According to Darren Aronofsky’s Empire interview, there exists an alternate timeline in which Joaquin Phoenix was our early-2000s Dark Knight. Per the director’s upcoming Empire interview, following the success of his 2000 film Requiem for a Dream, Warner Bros. reached out to Aronofsky to potentially direct a Batman film. Hoping to reinvent the franchise, he says, Aronofsky worked with famed comic-book author Frank Miller to draft a screenplay that drew heavily from Miller’s Batman: Year One. However, when it came time to discuss who his Bruce Wayne would be, Aronofsky realized the studio was thinking more “teen heartthrob” than “Method actor ready to put on 40 pounds of muscle and descend into madness.”
“The studio wanted Freddie Prinze Jr. and I wanted Joaquin Phoenix,” says Aronofsky. “I remember thinking, ‘Uh oh, we’re making two different films here.’ That’s a true story. It was a different time. The Batman I wrote was definitely a way different type of take than they ended up making.” The Batman movie they ended up making, of course, cast Christian Bale in Christopher Nolan’s 2005 film Batman Begins. Don’t worry, though. Still got plenty of time for at least two more Batman reboots after Robert Pattinson’s The Batman.