It’s a really interesting interview, but the part where he talks about his rejected pitch for Batman leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The implication seems to be Warner Bros was too timid to go with his grand, bold vision, and went for Chris Nolan instead. Come on, Joss, you don’t need to do this, it smacks of trying to put down the director of the movie that is your movie’s biggest competitor this summer. Just enjoy your success, no need to talk trash about other people and other movie.
Okay, fine: It was a while ago, between the day-glo Joel Schumacher sequels and the Chris Nolan reboot (which Whedon loves, don’t get him wrong.) There was a lot more, in Whedon’s take, about the orphaned Bruce Wayne as a morbid, death-obsessed kid. There was a scene—Whedon used to well up, just thinking about it—where young Bruce tries to protect this girl from being bullied in an alley, an alley like the one his parents were murdered in.
“And he’s like this tiny 12-year-old who’s about to get the shit kicked out of him. And then it cuts to Wayne Manor, and Alfred is running like something terrible has happened, and he finds Bruce, and he’s back from the fight, and he’s completely fine. And Bruce is like, ‘I stopped them. I can stop them.’ That was the moment for me. When he goes ‘Oh, wait a minute; I can actually do something about this.’ The moment he gets that purpose, instead of just sort of being overwhelmed by the grief of his parents’ death.”
So he goes in and pitches this. He’s on fire, practically shaking. “And the executive was looking at me like I was Agent Smith made of numbers. He wasn’t seeing me at all. And I was driving back to work, and I was like, ‘Why did I do that? Why did I get so invested in that Batman story? How much more evidence do I need that the machine doesn’t care about my vision? And I got back to work and got a phone call that Firefly was cancelled. And I was like, ‘It was a rhetorical question! It was not actually a request! Come on!'”