EXCLUSIVE: ‘Book Of Eli’ Directors Offered ‘The Dark Knight Returns’… With Clint Eastwood As Batman?!

Here’s another one for the ol’ “What If?” files — and this time around, the almost-happened project is a big one, and close to comics fans’ hearts. While chatting with “The Book Of Eli” directors The Hughes Brothers, the pair revealed to MTV News that years ago they almost found themselves behind the camera for a big-screen adaptation of “The Dark Knight Returns,” Frank Miller’s much-beloved tale of a retired Batman well past his prime who is called back into service.

“Three different Batman projects were presented to us over the years,” revealed Albert Hughes. “The first time, it was ’The Dark Knight [Returns].’ I remember how dark the comic book was. Batman was old. He had to rely more on his tools and other sh–, and he was a decrepit, 60- or 70-year-old man in this comic book.”

But that’s not the most mind-blowing part of their tale. Possibly the most interesting aspect of their story is who they had in mind to play the role of an aged Bruce Wayne.

“I remember saying to them back then, ’We want to do this, and you should get somebody like Clint Eastwood to do it,'” he added.

However, one of the reasons the project never came to be was the studio’s realization that it would likely mean the end of the Batman franchise, according to Albert.

“Basically, what we were telling them it was the death of their franchise, ” he laughed. “Looking back now, we definitely would’ve killed that franchise.”

Even so, the directing duo behind “Menace II Society” and “Dead Presidents” agreed that the world of Batman and Superman really wasn’t their thing — even though they already had one comic book adaptation (2001’s “From Hell,” based on Alan Moore’s Jack the Ripper story) under their belts.

“It was a different regime at the time at Warner Brothers, and they did offer it to us a couple times, but we were never going to do that,” said Allen Hughes. “Nolan’s done a phenomenal job with Batman — especially the first one — and that’s what we would’ve done if we were interested, but we were never going to do a Batman or Superman movie. I know we couldn’t do that.”

“After our first movie, we were getting offered everything, but we’re not capable of delivering a corporate project like that,” agreed Albert. “It’s not in our blood.”

“The tragedy is that they actually made a movie called ’The Dark Knight,’ but it wasn’t [Frank Miller’s] ’Dark Knight,'” he added. “It wasn’t what fans know as ’The Dark Knight.'”

Think the Hughes Brothers could’ve handled “The Dark Knight Returns”? Let us know in the comment section or on Twitter!