Joe Barton is looking back on what could have been.
The “Giri/Haji” TV writer took over “The Batman” spinoff series at HBO Max, tentatively titled “Gotham City P.D.” Terence Winter (“Boardwalk Empire”) was very briefly attached as showrunner, but was later replaced by Barton. Ultimately, Warner Bros. Discovery decided to part ways with the concept entirely, and reimagined the series as a “horror movie or a haunted house” centered on Gotham mental institute Arkham Asylum, according to executive producer Reeves. “The Staircase” showrunner Antonio Campos is now helming the series.
“It was pretty chaotic when I was doing my thing there so in a way, I didn’t get to avoid the chaos. I think we were slightly the first wave of that chaos,” Barton said of the scrapped series to Variety amid the Warner Bros. Discovery merger, which also saw the shelving of completed DC film “Batgirl.”
Barton worked on the series for a year before exiting the project, calling it something he will always “regret” not bringing to the screen.
“I think the [Discovery merger] happened about halfway through the process, which had already been really, really rocky. I think it would have been really great and that’s kind of why I feel gutted about it, just because I know we would have made a great show,” Barton continued. “And so that’ll always be for me a regret, because I just think it would have been really super cool. But it just wasn’t to be.”
Barton admitted that the scale of production would be “challenging” if it ever reached that point. “If the development of it is anything to go by, the actual fucking making of it, I think would have been – yeah, fucking intense probably,” Barton said. “So in that respect, I’m kind of glad. It was definitely stressful. It was a really stressful period and I was working on it for a year, but I was doing it at the same time as this [‘The Bastard Son & The Devil Himself’ series], ‘The Lazarus Project’ and a few other bits. It was slightly mad. But yeah, I guess I will always regret the show that we could have made, but I think I’ll probably live longer without the stress it would have caused.”
“The Batman” writer/director Reeves previously likened the “Gotham City P.D.” concept to “Prince of the City” set in the first year leading up to Batman’s origin story. “But it wasn’t going to be a Batman story,” Reeves explained earlier this year. “It was going about this corrupt cop, and it was going to be about how the worst gang in Gotham were the G.C.P.D. And [Bruce] would have touched paths with Gordon [Jeffrey Wright]. It would have been someone to measure him against, but it would be a battle for his soul.”
Reeves said the series was going to be “super cool, [but] they didn’t not like the idea, they just wanted to center a show on a character who was more — I get it,” citing a shift away from such a corrupt lead. “So I was like, OK. So maybe someday we’ll do that show.” Instead, the Arkham Asylum series is in the works, along with a “Scarface”-esque “The Penguin” series starring Colin Farrell.
Meanwhile, screenwriter Barton has since been tapped to pen the new “Cloverfield” film with BAFTA winner Babak Anvari directing. To note, “The Batman” director Reeves previously helmed the first “Cloverfield” movie and is serving as an executive producer alongside J.J. Abrams on the upcoming film.