Batman is easily one of the most engaging superheroes of all time. This mostly has to do with the fact that everything that makes him “super” is something he’s worked at mastering. Batman has no superheroes, as everyone knows. He was given no supernatural gifts via magic, technology, or alien-heritage. The only gift he was given was money. And what he did with this money is astounding.
Not only that, but he trained his body into becoming one of the most lethal weapons imaginable. On top of it all, Batman is an excellent tactician, an academic, a detective, and overall a complete genius. But just because Batman is such a fascinating character doesn’t mean that every single one of his movies have been up to snuff. In fact, a great deal of them haven’t been; need we talk about Batman & Robin?
Still, this hasn’t stopped the studios from pushing forward various films that feature The Caped Crusader, his allies, or his enemies. There have been many Batman movies that have been in the works in the past, but for various reasons have never seen the light of day. Seldom have they been the ones that fans have hoped for (you won’t see another Christopher Nolan film on this list, for instance). The same can be said for some of the upcoming Batman films. However, there may be two or three that we’d all actually love to see unfold on-screen.
Here are 10 Batman Films Currently In Development (And 10 That Were Canceled).
20IN DEVELOPMENT: THE BATMAN
The Batman seems to have had more of a complicated and rocky preproduction history than almost any other Batman film. At first, it seemed like Ben Affleck was set on not only starring in the film and writing it but directing it as well. That, of course, has changed over the years. Now, Matt Reeves has been locked into the project as the director and Affleck’s script has been scrapped.
However, it’s unclear whether or not Ben Affleck will return due to his personal issues, as well as whether or not Warner Bros. will continue with the DCEU continuity. Even the recent rumors that Jack O’Connell will be joining the film seem to be confusing fans. Regardless, this film is alive and will eventually find its way to the big-screen.
19ALMOST DEVELOPED: BILL MURRAY BATMAN
Ivan Reitman is easily one of the greatest comedy directors of all time. One of the reasons why is because he is able to find the authentic moments within the outrageous situations portrayed in his stories without it feeling forced. But he was an odd choice for a director to helm a Batman movie.
He was supposed to direct a film 1985 that featured comedy-legend Bill Murray as the Dark Knight.
Reitman was fresh off his hit-film Ghostbusters and promised a grittier take on the character’s origin story. The film, which was written by Superman screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz, was also rumored to star David Bowie as the Joker and feature Rupert Thorne as well as Silver St. Cloud as the love interest. However, for better or for worse, the movie plans fell through.
18IN DEVELOPMENT: JOKER
Of all the entries on this list, it seems like this Todd Phillips’ Joker film is getting the most publicity. Not only is this because it’s currently in production, but Batman fans are just obsessed with the Joker. Part of the character’s allure has to do with this mysterious past, something that seemingly will be uncovered in this new film.
Todd Phillips’ Joker film, starring Joaquin Phoenix, is a gritty take on a failed comedian’s decent into madness. With this Oscar-nominated performer taking on this iconic role, as well as Martin Scorsese in the producing seat, there’s a strong chance that this film could avoid disappointing the fans who worry that it will uncover too much about the origins of the Joker. The film is set for release in late 2019.
17ALMOST DEVELOPED: SCHUMACHER’S THIRD BATMAN
Who would have thought that Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever, starring Val Kilmer, Jim Carrey, and Tommy Lee-Jones, would have made money? Well, it did. A great deal of it actually. Even though critics didn’t like it, it was enough for the studio to greenlight Batman & Robin.
Before Batman & Robin became one of the most disliked films ever, Shumacher had actually planned his third Batman outing, which never saw the light of day.
That film was supposed to feature Nic Cage as Scarecrow and Madonna as Harley Quinn, who would be The Joker’s daughter instead of his love interest. It would also center around Batman confronting the person who ended his parents via Scarecrow’s fear toxin. Joel Schumacher just wasn’t the man to pull it off.
16IN DEVELOPMENT: “BIRDS OF PREY” MOVIE
Director Cathy Yan has been hard at work making sure that the Birds of Prey movie will be reaching the big screen in 2020. The movie, based on a popular series on graphic novels featuring characters from the Batman universe, is set to star Margot Robbie, reprising her role as Harley Quinn.
Quinn, after breaking up with the Joker, will team up with Black Canary, Officer Renee Montoya, and The Huntress to save the life of a little girl who may or may not grow up to be the next Batgirl. It’s been suggested that the Batman villain Black Mask will be featured as the Big Bad of the story. This would be a smart choice since the crime lord is often seen as far more ruthless and dangerous than many of Batman’s greatest foes.
15ALMOST DEVELOPED: TIM BURTON’S “BATMAN FOREVER”
It was Batman Returns’ tone as well as its mediocre box-office results that got Tim Burton removed rom his third Batman film. The biggest issue the studio had with Tim Burton after Batman Returns was the fact that the film was far too dark for some of the companies that had aligned themselves with the product, namely McDonalds. This is really too bad as it would have been nice to see Burton’s take on Batman Forever, which was eventually taken over by Joel Schumacher.
Before Burton was turfed, he had planned to have The Riddler as the main villain of the film.
It was rumored that Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman would return and a different version of Robin would be introduced. Unfortunately, Burton’s vision would never see the light of day.
14IN DEVELOPMENT: CHRIS MCKAY’S NIGHTWING
At one stage in the game, it seemed like the DC Extended Universe knew exactly what it was doing. So many were announced, and so many unexpected characters were given their very own standalone pieces. This includes Nightwing, a film directed by the Lego Batman Movie’s Adam McKay that followed the adventures of Batman’s first partner, Dick Grayson, AKA Robin #1.
Although this Batman character is particularly popular, especially when it comes to his solo stories as Nightwing, it remains to be seen whether or not this project is still in development or not. Even though the film has a director who seems passionate about it, the studio hasn’t provided many recent updates.
13ALMOST DEVELOPED: BATMAN: YEAR ONE
After Batman & Robin, and before Christopher Nolan revamped the Batman franchise for the better, director Darren Aronofsky was utterly keen on directing an adaptation of the graphic novel Batman: Year One.
Aronofsky’s vision wasn’t unlike Nolan’s.
Both preferred a more grounded, moody, honest, and emotional Batman film. He collaborated with the writer of the novel, Frank Miller, in order to bring the project to the treatment and outline phase for the studio to deliberate on. The main reason why Warner Bros. rejected the idea from the acclaimed director was that both he and Miller wanted the film to be R-rated and had designed it to fit that rating. Unfortunately, the studio system was not yet ready to make superhero films that were that edgy.
12IN DEVELOPMENT: THE BATGIRL MOVIE
At this point, little is known about the Batgirl movie. Unfortunately for fans of the character, the film seems to be stuck in limbo along with Nightwing and a host of other DCEU properties. At one stage, fans were excited about the fact that Joss Whedon was going to write and direct the film. After he bowed out of his duties, the film was up in the air again.
There is a script for the project. It was penned by Christina Hodson, the same screenwriter behind Birds of Prey and the Bumblebee movie. However, some rumors suggest that the film has been pushed back. The latest rumors say that DC is moving forward with a Batgirl television show. Whether or not it will have anything to do with Hodson’s script remains to be seen.
11ALMOST DEVELOPED: WOLFGANG PETERSON’S BATMAN VS SUPERMAN
Back in 2003, before Nolan’s revamp of the Batman franchise, director Wolfgang Petersen was an absolute shoe-in to take on a Batman V.S. Superman film. Peterson had pitched the idea to Warner Bros., which was keen on his approach to the characters.
The story was supposed to follow Bruce Wayne as he got married to the love of his life.
However, the Joker interferes and takes out his fiancee before the wedding. Bruce then spirals into a vengeful rage that triggers Superman to attempt to stop him. The film was eventually scrapped after the shooting dates were announced and Peterson pulled out of the project. In a way, this decision pushed Warner Bros. to make Batman Begins in the following year. Coincidentally, Christian Bale was the leading candidate for the Superman role in Peterson’s film.
10IN DEVELOPMENT: GOTHAM CITY SIRENS
Although Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn was a standout character in Suicide Squad, the film failed to live up to expectations of the fans. This isn’t uncommon for the vast majority of the DCEU films. The feeling seems to be shared amongst the studio executives who have put the future of almost all DCEU films in limbo. This includes a Gotham City Sirens film that’s been in development for a while.
However, there was recently a sign of hope for those who desire to see this movie. Director David Ayer released that he had met with Gotham City Sirens creator Paul Dini. The storyline is supposed to feature Margot Robbie’s Quinn, fighting alongside famous Batman villains Catwoman and Poison Ivy.
9ALMOST DEVELOPED: BOAZ YAKIN’S BATMAN BEYOND
During the period between Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin, and Christopher Nolan’s stellar reimagining of the Caped Crusader in 2005’s Batman Begins, many filmmakers took a shot at creating Batman properties in hopes that they’d be the ones to breathe life into a character made dormant by Schumacher.
Boaz Yakin, the man behind Remember the Titans, was tinkering around with a live-action, cyberpunk version of Batman Beyond. He later revealed in an interview that he didn’t really have the passion for it and that’s the reason why he bailed on the project after only completing a single draft of the script. He also claimed that it would have had similar elements to Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man film due to the fact that both Peter Parker and Terry McGinnis are teenagers when they embark on their quests.
8IN DEVELOPMENT: BATMAN HUSH ANIMATED
Although the DC Extended Universe has been particularly unreliable these days, Warner Brother’s animated department seem to be pumping out quality Batman films far more regularly. According to DC Comics, an animated version of the famous Batman comic Hush will be released sometime in summer 2019. The original 12-part novel, released in 2002, featured a large chunk of Batman’s most famous arch-enemies but also introduced a figure from Bruce Wayne’s childhood, Tommy Elliot. Elliot would turn into a master of disguise named “Hush” who is dedicated to bringing down Bruce at all costs.
The storyline is particularly emotional, and has a cool visual style.
Therefore it makes perfect sense that it will be made into an animated feature film.
7ALMOST DEVELOPED: THE WACHOWSKIS’ YEAR ONE
Due to the fact that Darren Aronofsky’s outline for Batman: Year One that was too violent and edgy for Warner Bros., the studio searched for a replacement. Year One already had legs and the studio was desperate to revive the franchise after the Schumacher mess, so they needed someone who could both do something respectable with it and make it marketable.
Warner Bros. turned to the Wachowskis, who were hot off the enormously successful Matrix sequels.
The first Matrix, starring Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss, was and still is, one of the most beloved films of all time. Therefore, there’s no doubt the Wachowskis would have been a good choice. The studio liked their proposal but ultimately went with Christopher Nolan who came in with a different vision altogether.
6IN DEVELOPMENT: THE JUSTICE LEAGUE V.S. THE FATAL FIVE ANIMATED
Without a doubt, Marvel has the upper hand on DC when it comes to the current slate of motion pictures. Sure, one could argue that DC’s films of the past, such as Burton’s or Nolan’s, are the strongest of all time, but right now DC is living in the shadows. However, its animated slate has consistently been strong and seems to have no issue pumping out a few Batman and Justice League cartoons every year.
It was announced that fans will be receiving a new Justice League animated film in spring 2019. In this DC Universe original film, Batman and the League will take on the Fatal Five, a gang of 30th century supervillains; Mano, The Persuader, The Emerald Empress, Validus, and Tharok.
5ALMOST DEVELOPED: ADAM WEST’S NEXT BATMAN
For years after his smash-60’s television show, Batman actor Adam West had been adamant about returning to his role. He also voiced his dislike of the Tim Burton Batman films in an interview with Rolling Stone, calling it “Robocop in Gotham City”. Since Warner Bros. wanted to move away from the campy style of the ’60s Batman series and film, West penned his own movie for him to star in.
The film would feature a retired Batman living with Robin in the desert.
A new villain would then arrive, forcing the Dynamic Duo back into action. By the sounds of West’s description, the film would have been overly convoluted and quite silly. As much as we all love Adam West, it’s probably for the best that this film wasn’t made.
4IN DEVELOPMENT: JARED LETO JOKER MOVIE
Like it or not, it seems like the DCEU is going to push forward with another movie that will feature Jared Leto’s take on The Clown Prince of Crime. The film is reportedly going to be titled Harley Quinn and the Joker and will costar Margot Robbie as Quinn.
Though this film has been a bit up in the air due to the DCEU’s struggling and Todd Phillip’s Joker film, rumored details about the film’s plot were dropped at the end of September. These details seem outlandish enough to engage the talents of both Leto and Robbie. Leto is also set to appear as the title role in Morbius, a movie about the Spider-Man villain that reportedly won’t conflict with his duties as the Joker.
3ALMOST DEVELOPED: “JUSTICE LEAGUE: MORTAL”
During the time of Christopher Nolan’s epic Dark Knight Trilogy, Mad Max: Fury Road director Geoge Miller was keen on creating a Justice League film with a bunch of up-and-coming actors. Although few story details for Justice League: Mortal were ever released, Miller did cast Armie Hammer as Batman, D.J. Cotrona as Superman, Megan Gale as Wonder Woman, Adam Brody As The Flash, and Common as Green Lantern. Talia Al Ghul and Maxwell Lord were supposed to be the villains of the piece.
The 2007/2008 writer’s strike, as well as other variables, dismantled the film altogether.
Who knows whether or not this project would have pleased fans or not, but certainly some variables caused them to have questions.
2IN DEVELOPMENT: THE LEGO MOVIE 2
One of the things you can count on is that the Lego movies will find a way to include Will Arnett’s hilariously arrogant version of Batman. This can certainly be said of the upcoming Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, which is to be released in 2019.
Phil Lord, Chris Miller, and Raphael Bob-Waksberg have penned this follow-up film which will focus on our Lego heroes as they defend themselves against the threat of DUPLO, who have made their home a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Batman will join Lucy and Emmett once more to defend Brickburg and all of its inhabitants from a force that seeks to take over. It’s expected that Batman will have a decent role in the film since his own standalone film, The Lego Batman Movie, was well-liked.
1ALMOST DEVELOPED: JOEL SCHUMACHER’S THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS
The Dark Knight Returns is one of the most iconic and beloved Batman graphic novels, so it makes sense that many directors would have wanted it to make it to the big screen. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice featured some threads from the story, as well as some visual homages, but it has otherwise not being featured as a live-action film.
Around the time of Batman & Robin, director Joel Schumacher was very interested in adapting the piece, hoping to go for a darker tone than both his critical flops, Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. Though it was likely a good thing that the studio wouldn’t let Schumacher go ahead with these plans, at least he was considering a more adult piece as well as hoping that Michael Keaton would reprise his role.
Which of these canceled or in-development Batman films do you want to see the most? Let us know in the comments below!