Frank Miller is one of the most influential comic book makers in the world, but he’s also got a reputation for being a cranky old man that’s hard to work with. That’s kept him out of many Hollywood projects that are simultaneously more than happy to lift gadgets, suits, characters, and sometimes entire arcs out of his comics. Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice was the latest example of this — it was jam packed with imagery straight out of Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.
When asked about the similarities by Variety, Miller gave a wry “You’re welcome,” response before they moved onto what kind of Batman movie he’d make if he had the opportunity.
My dream would be to make it much smaller. To lose the toys and to focus more on the mission, and to use the city a great deal more. Because he’s got a loving relationship with the city he’s protecting. And unlike Superman his connection to crime is intimate; it has been ever since his parents were murdered. And he defeats criminals with his hands. So it would be a different take. But it will never be in my hands, because it would not be a good place to make toys from. There wouldn’t be a line of toys.
Is this how you approached it with Darren Aronofsky on the Batman movie project that Warner Bros never made?
That screenplay was based on my book Batman: Year One and yeah it was much more down to earth. In it a fair amount of time is spent before he became Batman, and when he went out and fought crime he really screwed it up a bunch of times before he got it right. So it was 90-minute origins story.
The Aronofsky / Miller Batman movie was dropped in favor of Christopher Nolan’s version, but the more we hear about it, the more we wish it was something that had come to pass. According to Miller, Aronofsky was the only person who ever had a darker vision for Batman than himself, and the two had endless debates over the Dark Knight’s morality. Sadly, the movie never came to be, and Frank once again blames those damn toys.
“The executive wanted to do a Batman he could take his kids to,” Miller said in another interview earlier this year. “And this wasn’t that. It didn’t have the toys in it.”