By Tyler Aquilina
April 18, 2020 at 12:41 PM EDT

It's fun to imagine what Darren Aronofsky's fabled Batman movie would have looked like, no matter who donned the famous cowl (would Batman have fought his own evil doppelgänger, perhaps?). Aronofsky has previously said that he wanted then-future Joker Joaquin Phoenix to play the Caped Crusader in his aborted early-2000s reboot, but in a new interview with Empire magazine, the mother! filmmaker finally revealed who Warner Bros.' pick for the role was.

“The studio wanted Freddie Prinze Jr. and I wanted Joaquin Phoenix,” Aronofsky said. “I remember thinking, 'Uh oh, we're making two different films here.' That's a true story. It was a different time. The Batman I wrote was definitely a way different type of take than they ended up making.”

Prinze was on the rise at the time, coming off of the hit 1999 teen rom-com She's All That. Nevertheless, he would have made an odd fit with Aronofsky's vision for Batman, which was famously even darker than the version that got made, Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins. The director enlisted comic book superstar Frank Miller to adapt his graphic novel Batman: Year One, but Aronofsky's vision was too extreme even for the author of Sin City and 300.

Credit: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images; Donna Ward/Getty Images

“It was the first time I worked on a Batman project with somebody whose vision of Batman was darker than mine,” Miller told The Hollywood Reporter in 2016. “My Batman was too nice for him. I’d say, ‘Batman wouldn’t do that, he wouldn’t torture anybody.'”

“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,” Aronofsky explained to Empire. “That's where my head went.”

Yet another Batman reboot is currently in production, with Robert Pattinson starring as the Dark Knight. Prinze, meanwhile, will appear as Punky Brewster's ex-husband in Peacock's upcoming sequel series, about as far from a hard-R superhero film as you can get.

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