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Batman

Bill Murray Batman?

8 Batman Movies That Almost Happened

Catch an all-day Batman movie marathon Wednesday December 9th on IFC.

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With the release of the latest trailer for 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, anticipation for the Dark Knight’s return to the big screen is at an all-time high. (Who among us hasn’t wondered what Batman would sound like with a Southie accent?) But this isn’t the first attempt to have DC’s two ultimate heroes meet at the multiplex. In fact, countless Batman movies have come close to getting made, only to fall apart due to budget issues, internal politics or the fact that they just weren’t very good. Before you catch IFC’s Batman movie marathon, bone up on all the Batman projects that ended up buried in the development hell Batcave.


1. Ivan Reitman’s The Batman (1985)

Broadway Video

Broadway Video

With the success of Richard Donner’s Superman, it was only natural to hire Tom Mankiewicz, one of the original film’s screenwriters, to have a pass at the Dark Knight. Based on Steve Englehart’s comic book Batman: Strange Apparitions, the movie would have dealt with the Joker’s quest to expose Batman’s true identity. The tone was imagined as dark and gritty, which of course meant hiring Ghostbusters helmer Ivan Reitman. This odd choice got even crazier when the comedy director tapped Bill Murray to be his Bruce Wayne.

While Michael Keaton would cause similar head scratching when he was cast a few years later, Reitman and Murray’s involvement suggest that the film may have started veering a little closer to camp than first planned. With David Niven rumored to have been signed to play Alfred, and Eddie Murphy in talks to play Robin, the tone of the film continued to be schizophrenic. In the end, nine different screenwriters were brought in to take a pass at the script, before Warner Brothers finally killed the project. (Murray would later be on the potential casting list for Burton’s Batman before Keaton scored the role.)


2. Tim Burton’s Batman Forever (1995)

Warner Brothers

Warner Brothers

Tim Burton would eventually be brought in to direct 1989’s Batman, which proved to be a massive hit. After returning to the character with 1992’s Batman Returns, Burton set his sights on the final installment of his trilogy. The Riddler was the sole villain in the script, and Robin Williams was in talks to bring him to life. The origins of Robin were also a part of the story, with Marlon Wayans brought on board to play the junior member of the dynamic duo, after nearly playing the part in Batman Returns.

But when Batman Returns failed to do the business of its predecessor, Warner Brothers decided to move in a more family friendly direction. Burton was out, Keaton turned down $15 million to reprise his role, and Wayans was paid in full to not be in the movie. Yep, Marlon Wayans still receives residual checks for not being in a Batman movie.


3. Joel Schumacher’s Batman Unchained (1998)

Warner Brothers

Warner Brothers

Before the world got a look at the cinematic trainwreck that was 1997’s Batman and Robin, Warner Brothers and director Joel Schumacher assumed it would be a hit. Rose colored glasses firmly in place, they started planning their next chapter, which would’ve featured the Scarecrow locking Batman up in Arkham Asylum in an attempt to drive The Dark Knight insane.

Nicholas Cage was approached to play Scarecrow, while cameos from past villains (including Danny DeVito’s Penguin and Jack Nicholson’s Joker) were lined up for the climax of the film, as Batman fights off the effects of the creepy baddie’s fear toxin. Courtney Love and Madonna were rumored to be up for the part of Harley Quinn, who would be revealed as the Joker’s daughter out for revenge. But when Batman & Robin bombed, Schumacher was shown the door, and the Batman franchise was cast adrift.


4. Batman: DarKnight (2000)

Warner Brothers

Warner Brothers

With frustration mounting on the direction of the franchise, two unknown writers were hired off a pitch to bring the movies back from the campfest they had become. But not knowing exactly how the backlash from Batman & Robin would play out, the script was still designed as a possible vehicle for George Clooney and Chris O’Donnell, only with a very different tone.

In the pitch, Bruce Wayne would be retired, and Dick Grayson a student at Gotham University. His professor would be Jonathan Crane, otherwise known as the Scarecrow, who would use his student as a guinea pig for his fear toxin, driving him insane. Wayne would have to return to his crime fighting roots, fighting Scarecrow as well as his creation, the monstrous winged villain Man-Bat. The script would bounce around Warner Brothers for months before it was decided to make a clean break from the past.


5. Boaz Yakin’s Batman: Beyond (2002)

Warner Brothers

Warner Brothers

With four wildly different Batman movies under Warner Bros’ utility belt, it was decided during the late ’90s to go in a new direction. While Batman & Robin was stinking up theaters, they did have a hit on TV with the animated Batman Beyond. The story of Terry McGinnis, a protégé of Bruce Wayne fighting crime in the far future, was thought to be a way to reintroduce Batman to the public without covering the same ground yet again. Batman Beyond co-creators Alan Burnett and Paul Dini were brought in to develop a live-action version with Remember the Titans director Boaz Yakin. But, yet again, the project went nowhere, and Warner Bros. found itself back at the drawing board.


6. Darren Aronofsky’s Batman: Year One (2002)

Warner Brothers

Warner Brothers

Desperate for a fresh take, Warner Bros. decided to go right to the comics. Frank Miller had reinvented Batman, and the superhero genre in general, in the 1980s with his one-two punch of The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One. Exploring the end and the beginnings of Bruce Wayne’s life as Batman, the two graphic novels dropped like nuclear bombs, bringing dark and adult themes to comics for what seemed like the first time.

Miller was brought in to develop a script for Year One with up-and-coming director Darren Aronofsky, who was then best known for his lighthearted romp Requiem For A Dream. So it’s no surprise that these two came up with a hard-edged, R-rated movie, full of graphic violence. Unsurprisingly, the studio execs tried to neuter the script before ditching it altogether.


7. Wolfgang Petersen’s Batman VS Superman (2004)

Warner Brothers

Warner Brothers

Looking for a more accessible Batman, action helmer Wolfgang Petersen, then best known for Air Force One, was brought on board. Working off a pitch by Se7en screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker, the idea was to pit Batman against the Man of Steel just like how the two heroes had faced off in Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns.

Bruce Wayne would be retired (again), and married, until his blushing bride is killed on their honeymoon. When The Joker is outed as the killer, Wayne returns to crime fighting to take him down once and for all. Superman is going through hard times himself after getting divorced from Lois Lane. Gradually it’s revealed that Lex Luthor and the Joker have teamed up to manipulate the lives of Kent and Wayne, leading the heroes to engage in some serious fisticuffs. Fortunately, in the midst of a massive fight in which Batman is decked out in Kryptonite armor, the two realize what’s really happening, and unite to take down their foes.

Josh Harnett was a favorite at the time for the role of Superman, and Christian Bale found himself rumored for the Dark Knight years before he would take the role on in Batman Begins. But as the shoot grew more and more complicated, Petersen decided to move on to Troy, and the project collapsed under its own weight.


8. George Miller’s Justice League: Mortal (2009)

Warner Brothers

Warner Brothers

The most recent failed attempt to bring Batman to the big screen might just have been the best. Anyone who saw last summer’s Mad Max: Fury Road knows that director George Miller knows his way around an action movie. In 2009 he was all set to shoot a massive superhero movie, which would have brought large parts of the DC Universe to the silver screen. With Armie Hammer locked in as Batman, along with Adam Brody as The Flash and D.J. Controna as Superman, this all-star line up was stopped by the one thing more powerful than a supervillain: A writer’s strike. When the Writers Guild of America picketed in 2009, the movie lost momentum and eventually was canceled. But Warner Brothers refused to let sleeping Batmen lie, and that, ladies and gentleman, is how a Batfleck happens.

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

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Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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