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Ben Affleck's scrapped Batman film would've explored Bruce Wayne's sanity and featured Arkham
Just a few weeks ago, it was rumored that cinematographer Robert Richardson (Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood) was set to shoot Matt Reeves' The Batman. This turned out to be utterly false, but it did stem from a place of truth, as the DP was going to work with Ben Affleck on a standalone Caped Crusader film before the actor decided to retire from playing the iconic DC superhero. During a recent guest spot on MTV's Happy Sad Confused podcast, Richardson shed a little light on what Affleck's Batman project would have entailed, and honestly, it sounds pretty freakin' awesome.
"There was a script, but not a loved script," he said. There was a lot of work that he was doing to it; he was trying change it … He was going more into the insanity aspects, so I think you would’ve seen something a little darker than what we’ve seen in the past and more into the individual—who’s inside Batman. What element may be sane and what element actually may not be sane? He was entering a little more into the Arkham [side of things], so he’s going into where you keep everyone who’s bad and everyone who’s shifted. That whole aspect was very fascinating, to go to the darker side of Batman ... I was very, very interested in that one."
It's pretty unfortunate that this vision was never realized, especially since we've never really seen Arkham depicted in the live-action space. David Ayer's Suicide Squad (2016) had the chance to include the infamous mental asylum, but opted to go for Belle Reve instead. That being said, Richardon's whole career has been somewhat defined by comic book could, woulda, shouldas. For example, he mentioned that he met with Tim Burton (yet another Batman director) back in the day for the ill-fated Nicolas Cage Superman movie.
“I remember I sat with [Tim] and I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be interesting if we could actually shoot him flying? Like, drop him from an airplane, so you get the real movement of wind on a face in a dive?’ And he was like, ‘Ohh, that would be great.’ … Of course, you know the studio’s not gonna let that happen, but I did think just capturing that sense of flight would be [great]," he recounted.
Fresh off his sixth collaboration with Quentin Tarantino, Richardson also addressed the possibility of the Kill Bill director entering the sci-fi space for the very first time with a violent, curse-filled take on the Star Trek franchise.
"I wanna see the R [rated] version of Star Trek and I like Chris Pine quite a bit,” he concluded. "I’m sort of looking forward to seeing what he does in that; that’ll be a shake-up that could fantastic. That’ll be a wake up, although I loved the last three."
The Batman, which stars Robert Pattinson as a young Bruce Wayne, will follow the character's early days as a Gotham vigilante and play up the noir aspects of his moniker as the world's greatest detective. The film swoops into theaters everywhere June 25, 2021.