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The 7 best unproduced Batman screenplays (and what happened)

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Not every vision of The Dark Knight has seen the light of day. Here are a few Batman film projects that never got out of the Batcave, from Tim Burton’s proposed third installment to Darren Aronofsky’s much-hyped “Batman: Year One” to a Batman vs. Superman mash-up (the logo of which can be spotted amongst the post-apocalyptic NYC ruins of “I Am Legend”).


1. “Batman” by Tom Mankiewicz

What Was It: An unproduced 1983 script written by Tom Mankiewicz, the screenwriter of no less than three James Bond movies and who had an uncredited hand in the scripts for both “Superman” and “Superman II,” chronicles a fairly familiar origin story for the Caped Crusader (Bruce Wayne’s parents get killed and he wanders aimlessly for a bit before discovering his true calling as a superhero) and features his eventual team-up with Robin and clashing with the Joker. The script had a certain amount of what Richard Donner called the “verisimilitude” of the original “Superman” but also contained some of the whiz-bang-pow campiness of the television series, particularly after Batman and Robin join forces and take on the Joker’s men en masse.

What Happened: Nothing happened — Warner Bros. wouldn’t be quite ready to commit to an at least semi-serious live-action Batman movie for several more years. The final “Batman” script came from Warren Skaaren and Sam Hamm for the 1989 film directed by Tim Burton, while Mankiewicz went on to write “Ladyhawke” (which starred the future Catwoman, Michelle Pfeiffer) and “Dragnet.”


2. Tim Burton’s “Batman 3″

What Was It: There are different levels as to the “reality” of this supposed project depending on who you talk to, so take everything here with a grain of salt. Legend hath it that Tim Burton developed a concept for the third “Batman” film following “Batman Returns” that would’ve featured the Dark Knight taking on the Riddler, a criminal mastermind with his head shaved in the shape of a question mark, and teaming up with an orphan named Robin. The door was left open for Catwoman to make an appearance, as she survived the events of “Returns.” Marlon Wayans was apparently signed on to play Robin and even did some costume tests, with Rene Russo cast as Bruce Wayne’s love interest.

What Happened: Warner Bros. freaked when they found out the tone of the third film was going to be similar to that of the ultra-dark and melancholy “Batman Returns,” and Burton left the franchise, followed shortly thereafter by Michael Keaton. Joel Schumacher was hired to take over the series and he scrapped most of Burton’s ideas, though the Riddler and Robin would both end up appearing in “Batman Forever.” Rene Russo was deemed too old to be Val Kilmer’s love interest and was replaced by Nicole Kidman, and Wayans was apparently paid a lot of money to not be in the movie.


3. “Batman Triumphant” by Mark Protosevich

What Was It: The proposed fifth film in the franchise following “Batman & Robin,” “Triumphant” had Gotham’s crimefighting duo taking on the Scarecrow, with Jack Nicholson even rumored to portray the Joker in a hallucination sequence brought on by the Scarecrow’s fear toxin. Harley Quinn was also set to appear as the Joker’s daughter, seeking revenge against the Dark Knight for the death of dear old dad. Nicolas Cage, Steve Buscemi, Ewan McGregor and Jeff Goldblum were all rumored to be in the running to play the Scarecrow, with Madonna as Joel Schumacher’s first choice for Harley.

What Happened: “Batman & Robin” happened. The critical and commercial failure of that appalling disaster (and George Clooney’s vow to never don the cape and cowl again) prompted Warner Bros. to scrap the “Batman Triumphant” script and start looking for ways to reboot the franchise. This would prompt years of false starts and developmental hell until we finally got the definitive live-action Batman film in 2005: “Batman Begins.”


4. “Batman: DarKnight” by Lee Shapiro and Stephen Wise

What Was It: Another proposed fifth entry in the “Batman” series was this awkwardly-titled screenplay that brought back some of the old Tim Burton doom and gloom. In this version, Bruce Wayne was in self-imposed exile, discouraged over losing Batman’s mystique and ability to inspire fear in his enemies (maybe he shouldn’t host auctions and flash his “Batman Forever” credit card in public, then). Dick Grayson is attending Gotham University, where Dr. Jonathan Crane is conducting his experiments with fear. Crane’s vengeful run-in with a colleague, Dr. Kirk Langstrom, prompts the latter’s transformation into the terrifying mutant, Man-Bat.

What Happened: Joel Schumacher was set to direct this darker tale of the Dark Knight after Warner Bros. passed on “Batman Triumphant,” but “DarKnight” ended up being scrapped as well. A Scarecrow/Man-Bat story is definitely enticing (especially with word that Terrence Stamp was being approached for the latter role), but not on Schumacher’s watch.

Underworld

Under Your Spell

10 Otherworldly Romances That’ll Melt Your Heart

Spend Valentine's Day weekend with IFC's Underworld movie marathon.

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Photo Credit: Screen Gems/courtesy Everett Collection

Romance takes many forms, and that is especially true when you have a thirst for blood or laser beams coming out of your eyes.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a werewolf, a superhero, a clone, a time-traveler, or a vampire, love is the one thing that infects us all.  Read on to find out why Romeo and Juliet have nothing on these supernatural star-crossed lovers, and be sure to catch IFC’s Underworld movie marathon this Valentine’s Day weekend.

1. Cyclops/Jean Grey/Wolverine, X-Men series

The X-Men franchise is rife with romance, but the steamiest “ménage à mutant” may just be the one between Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Cyclops (James Marsden), and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). Their triangle is a complicated one as Jean finds herself torn between the two very different men while also trying to control her darker side, the Phoenix. This leads to Jean killing Cyclops and eventually getting stabbed through her heart by Wolverine in X-Men: The Last Stand. Yikes!  Maybe they should change the name to Ex-Men instead?


2. Willow/Tara, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Joss Whedon gave audiences some great romances on Buffy the Vampire Slayer — including the central triangle of Buffy, Angel, and Spike — but it was the love between witches Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and Tara (Amber Benson) that broke new ground for its sensitive and nuanced portrayal of a LGBT relationship.

Willow is smart and confident and isn’t even sure of her sexuality when she first meets Tara at college in a Wiccan campus group. As the two begin experimenting with spells, they realize they’re also falling for one another and become the show’s most enduring, happy couple. At least until Tara’s death in season six, a moment that still brings on the feels.


3. Selene/Michael, Underworld series

The Twilight gang pales in comparison (both literally and metaphorically) to the Lycans and Vampires of the stylish Underworld franchise. If you’re looking for an epic vampire/werewolf romance set amidst an epic vampire/werewolf war, Underworld handily delivers in the form of leather catsuited Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and shaggy blonde hunk Michael (a post-Felicity Scott Speedman). As they work together to stop the Vampire/Lycan war, they give into their passions while also kicking butt in skintight leather. Love at first bite indeed.


4. Spider-man/Mary Jane Watson, Spider-man

After rushing to the aid of beautiful girl-next-door Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), the Amazing Spider-man is rewarded with an upside-down kiss that is still one of the most romantic moments in comic book movie history. For Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), the shy, lovable dork beneath the mask, his rain-soaked makeout session is the culmination of years of unrequited love and one very powerful spider bite. As the films progress, Peter tries pushing MJ away in an attempt to protect her from his enemies, but their web of love is just too powerful. And you know, with great power, comes great responsibility.


5. Molly/Sam, Ghost

When it comes to supernatural romance, you really can’t beat Molly and Sam from the 1990 hit film Ghost. Demi Moore goes crazy for Swayze like the rest of us, and the pair make pottery sexier than it’s ever been.

When Sam is murdered, he’s forced to communicate through con artist turned real psychic, Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg in her Academy Award-winning role) to warn Molly she is still in danger from his co-worker, Carl (a pre-Scandal Tony Goldwyn). Molly doesn’t believe Oda is telling the truth, so Sam proves it by sliding a penny up the wall and then possessing Oda so he and Molly can share one last romantic dance together (but not the dirty kind). We’d pay a penny for a dance with Patrick Swayze ANY day.


6. Cosima/Delphine, Orphan Black

It stands to reason there would be at least one complicated romance on a show about clones, and none more complicated than the one between clone Cosima (Tatiana Maslany) and Dr. Delphine Cormier (Evelyne Brochu) on BBC America’s hit drama Orphan Black.

Cosima is a PhD student focusing on evolutionary developmental biology at the University of Minnesota when she meets Delphine, a research associate from the nefarious Dyad Institute, posing as a fellow immunology student. The two fall in love, but their happiness is brief once Dyad and the other members of Clone Club get involved. Here’s hoping Cosima finds love in season four of Orphan Black. Girlfriend could use a break.


7. Aragorn/Arwen, Lord of the Rings

On a picturesque bridge in Rivendell amidst some stellar mood-lighting and dreamy Elvish language with English subtitles for us non-Middle Earthlings, Arwen (Liv Tyler) and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) bind their souls to one another, pledging to love each other no matter what befalls them.

Their courtship is a matter of contention with Arwen’s father, Elrond (Hugo Weaving), who doesn’t wish to see his daughter suffer over Aragorn’s future death. The two marry after the conclusion of the War of the Ring, with Aragorn assuming his throne as King of Gondor, and Arwen forgoing her immortality to become his Queen. Is it too much to assume they asked Frodo to be their wedding ring-bearer?


8. Lafayette/Jesus, True Blood

True Blood quickly became the go-to show for supernatural sex scenes featuring future Magic Mike strippers (Joe Manganiello) and pale Nordic men with washboard abs (Hi Alexander Skarsgård!), but honestly, there was a little something for everyone, including fan favorite Bon Temps medium, Lafayette Reynolds (Nelsan Ellis).

In season three, Lafayette met his mother’s nurse, Jesus, and the two began a relationship. As they spend more time together and start doing V (short for Vampire Blood), they learn Jesus is descended from a long line of witches and that Lafayette himself has magical abilities. However, supernatural love is anything but simple, and after the pair join a coven, Lafayette becomes possessed by the dead spirit of its former leader. This relationship certainly puts a whole new spin on possessive love.


9. Nymphadora Tonks/Remus Lupin, Harry Potter series

There are lots of sad characters in the Harry Potter series, but Remus Lupin ranks among the saddest. He was bitten by a werewolf as a child, his best friend was murdered and his other best friend was wrongly imprisoned in Azkaban for it, then THAT best friend was killed by a Death Eater at the Ministry of Magic as Remus looked on. So when Lupin unexpectedly found himself in love with badass Auror and Metamorphmagus Nymphadora Tonks (she prefers to be called by her surname ONLY, thank you very much), pretty much everyone, including Lupin himself, was both elated and cautiously hopeful about their romance and eventual marriage.

Sadly, the pair met a tragic ending when both were killed by Death Eaters during the Battle of Hogwarts, leaving their son, Teddy, orphaned much like his godfather Harry Potter. Accio hankies!


10. The Doctor/Rose Tyler, Doctor Who

Speaking of wolves, Rose “Bad Wolf” Tyler (Billie Piper) captured the Doctor’s hearts from the moment he told her to “Run!” in the very first episode of the re-booted Doctor Who series. Their affection for one another grew steadily deeper during their travels in the TARDIS, whether they were stuck in 1950s London, facing down pure evil in the Satan Pit, or battling Cybermen.

But their relationship took a tragic turn during the season two finale episode, “Doomsday,” when the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and Rose found themselves separated in parallel universes with no way of being reunited (lest two universes collapse as a result of a paradox). A sobbing Rose told a holographic transmission of the Doctor she loved him, but before he could reply, the transmission cut out, leaving our beloved Time Lord (and most of the audience) with a tear-stained face and two broken hearts all alone in the TARDIS.

Five things we didn’t see in “The Dark Knight Rises” trailer, but wanted to

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Sure, there was a lot to digest in the new trailer for “The Dark Knight Rises,” but let’s face it — there’s still a lot we haven’t seen in previews for Christopher Nolan’s upcoming conclusion to his big-screen Batman trilogy.

And while it’s all well and good to leave some elements for the movie itself and not reveal everything before the film hits theaters, there are a few items of note that seemed conspicuously absent from the trailer. When it comes time for Nolan to cut the next trailer for the film, here’s what we’re still hoping to see before “The Dark Knight Rises” explodes into theaters.

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1. The Bat

Of all the things to skimp on in the trailer, Batman himself seems like a strange option. While we got to see lots of Bruce Wayne sans Bat-suit, the latest trailer only offered a few fleeting glimpses of Batman in full cape-and-cowl mode — though he was wielding an interesting rifle in one of them.

Still, given that each film has made a few tweaks to Batman’s suit, it was frustrating not to have more evidence of what “The Dark Knight Rises” will add to Batman’s costume. Mr. Nolan, bring us the Bat.


2. Bane’s Bane

Sure, we’ve seen that Nolan’s take on Bane will have him wearing something akin to the character’s iconic mask, but we haven’t seen any evidence that the character will also share his comic-book counterpart’s affection for the chemical compound known “Venom.” In the character’s comics history, Bane used the powerful drug to give him enhanced strength and durability, which he eventually used to “break” Batman over his knee. His reliance on the drug proved to be both an asset and a liability, as he became dangerously addicted over the source of his criminal career.

Thus far, we’ve seen little evidence of any Venom in Bane’s life, though there’s a chance he might have alluded to this at some point in the trailer or “The Dark Knight Rises” prologue at some point — we’re still trying to decipher what he said in that footage. (More on that in a bit.)


3. The Bat Family?

Right around the 1:50 mark in the trailer, there’s a shot of two camouflage-colored versions of the Batmobile escorting what we know to be the movie’s version of the Batwing. So, who’s driving?

In the comics world, we’ve seen everyone from Robin to Alfred commandeer Batman’s rides at one point or another, but we haven’t seen his supporting cast take such a role in Nolan’s films yet. Could “The Dark Knight Rises” also serve as an introduction for Robin or one of the other costumed characters that make up what’s come to be known as “The Batman Family”? We’re willing to bet that Robin is still off the table when it comes to the Nolan-verse, but maybe Joseph Gordon-Levitt will get in on the action in his role?


4. Catwoman’s Catsuit

We’ve seen still images of Anne Hathaway decked out as the burglar Catwoman, but so far we haven’t seen any action shots of Selina Kyle in full feline-friendly form, thieving from Gotham’s wealthy elite.

It’s a little surprising that the new trailer didn’t seem to offer any indication of her costumed alter ego, and could potentially mean a smaller role for Hathaway’s character than we were anticipating. Will we get to see the Cat strut her stuff, or will we spend most of the film reminding ourselves that Selina Kyle is Catwoman? Only time will tell, because the new trailer certainly doesn’t give up any hints.


5. Subtitles?

Okay, so I’m not actually arguing for subtitles to be added to the film, but here’s hoping Nolan can make a few tweaks to the sound in order to make Bane’s voice a little more coherent. I know I wasn’t the only person who had trouble understanding Hardy’s dialogue, which sounded more like a drive-thru intercom than the intimidating force of nature that Bane is intended to be.

We know Hardy is a great choice for Bane on a number of levels, so here’s hoping some audio troubles don’t detract from what we’re expecting to be an amazing performance.

What would you like to see in the next “The Dark night Rises” trailer? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

DC’s New 52 Omnibus lets new readers jump into the universe without any “crisis”

DC’s New 52 Omnibus lets new readers jump into the universe without any “crisis” (photo)

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In the course of collecting comic books over the last 25 years, I’ve noticed that there are two things readers show up for: stories where everything falls apart and the corresponding rebirths from those cataclysmic events. DC Comics has been a pioneer of these major events, from their continuity shattering “Crisis on Infinite Earths” to the “Death Of Superman,” a storyline in 1992 was a comic book event that drew national media attention because the publisher was willing to take the risk of killing off one of their most beloved and internationally recognized characters to revitalize the storyline.

For most comics, it’s not easy to jump into the story. There’s a good chance that if you come from a comic book family, your Superman WAS your father’s Superman (and quite possibly your grandfather’s Superman depending on how old you are). In some cases, with continuities stretching back almost 75 years, romances have gone on for decades, heroes have died and come back from the gave (some more than once) and yet most of them stay between the ages of 28 and 35. It’s a lot for the next generation to catch up on, and those are the readers the industry needs.

Welcome to the New 52, an event that saw the cancellation of every currently running DC title at the end of last August and a relaunch in September starting with an all-new Justice League series by superstar talents Geoff Johns and Jim Lee. It was a bold move that achieved the twin goals of tearing down the house and getting the band back together in a single stroke. The heroes had been updated, retooled, their origins tweaked, their histories streamlined. And their were twists to hook in readers who feared they might be getting more of the same; the Man of Steel could get nosebleeds and Bruce Wayne was raising a ten year old son instead of mentoring orphan wards.

Three months after DC’s line-spanning reboot hit the shelves in their individual format, the entire line of “New 52″ comics that we released in September have been collected in to a massive hardcover omnibus that is available today. And by massive, we mean that it wouldn’t hurt to have a magic ring or be powered by Earth’s yellow sun if you wanted to read this standing on the train.

Clocking in at a massive 1,216 pages, it’s a collection that pulls from DC’s pantheon of characters to create a wealth of visually charged moments. At the time of the relaunch, IFC picked some of our favorite titles, and now looking it over in one sitting reinforces some of the incredible things the event brought readers in a single month. Batman and the Joker taking on a riot together in Arkham Asylum, Wonder Woman rolling out of bed to wage a war against the Gods, and a young Clark Kent (now a hipster hero of the common man) taking on his first runaway train.

Along with the blockbuster action, there are also some wonderful “human” moments, like Green Lantern hitting up his ex to co-sign on a car loan and Aquaman facing off against snide blogger in a seafood restaurant, culminating in a “drop the mic” moment the Lord of Atlantis has earned after years of “your only power is to talk to fish” jokes.

While I’ve always been a fan of the rich history of comics, I understand that they need to grow, change and adapt to remain relevant. The collection is a great jumping on point for anyone who has been curious about getting back in to reading them, and with the final installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman series and “Man of Steel” on the horizon, there’s sure to be a few.

“The New 52″ Omnibus is perfect holiday gift for readers new and old, or a great addition to your own collection.

Will you be picking up the Omnibus? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

“The Dark Knight Rises” will feature nearly an hour of IMAX footage

“The Dark Knight Rises” will feature nearly an hour of IMAX footage (photo)

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Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, it’s no surprise that “The Dark Knight Rises” is heading to IMAX theaters with a bevy of footage native to the ginormous format. Now we have a little more information about exactly how much of the running time will be dedicated to IMAX, and it’s a doozy.

At a sneak preview of the six-minute IMAX prologue, Slashfilm managed to speak briefly with director Christopher Nolan. The fan-favorite helmer revealed to the site that almost 50 minutes will be presented in true IMAX glory, which is one of the largest amounts ever for a mixed-format motion picture.

In speaking previously about his experience shooting with IMAX cameras, Nolan was nearly giddy on the experience, stating, “[S]hooting and projecting IMAX 15 perf 65mm/70mm film was inspiring. The immersive quality of the image goes beyond any other filmmaking tool available, and in revisiting Gotham, we were determined to shoot even more of the movie in this unique format. Giving the fans an early look at an IMAX sequence is a great way to draw attention to what I believe will be an incredible way to experience our story when it comes out next summer.”

The IMAX prologue is scheduled to hit a couple dozen screens across the country, running before “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.” According to reports, the prologue will introduce Tom Hardy’s menacing villain, Bane, who takes over from the Joker and Two-Face as Batman’s principal antagonist.

Will you plan on seeing “The Dark Knight Rises” exclusively on an IMAX screen? Let us know below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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