Looking Back #4: Batman Beyond Live-Action Movie

Looking Back #4: Batman Beyond Live-Action Movie

In the 4th installment of Looking Back, I'll be taking a look at the proposed 2000 R-rated Batman Beyond movie, which had Boaz Yakin attached to direct, and Paul Dini and Alan Burnett hired to write the screenplay.

Previously, I took a look at the history of all the failed attempts to bring Wonder Woman to the big screen. In this latest edition, I'll be looking at the proposed Batman Beyond project of 2000 that was ultimately passed on in favor of Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins. While I'm sure everyone is ecstatic with Warner Bros. decision making here from the information I've collected, the Batman Beyond movie sounds like it could've been a successful addition to the Batman filmography.

At the turn of the 21st century, there were a surprisingly large number of Batman projects in development at Warner Bros. In a sort of battle royale, Warner Bros. had teams of writers and directors all simultaneously working on a re-invention of their Batman property. Names like Frank Miller, Darren Aronofsky, Wolfgang Peterson, Paul Dini, Alan Burnett, Boaz Yakin and even Joel Schumacher were frantically at work with their respective teams trying to get their adaption green lit before the others. In the next installment, I'll be covering this creator throw-down but first I want to take a look at a project that immediately caught my eye, the Batman Beyond pitch given by Boaz Yakin, Paul Dini and Alan Burnett.

At that particular time, Boaz Yakin was a hot Hollywood director, fresh off the success of Remember the Titans. For his next project, he approached writers Paul Dini and Alan Burnett to collaborate with him on creating a Batman Beyond project for Warner Bros. Also on-board their team as consultants were the esteemed Neal Stephenson and Bruce Timm. This was a power-house team and many fans felt they had the best shot at getting their film greenlit. Alan Burnett is a powerhouse in the animated film world. He's has had a hand in virtually every DC animated project since the waning years of the Super Friends. Paul Dini and Bruce Timm were collaborators on both Batman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond. Paul Dini is also the man who created Harley Quinn, and would go on to write Batman: Streets of Gotham and write the story for the video game Batman: Arkham Asylum. Bruce Timm has so many credits to his name, I simply don't have the space to list them all. Although I will say that he co-created Harley with Paul and that a little known fact is that he got his start as a comic book artist. Teaming up with these two industry giants were the Hollywood "it" director of the moment [Yakin]and an acclaimed science-fiction steampunk author [Stephenson]. Warner Bros. was likewise enthused by this collection of talent and sent the team off to create with no restrictions, parameters, or outlines. In speaking on the project, Burnett had the following to say:

It wasn't they [Warner Bros.] who came to us. It was a young director named Boaz Yakin, who wanted to write Batman Beyond. He was a big fan and he wanted to write with Paul and myself. So the powers on the lot said, 'OK, you guys can go write together.' Actually, we had to go get approval through the writers' guild because three-writer teams have to get approval.

"Boaz had a definite vision of the show. He was the director of Remember The Titans - a really talented fellow. He kept pushing the envelope on the script. It was pretty violent and pretty sexy and in the end, we knew we were dealing with an R-rated script, but we rode along with it. We handed it in [July 2001], and the lot was just shocked, completely shocked, and wanted us to start over essentially. And he saw that he was going to be going through a long process that he didn't want to go through, and so he bowed out.

As Burnett said, the studio was definitely second-guessing their decision to send the team off with no direction as to what kind of product they were expecting. Even though the first script was shot down completely, the team got a second chance while the studio continued development on the project. Rumors had it that Keanu Reeves was approached to play Terry McGinnis and Paul Newman was approached to play on older Bruce Wayne. Meanwhile, the writing team of Dini and Burnett continued to work on the project even after the man that brought them together decided to move on. However, in the end the studio ultimately went with Nolan's version and this project was put on hold. Burnett had the following to say on the entire process:

"Paul and I stayed in the game for a little while, but we just stepped out, too. I don't know how movies get made. It's such a long process, so many notes, so many worries about if it's going to fly. They don't tell you to go out and write. They have to feel comfortable with you step by step."

No version of the script or treatment were ever leaked to the public but rumors continue to run rampant even to this day. One strong rumor was that the script had the Joker returning due to Jack Nicholson really wanting to be apart of the movie. It was also heavily rumored that the movie would take place in the same continuity as the Tim Burton films. This could've possibly set the stage for a Cinematic Universe similar to what Marvel is doing today. But again, these are all rumors as the scripts have remained under lock and key at Warner Bros.

What are your thoughts on an R-rated Batman Beyond film? Think it would make sense to go the Batman Beyond route after the The Dark Knight Rises? The idea is intriguing because [again] you could create a universe similar to what's happening over on the Avengers. There would be great potential for interconnected storylines between the Bruce Wayne and Terry McGinnis eras, similar to what we saw in the animated feature, Return of the Joker. You could also introduce the various DC characters in brief cameos as you switch back and forth between the two timelines. It would be a clever way to compete with what Marvel's doing without blatantly copying their approach. Anyways, sounds like this could've been a very interesting addition to the Batman mythos. I'm a little uncertain though as to whether this will ever be made but if this ever does come to pass, I pray to the Bat gods that Clint Eastwood is cast as Bruce.

Keanu Reeves was rumored to be Terry McGinnis back in 2001.

Paul Newman was rumored to be an old Bruce Wayne back in 2001. He did have the look but I prefer Clint Eastwood.


Batman Beyond began airing on January 10, 1999 and ended its run on December 18, 2001. With 52 episodes and one direct-to-video movie under its belt, the series was then put on hold for the new Justice League animated series. As of 2007, Batman Beyond remains on hiatus with no plans to revive the series in the near future. This series is the chronological end to what is know as the DC animated universe. SYNOPSIS: In 2040, Terry McGinnis (born on August 18, 2023) is an athletic sixteen year-old high school student and reformed troublemaker with a deeply ingrained sense of personal justice. During the pilot episode, he saves a fellow passenger on a commuter rail from being hassled by one of the Jokerz, and later single-handedly takes on an entire gang of them to defend his girlfriend, ultimately resulting in a harrowing high-speed motorcycle chase through Neo-Gotham's expressways. The chase ultimately ends at the doorstep of Wayne Manor, where a fleeing Terry runs into the elderly Bruce Wayne. Bruce and Terry fend off the Jokerz side-by-side, but the exertion aggravates his heart condition. Terry helps Bruce back to the manor, and while staying there, he discovers the entrance to the Batcave, and later returns to "borrow" the Batsuit to avenge the death of his father. As crime and corruption are beginning once again to rear their ugly heads in Gotham, Bruce ultimately allows Terry to assume the mantle of Batman.

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Hellsing - 7/10/2011, 10:54 AM
would have been cool to see. Obviously WB want to pump out Bat related movies after Nolan is done but instead of you know seeing Bruce Wayne all over again how about Batman Beyond instead but I doubt WB would do that they won't take the risk. They don't have the balls to do it, and after GL's underwhelming performance in the box office I wonder if they ever will.
Ethic - 7/10/2011, 10:55 AM
I would love a Batman Beyond film for a change, it doesn't necessarily have to be a continuation of the current franchise or anything.
R-Rated would be fantastic but The Dark Knight felt like a very mature film at it's rating so it wouldn't be a necessity either.

I would prefer if it took on a lil more of a gothic/noir/thriller vibe along with the obvious futuristic elements though.
JBatesyFilmreviews - 7/10/2011, 11:02 AM
Paul Newman does have the look, shame he died...
PaulRom - 7/10/2011, 11:04 AM
An R-rated Batman Beyond would be interesting, but like @ZeroEthic said, after Dark Knight I don't think an R rating's necessary. But I want a BB film to be bloody. :P
And yeah, I think a Beyond film is the best way to continue the Batman franchise, instead of rebooting the crap out of it.
skidz - 7/10/2011, 11:37 AM
If the Dark Knight is any indication, the movie doesn't need an R rating to be extremely dark, violent and moody.
skidz - 7/10/2011, 11:41 AM
Garret Hedlund as Terry, Stephen Lang as Bruce Wayne, Hugh Laurie as Derek Powers, Tom Selleck as Warren McGinnis
skidz - 7/10/2011, 11:42 AM
Thank God Keanu never got his hands on that part.
GTHMbyGasLight - 7/10/2011, 11:44 AM
Paul Newman BULLS**T!! The only actor great enough to capture that old grough Bruce Wayne .... CLINT EASTWOOD.
skidz - 7/10/2011, 11:49 AM
Can anyone actually picture Clint Eastwood in the BB batsuit? The closest thing to sciencefiction he's done in recent memory is Space Cowboys. Stephen Lang has Avatar and Conan, he'd probably be much more comfortable in Gotham City.
sonofsamadams - 7/10/2011, 11:51 AM
I think if they ever wanted to do BB movie, they should follow up the Nolan batman movies.
SuperDude001 - 7/10/2011, 11:58 AM
GTHMbyGasLight @ How does Eastwood suit Bruce Wayne at all? And since when has he been a GREAT actor? Okay maybe better than average but he isn't that good.

skidz @ That would be cool, but isn't Hugh Laurie a bit old for Derek Powers?

Justsomeawesomeguy @ That's almost exactly what I've been thinking lol.
RunDTC - 7/10/2011, 12:11 PM
doesn't an R-rated adaption of a KID'S CARTOON seem somewhat odd?
revloveR - 7/10/2011, 12:20 PM
a Beyond film would be better than a [frick]ing reboot which is what WB/DC will do after nolan's done.
dmm5 - 7/10/2011, 12:23 PM
Wow, never thought about a Batman Beyond movie..... Well I don't know about the casting but should definitely follow up to Nolan's film about 50-60 years later. It's a risk but can pay off if done wisely with the story and all. Doesn't have to be Rated-R, which The Dark Knight has shown, to have that serious tone.
MJPETTY7 - 7/10/2011, 12:26 PM
Batman Beyond was the Batman I grew up with. I would love a BB movie. R isn't really necessary though (like people above said), because of Nolan's Batman franchise WB/DC could get away with a PG-13 Batman Beyond movie. I'm hoping it'll happen, Keanu Reeves... Not so much.
GreenHalJordan - 7/10/2011, 12:45 PM
look WB, heres the thing.
Batman Beyond can be an opening to a new audiance and a new era of bat films. Seriously, bruce wayne is awesome. but i want a Beyond film. Either that or give me Dick Grayson Robin or Nightwing. And it doesnt have to be R, TDK proved a pg-13 movie can still keep its rating while on the edge of breaking the boundries. (no i dont think it should have been R, but it was a pretty dark pg-13 movie)
riddlemethis09 - 7/10/2011, 12:46 PM
I would definitely like to see a Beyond film. Seems like an interesting direction to go in after Rises, and as others said, won't reboot the crap out of Batman.
PaulRom - 7/10/2011, 12:59 PM
@RunDTC It wasn't THAT kid friendly. Sure a lot of young ones watched it, but it was rather mature compared to other kid's cartoons (such as Inque going down Terry's mouth, etc). But yeah an R rating sounds a bit extreme.
@Sirprize Totaly agree!

Anyways, here's my cast:
Terry McGinnis - Emile Hirsch
Bruce Wayne - Clint Eastwood or Stephen Lang
Barbara Gordon - Meryl Streep
Derek Powers - Robert DeNiro or Hugh Laurie
Terry's parents - Bryan Cranston/Amy Adams
golden123 - 7/10/2011, 1:05 PM
I never liked that series that much. I wouldn't be for a Batman Beyond. I would like the studio to stick to adaptions of mainstream continuity.
TheStranger - 7/10/2011, 1:19 PM
As long as it didn't effect a current live action Batman film franchise I say sure, I liked the animated series, not nearly as much as the regular Batman stuff or comics but it was pretty decent.
LOL - 7/10/2011, 2:11 PM
the narrator for the batman beyond promo #3 sounds a heck of a lot like Peter Cullen's voiceovers.
RunDTC - 7/10/2011, 2:12 PM
@PaulRom: like the casting choices.
sbdc1939 - 7/10/2011, 2:14 PM
I was in high school when the show came out so being the a big batman fan i really took to this show. I thought a movie would of been great to see because it relates to a different audience like spider-man's peter parker does.
yankeemanf - 7/10/2011, 2:42 PM
that couldve been an unbelievable movie
bayouboyz - 7/10/2011, 2:56 PM
I think they should go with Batman Beyond after The Dark Knight Rises. It can stay in continuity the Nolan's films, and it would be ok if they get a different director because the film would take place in the future. The future setting would call for a different look and feel that a new director could provide. This is a way WB could reboot without starting over. I want to see progress in Batman's story, unlike The Amazing Spider-Man. I want to see Batman's story from beginning to end.
Optimus83 - 7/10/2011, 3:28 PM
Batman need a spinoff of Batman Beyond, with Milo Ventimiglia as Terry McGinnis/Batman and Clint Eastwood as the old Bruce Wayne, the only original Batman. ...
captquirk - 7/10/2011, 3:35 PM
This has winner written all over it. I'm surprised they passed this for Nolan.
Nostalgic14 - 7/10/2011, 3:48 PM
Nice. I was a big fan of the animated series. And Paul Newman looks exactly like old Bruce Wayne in that photo.
skylarscar - 7/10/2011, 4:06 PM
"Actually, we had to go get approval through the writers' guild because three-writer teams have to get approval."
And that is a perfect example of how ridiculously stupid unions are.
Moonwalker1991 - 7/10/2011, 5:09 PM
Like the idea. But why the F*** would a Batman Beyond movie be rated R?
Knightstalker - 7/10/2011, 5:39 PM
I still think they should do something with a live action Static Shock, whether it be on the big screen or on Television. I think a TV version would likely work better, but I'm not anywhere near Hollywood so what do I know?
revloveR - 7/10/2011, 6:02 PM
damn. ya'll want clint eastwood to be the token old comic book hero guy? i guess he's cool. he's no ryan reynolds though. :)
NeoBaggins - 7/10/2011, 6:07 PM
WOW! I don't even remember hearing about them planning this. Dodged a bullet on this one. Batman's film history already has a few blemishes, this would have been a disaster.
TheBaldPat - 7/10/2011, 6:08 PM
I'm w GTHMbyGasLight - Eastwood FTW!
militantcharles - 7/10/2011, 6:33 PM

DPeterParker - 7/10/2011, 6:34 PM
@Intruder...that batsuit is legit! i would go see a BB movie, but i wouldnt be excited til after i seen the previews...also i dont think ppl outside of comic book fans are ready for a batman thats not bruce wayne just yet.
militantcharles - 7/10/2011, 6:35 PM
superman78 - 7/10/2011, 7:20 PM
I love Beyond. I think it is the next logical direction after The Dark Knight. Also, let me say a little prayer of thanks: "Oh great and powerful god, thank you for not putting Keanu Reeves in a Batman movie. Amen." Can any of you imagine being subjected to Ted Theodore Logan learning how to be the new Batman? Crap.
NeoBaggins - 7/10/2011, 7:39 PM
I think the next "logical" step would be the Dark Knight storyline from the Frank Miller book. After that you could do all kinds of crazy stuff like seven different robins, Batgirls and Batmen beyond.
tophercruz - 7/10/2011, 9:08 PM
Quite honestly, I would've loved to see a Batman Beyond film. But if it is ever to be done, it
better be handled with the utmost respect. Right now, I don't think we're ready to see Terry in the cinemas, and I'd rather see them flesh out the rest of the DC universe instead of focusing on the Bat family.
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