Joaquin Phoenix was once director Darren Aronofsky‘s first choice to play Batman.

The filmmaker reveals he wanted to reinvent the Caped Crusader after George Clooney‘s turn as the famed character in movie flop Batman & Robin – and suggested Phoenix as his leading man.

“The studio wanted Freddie Prinze, Jr. and I wanted Joaquin Phoenix…,” Aronofsky tells Empire of his plans for Batman: Year One. “It was a different time.

The Batman I wrote was definitely a way different type of take than they ended up making.

“The Batman that was out before me was Batman & Robin, the famous one with the nipples on the Batsuit, so I was really trying to undermine that, and reinvent it. That’s where my head went.”

The project never made it into production and the role of Batman has since been played by Christian Bale in Christopher Nolan‘s Dark Knight trilogy and Ben Affleck. Robert Pattinson will be taking on the role for Matt Reeves‘ upcoming film, The Batman.

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Coincidentally, Joaquin Phoenix would end up playing Batman’s greatest enemy in the recently released film Joker, which was directed by Todd Phillips. As for Warner Bros.’ Batman film, the studio would eventually choose director Christopher Nolan to take the reins. Batman Begins — which starred Christian Bale as the Caped Crusader — hit theaters in 2005, and was followed up by 2008’s The Dark Knight and 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises.

Ironically, Phoenix picked up an Oscar for his turn as Batman’s nemesis The Joker in director Todd Phillips‘ 2019 hit Joker.