DC Comic’s top vigilante-hero Batman has seen his ups and downs when it comes to adaptations. From the goofy days of Adam West and shark repellant to Ben Affleck’s gritty, modern interpretation of the Caped Crusader, there is seemingly an on-screen version of Batman for everyone. And then there are the tales of Batman-never-to-be, the adaptations that were killed off well before ever leaving the movie studio doors.
The recent revelation that Coolio was once tapped to play the Scarecrow in one of Joel Schumacher’s scrapped Batman movies has brought forth a flood of recollections about failed Batman reboots, like the time Schumacher wanted to introduce the daughter of Jack Nicholoson’s Joker, Harley Quinn — played by Courtney Love.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the planned film, “Batman Unchained,” would have been directed by Schumacher and written by “The Cell” writer Mark Protosevich. The script was nearly complete before Warner Bros. canned the project due to the financial failure of Schumacher’s “Batman & Robin,” the first “Batman” movie at the time to lose money since Tim Burton first brought the franchise to the big screen.
In “Batman Unchained,” Love’s Harley Quinn would have been a sadistic-though-playful toymaker who discovers the Joker was her real father. The revelation puts her on a one-way revenge-fueled crash course with Batman, who she blames for slaying the character in the 1989 film. Quinn would have teamed up with Scarecrow, played by Nicholas Cage (Coolio wasn’t in the picture just yet), who somehow learned that Bruce Wayne was Batman. This was still during the era when George Clooney was Batman and Chris O’Donnell played Robin, though Alicia Silverstone’s Batgirl is noticeably absent from the script.
At this point, keen-eyed readers will likely have noted that Harley Quinn is not the Joker’s daughter. First introduced in “Batman: The Animated Series,” the character is the Joker’s second-in-command, sometimes depicted as a lover, other times depicted as an obedient minion, but never as a daughter. The role would have been as a big a stretch for Love, who had just come off playing Althea Leasure Flynt in “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” as it would have been for the “Batman” canon.
Protosevich got as far as having lunch with Love to discuss the role before the financial reality of “Batman & Robin” became apparent. Warner Bros. executive Tom Lassally asked to see the script, which was still very early, and shortly after the project was put on indefinite hold. The script called for cameos from Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey and Jack Nicholson returning to his role as the Joker. Protosevich’s script was lambasted for how expensive it would have been to produce, and “Batman Unchained” became the stuff of Hollywood infamy.
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