DarKnight Would Have Been Batman & Robin’s Opposite In Every Way

“Batman & Robin” was panned by critics and the audience response wasn’t much better. It still managed to make $238 million at the box office, but that was more than $100 million less than its predecessor — which isn’t too surprising when you learn about how the “Batman & Robin” set was basically one giant party. The film’s campy tone directly undermined the darker vision of Batman that Tim Burton established when the franchise began. And while “Batman Forever” had struck a workable balance between Burton’s Gothic take and Joel Schumacher’s more light-hearted approach, “Batman & Robin” had taken things too far in the latter direction.

And so, Schumacher was out, despite having a follow-up film planned. As a 2015 article from The Hollywood Reporter recounted, subsequent years would see several attempts at reviving Batman, including pitches from “The Whale” director Darren Aronofsky and none other than the celebrated comic book writer and artist behind “The Dark Knight Returns,” Frank Miller.

But perhaps the most intriguing pitch came from a pair of writers who had no blockbuster credits to their name. Lee Shapiro and Stephen Wise had devised a story that brought Batman back to his dark roots once again, and impressed Warner Bros. executive Tom Lassally with their pitch. The studio commissioned a script, which the pair worked on for three months before turning in “Batman: Darknight.” The film was planned as a continuation of the established timeline, wherein George Clooney and Chris O’Donnell would return as Batman and Robin. But it was to be a decidedly more mature affair. As Shapiro told THR: 

“Our script was just a direct answer to the last movie. Everything we were doing was, ‘What did they do? Let’s not do that.'”

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