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Joe Dante Almost Directed 'Batman' Starring John Lithgow as The Joker


I've spoken before about my desire to go to an alternate dimension where Neil Gaiman and Guillermo Del Toro made Doctor Strange or David Lynch directed Return of the Jedi. Well, there's another abandoned comic book film that's been brought to light, and it's going to make you wish you were a permanent resident of whatever dimension is housing these versions of popular films. 

Gremlins director Joe Dante recently sat down to talk with Psychotronic Cinema about his long and lustrous career, and Dante revealed that there was a time—immediately after the release of Gremlins—when he was working on developing a new Batman film that would have strayed far from the campy 60s series...

"Well, the Batman that I was going to do would have been completely different from what they ended up making. This was right after Gremlins, and Tom Mankiewicz, who had written a lot of James Bond movies, had done this take on Batman which was certainly not Chris Nolan-dark, was certainly darker than the TV version. It started with his parents being killed, and it was a revenge story. But it was very outlandish, had a lot of giant props in it. The Joker was a major character in it. I wanted to hire John Lithgow for that part because I had met him on The Twilight Zone movie. And for whatever reason, I started to gravitate more towards The Joker than towards Batman. And I actually woke up one night and I said to myself, 'I can’t do this movie—I’m more interested in The Joker than I am in Batman, and that’s not the way it should be.' So I went and told them that I couldn’t do it, and they looked at me like I’d completely lost my mind. But in the end, I think I was not the right guy to do the movie."

Well, that really sucks. While I do still consider Tim Burton's Batman to be one of the definitive takes on the character, can you imagine what Joe Dante would have done with it? Not only that, but John Lithgow as The Joker? Mid-80s Lithgow at that? Like many other failed projects before it, this one seems like it was just too beautiful for this wicked world. Oh well, maybe when we die, we'll get to go to a place where these movies exist. 

Steve attanasie

Steve Attanasie

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