While there has been some talk on how Joel Schumacher’s Batman Unchained proposal would have turned out, it’s definitely not one to think of as possibly amazing. After all, it was greenlit after the rushes for Batman & Robin, so it had to be in the same vein.
Schumacher, on the other hand, had a different plan. When Unchained was canceled, he suggested a remake of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, with Clint Eastwood and Michael Keaton said to be in the running to portray Bruce Wayne’s elder self, and David Bowie set to reprise his role as the Joker. That was the extent of the discussion.
Rather of giving Schumacher his way, the studio found a middle ground by going darker and restoring the character to a more edgy tone centered on dread.
After realizing that his most powerful weapon, fear, was no longer effective, Bruce Wayne would have retired as Batman. At the same time, Dick Grayson is studying at Gotham University under Professor Jonathan Crane, who plans to use his pupils as guinea pigs to try out his fear poisons, leading to his transformation into Scarecrow. Man-Bat would appear to complete the terror spectrum, leading Gotham’s residents to believe he was Batman himself, compelling Wayne to return, clear his reputation, and save Robin.
In the end, Warner Bros. declined, preferring to concentrate on Year One and Batman Beyond. You know how wonderfully they worked out together…