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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.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.