Unmade Batman Vs Superman Is ‘Darkest Thing You’ve Ever Seen’
Black and blue, God versus man, day versus night: an early Batman vs Superman film was set to be ‘the darkest thing you’ve ever seen’.
Zack Synder’s vision of ‘the greatest gladiator match in the history of the world’ is arguably the most polarising superhero film of all time. The hype around it was immense, with decades of anticipation on the line.
Before Ben Affleck’s caped crusader and Henry Cavill’s man of steel came to blows in 2016’s Dawn of Justice, Warner Bros. had plans for the two heroes to face off at the turn of the millennium.
In a recent interview with Collider, screenwriter, producer and director Akiva Goldsman discussed working on the script for the earlier film. Notably, it was set to be helmed by The Perfect Storm and Das Boot director Wolfgang Petersen, with Jude Law as Superman and Colin Farrell as Batman.
Se7en’s Andrew Kevin Walker was initially hired to pen the screenplay, already an indication of the tone producers were looking to strike. When he departed the project, Goldsman stepped in.
I wrote on… this version of Batman v Superman [around 2001 or 2002]. We were in prep and it was the darkest thing you’ve ever seen. It started with Alfred’s funeral and Bruce has fallen in love and renounced being Batman, the Joker kills his wife, and then you discover it was all a lie. Just that the love itself was constructed by the Joker to break [Bruce].
Alas, Petersen’s film was not meant to be. As the modern superhero boom kicked off with X-Men and 2002’s Spider-Man, DC movies were still re-calibrating after the late 90s Batman films, far different from the suave, game-changing grittiness of Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins in 2005.
It was a time where you would be able to get these sort of stories together in script form but they couldn’t quite land in the world. Somehow, the expectations of the object – whether they be audience or corporate or directorial – it wasn’t landing quite in the way I think we imagined when we put them on the page.
As a result, we wouldn’t see the two superheroes duke it out until 2016. However, Dawn of Justice didn’t evoke euphoria on the mass scale one would expect. Generally, critics weren’t impressed, with a 28% rating on Rotten Tomatoes angering its fiercely loyal fan-base.
Dawn of Justice is undoubtedly an epic movie – it has the most billable headline fight of all-time, after all – but one that indulges itself in style over coherent, compelling storytelling. That said, the extended ‘Ultimate Edition’ is a far superior experience.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]