Illustration for article titled Why Did We Never See Neal Stephensons Future-Batman Movie?

Batman Beyond, the darkest and most futuristic animated Batman series, came close to becoming a live-action movie before Warners decided to go with Bat-origin story Batman Begins instead. The story of a teenager who becomes the new Batman in the dystopian future of 2040, thanks to a cybernetic Batsuit, Batman Beyond could have been the Bat-version of Blade Runner. Especially when you realize that Snow Crash author Neal Stephenson consulted on the script, written by animated czars Paul Dini and Alan Burnett. What would it have been about?


The original pilot episode of Batman Beyond offers plenty of potential for a movie. It's 20 years in the future, and the original Batman is no longer able to fight crime as well as he used to. One night, chasing a criminal gang, Bruce Wayne has a heart attack, and has to resort to threatening a thug with a gun, something he swore never to do. So Batman finally retires — until 20 years after that, when teenager Terry McGinnis flees a gang of Jokerz (Joker wannabes) and stumbles into the Batcave, discovering Bruce's cybernetic Batsuit. He ends up fighting a whole host of weird future villains, including a deaf sound expert named Shriek and a mutated WayneCorp CEO named Blight.

I loved Batman Begins, but I'd way rather have seen the origin of a twisted future Batman, working with the embittered, broken old Bats. With Stephenson's help, the Batman Beyond movie could have been a fascinating look into Terry's relationship with the suit that extends his capabilities, in the corrupt future world. Just as long as they left out the stuff that was added later (in Justice League Unlimited) about superspy Amanda Waller injecting Terry's dad with a retrovirus designed to turn his sperm into Bruce Wayne's sperm, so Terry could be Bruce's biological son. Nobody needs a movie about Bat-sperm.


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