A couple of days ago, Christopher Nolan’s groundbreaking film series reboot Batman Begins turned ten years old, and paved the way for a Hollywood trend that still exists today: the concept of a reboot. In 1997, when Warner Bros. released Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin to an abysmal critical reception, the series would go on hiatus for eight years, and be completely wiped clean by Nolan’s dark and character-driven take on the Dark Knight’s origin story.
That’s not how things stayed, though, as Schumacher did spend some time developing his third outing with the characters of Gotham City for release before the year 2000. A lot of rumors and assumptions have been made about what Schumacher’s third Batman film might’ve looked like, but a new piece from The Hollywood Reporter may have cracked what could’ve been in the event of Batman & Robin‘s “assured” success. After the success of Batman Forever, Warner Bros. saw a more long term future for the Batman franchise under Schumacher’s stewardship. While Batman & Robin was in post-production in the spring of 1997, this report claims that the studio enlisted screenwriter Mark Protosevich to script the third outing for the director with the Dark Knight.
This film would’ve been entitled Batman Unchained, and would’ve featured villains like the Scarecrow and even the Joker’s “main squeeze” herself, Harley Quinn. The original report reads,
Schumacher envisioned a psychologically complex take on the character, something he says he wanted to do with his Batman Forever follow-up before getting pushback from the studio and ultimately making Batman & Robin. Scarecrow and Harley Quinn were to be the film’s chief villains. George Clooney (Batman) and Chris O’Donnell (Robin) would be back, but Alicia Silverstone’s Batgirl was not in the script. In what would have been big boon, Jack Nicholson ‘s Joker was also slated to appear, alongside previous villains in the series.
“It was going to be very dark,” says Schumacher. “I remember going to the set of Face/Off and asking Nic Cage to play the Scarecrow.”
Protosevich worked on a draft of the screenplay that would end up totaling 150 pages, and although the online community has often referred to Schumacher’s unmade third Batman film with the subtitle “Triumphant,” Protosevich himself doesn’t know where that name came from. Perhaps most ambitious of all of these plans, though, was what the Scarecrow would allow in the film’s finale: a tying-up of all four previous Batman films where Batman is “put on trial” by all of his previous enemies due to the effects of the Scarecrow’s fear toxin.
The script culminates with an ambitious, all-star sequence that would have seen a hallucinating Batman face the demons of his past, where he is put on trial by the franchise’s previous villains. The studio wanted to enlist cameos from Danny DeVito (The Penguin), Michelle Pfeiffer (Catwoman), Tommy Lee Jones (Two-Face) and Jim Carrey (The Riddler), all leading up to a final confrontation with the man himself: Jack Nicholson’s Joker.
“Joel wanted to tie up all of the films. The Tim Burton films and his films, building up to this moment,” says Protosevich.
Other surprising details included say that Courntey Love was thought to be the front-runner to play Harley Quinn, along with detailed entries on what other Batman films would’ve looked like after the studio decided to pass on Schumacher. For more details, be sure to read the full piece at THR.
Batman will next be seen in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. He’ll be played by Ben Affleck, and the film will hit theaters in March of 2016.
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