing process, even though the final script was an adaptation in name only. The biggest thing about the film was it would change Batman’s origin. After his parent’s death, Bruce would lose his massive fortune, meaning he couldn’t rely on his wealth in his crusade as Batman.
4. Batman vs. Superman
It wasn’t until 2016 when Batman and Superman shared the big screen, but it was going to happen much sooner. Sharing the same name as the Zach Snyder film, the unmade Batman movie followed an older Batman tracking down the Joker after he killed Bruce’s fiancée. Superman intervenes, and the two throw down. The script may have gone unmade, but it actually shares several similarities to the film we got. An older Bruce Wayne coming out of retirement for one. Another similarity is Lex Luthor being the puppet master, pitting the titular heroes against each other.
3. Tim Burton’s Batman 3
After Batman Returns caused controversy due to its dark tones, Warner Bros. looked to soften the tone for the third installment. This led to Batman Forever, and Tim Burton was reduced to the producer before leaving the project for the fourth film. Before he was replaced, he had an idea for a third movie that would see Michael Keaton return. The main villain would be Harvey Dent, who had finally made his transition into Two-Face and would be played by Billy Dee Williams, reprising his role from the first film. Marolyn Wayans was to debut as Robin, a role he was supposed to play in the previous two films before he was cut. The film was changed, and the final product is barely recognizable, which is why Michael Keaton left before shooting.
2. Justice League: Mortal
In 2007, a year before the MCU was launched with Iron Man and new ground was broken with The Dark Knight, Mad Max creator George Miller was to bring the Justice League to the big screen for the first time. Justice League: Mortal was to be primarily based on the comic Tower of Babel and involve Batman’s contingency plans for the League to fall into evil hands. The film was very close to shooting, with a mostly full cast and even costumes ready to go. The unreleased movie was canceled due to creative differences, but the fact the film was so close to becoming a reality draws fans to it.
1. Ben Affleck’s The Batman
This is an unmade Batman movie that is likely still fresh in fans’ minds. After Justice League, Ben Affleck was to write, direct, and star in a solo film titled The Batman. The film would feature Batman going up against Deathstroke. Deathstroke was to be played by Joe Manganiello, and he debuted the character in the post-credit scene of Justice League. The failure of that film caused Ben Affleck to lose interest. The movie morphed into the Matt Reeves film we have now. Joe Manganiello remains the only actor to portray Deathstroke in a live-action film, and fans are still clamoring to see him in action.