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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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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.