On my podcast Superhero Stuff You Should Know, I decided to cover the mysterious Batman: Year One treatment/proposal that’s credited to the Wachowskis. I knew that Tim Maxwell at Neuverse Creative had produced an audio drama of it already and asked Tim to be a part of the episode. Tim agreed, as you can see here:
In the lead up to the podcast recording, however, Tim asked me to collaborate with him in expanding the Batman: Year One audio drama, with adding more dialogue.
The Wachowski treatment is an interesting one as we debated on the show whether or not it was real. There really aren’t any official records from the Wachowskis confirming anything about working on a Batman project. I’m personally of the opinion that it was fan fiction. Which did, in a way, give us more license to expand on it than if we were adapting a confirmed legitimate unmade script.
You can read the treatment yourself here: http://leonscripts.users5.50megs.com/scripts/BATMANYEARONEproposal.htm
I saw this as a chance to bring an old project to life- years ago, I attempted to put all the scenes of the (Post Crisis) Batman’s origin in order, from his discovery of the cave as a boy to the murder of his parents to his training to a comprehensive version of Year One that used other comics to fill in the gaps left by the original comic. Tim and I worked together here, with me mixing a lot of his dialogue with what was in the comics. We also added in dialogue from the Darren Aronofsky and Frank Miller Year One script. While we are doing an adaptation of that script as a prequel to The Batman, that version is more told from Bruce’s perspective, so certain scenes with Gordon didn’t make it into that adaptation. They had a chance to come to life here.
Here’s a breakdown of the different sources for some of the dialogue.
I. Alfred and Bruce’s Conversation
While Alfred and Bruce’s reunion isn’t in the Year One comic, it is covered by Dennis O’Neil in Legends of the Dark Knight #1. I brought some of this dialogue in as well as added Bruce referencing his vow to his parents, using Jeph Loeb’s phrasing from The Long Halloween.
2. Flass & Loeb
The next exchange was between Commissioner Loeb and Detective Flass. For this, I paraphrased a few lines from the Year One comic.
I was also given the opportunity to voice Detective Flass in this audio drama. While this is the first time audiences will hear me as Flass, it’s actually the second time that I’ve played the role! You’ll have to wait and see what the first time is…
3. Gordon vs. Loeb
The dialogue exchange between Gordon and Loeb is partially from the Wachowski treatment, but also from the Aronofsky-Miller script.
4. Alfred and Bruce
This scene draws from dialogue by Grant Morrison in Batman No. 682, as you can see below:
5. Harvey Dent and Gordon
A good chunk of this dialogue comes from the Aronofsky-Miller script, though I did lift a couple parts from the original comic.
6. Catwoman & Batman
This was probably the most challenging scene to cover and went through several variations. Batman and Catwoman don’t actually have a conversation in the original Year One comic, so I had to look into the comics to see where their early conversations were like. The comic book dialogue comes from writer Mindy Newell in the last issue of the storyline Catwoman: Her Sister’s Keeper.
Tim wanted this scene to give insight into Catwoman’s motivation and I played around with ways for her to reveal her background without it being a complete repeat of the rooftop scene in The Batman.
In this version, Tim had Catwoman as more of a crusader for the East End. I added a version of her vendetta against the Roman that tied into it without seeming like a repeat of The Batman or the comics where Falcone is her father.
I also wanted to hint at her having an arc with Batman planting the idea that she can help fight for the East End outside of stealing, which leads to her helping to take down the Roman at the end.
The exchange about her wanting to commit a crime in order to see Batman again and that “practice makes perfect” is from the Aronofsky and Miller script.
One puzzling moment in the treatment is that Batman and Catwoman exchange a kiss before she leaves. I tried to figure out how to add this in organically and eventually came to the idea that Catwoman uses it to distract Batman so she can get her loot back. The treatment, after all, isn’t clear on whether Catwoman actually gets her loot out of Loeb’s place when she and Batman escape from Gordon, so we had some freedom here.
7. Gordon with Batman, then Bruce
Tim and I discussed the portrayal of Gordon in this treatment, with Tim liking how much of a go-getter this Gordon was. The characterization felt closer to the one in the comic than the one presented in Batman Begins, who seemed to begrudgingly keep his head down to survive until Batman arrived. What we thought was interesting in this treatment was that, instead of the usual story where Batman tries to win over Gordon as an ally, it’s actually the reversal, with Gordon trying to ask Batman.
Another aspect was that, in a departure from the treatment and the original comic, Tim wrote a scene between Gordon and Bruce where Bruce wasn’t pretending to be drunk and with Gordon opening up about wanting to ally himself with Batman. I thought it’d be cool to take that even further, with implying that Gordon isn’t fooled by Bruce’s alibi and may actually have figured out that he’s Batman. This gave us an opportunity to play with a lot of subtext here as in the rest of the scene, Gordon communicates to Bruce, hoping that he’s Batman, while Bruce tries to keep Gordon at arm’s length until he hears Gordon’s intentions and attempts to give him hope that he’ll consider.
8. The Batcave
Some of the exchange here between Alfred and Bruce comes from Legends of the Dark Knight No. 2, written by Dennis O’Neil, when they are setting up the Batcave.
9. Gordon and Batman
I added another hint from Gordon that he knows Bruce is Batman in the final Batman and Gordon exchange.
The idea that Batman doesn’t immediately say “yes” came from Tim, which I loved since it gives more of an impact to him showing up to help take down Joker at the end!