It’s been a little over 4 years since comic book fans got to witness one of the best live action versus battles between superheroes on the big screen. But right before Captain America and Iron Man faced off in The Russo Brothers’ Captain America: Civil War, Batman and Superman faced off in similar fashion in Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Upon its release, critical reviews ranged from mixed to negative, while fans seemed a bit more receptive to Snyder’s vision. Despite being scrutinized in recent years though, the film remains a staple within the comic book culture because it marks the first time in the superhero film genre that two characters of this stature went toe to toe. Sure, Steve and Tony may have done it better, but they didn’t do it first. What’s most remarkable about the film is that it actually almost happened a lot sooner.
At the beginning of the century, prior to earning an Academy Award for his work on A Beautiful Mind, writer Akiva Goldsman worked on a much different film that saw The Dark Knight and The Man of Steel face off. While it was ultimately scrapped, details of the (hypothetical) production have surfaced throughout the years here and there. This week, in an exclusive interview with Collider, Goldsman went into rich detail about his experience making the film, and even offered some brand new information about who would have played the two lead characters.
“I wrote on […] this version of Batman v Superman [around 2001or 2002]— when Colin Farrell was cast as Batman and Jude Law was cast as Superman and Wolfgang Petersen was directing —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]. 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.”
Imagining the project now, it would have been mind-blowing to see Farrell and Law play these heroes at the time. Since then, both have become no stranger to comic book films. Farrell portrayed Bullseye in Marvel’s first incarnation of Daredevil, and is also slated to play an innovated version of Oswald Cobblepot a.k.a The Penguin in Matt Reeves’ upcoming The Batman. On the other hand, one of Law’s most recent roles was Yon-Rogg in Captain Marvel. Despite still being undeniable superstars, had the film prevailed, I wonder how much their careers might have changed.
In the same interview, Goldsman attributes creative differences to being the reason the project lost life at Warner Bros. Had the project not been scrapped though, we most certainly would have never received Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, as Batman Begins was greenlit and produced a little over two years after the studio passed on Goldsman’s idea.
The project did still live on in some way though. Goldsman actually included an easter egg for the unproduced film in I Am Legend, a project he would later write and produce. In one scene depicting the post-apocalyptic Manhattan landscape, you can catch a brief glimpse of the film’s poster. Funny enough, Warner Bros. used a similar design for the real Batman v Superman film in 2016.
What do you guys think of the Batman v Superman film that never was? Could you imagine Colin Farrell or Jude Law in those respective roles? Let us know what you think in the comment section below! Be sure to follow the Kernel Blog for more movie-related news and content like this!