Its been a little over a year since Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was released and re-watching it recently made me realize that its just as bad now as it was back then. But I don't want to write an article about the huge fan disappointment in that film because its been done to death now. Instead, I want to take a look at that other Batman v Superman flick.
The 'Other' Batman V Superman
"What other Batman v Superman film?" I hear you ask. Well, first, a little back story. Back in 2002 it was rumored that a script for a #Batman versus #Superman movie was written, with every intent on it being filmed for a 2004 release. The script was simply called Asylum and was written by Andrew Kevin Walker, who also wrote the screenplays for Seven, 8MM, Sleepy Hollow as well as others. Walker was well known for his darker scripts. Revisions and updates were written by Akiva Goldsman, known for Batman Forever, Cinderella Man, The Da Vinci Code, as well as numerous other screenplays and scripts.
Side note: You know that Batman/Superman logo that appeared in I Am Legend?
Well, the reason it was included was due to the fact that Goldsman also wrote and produced I Am Legend. So, they decided to include a Batman v Superman logo in for fun — and they didn't have permission to do it, either. Director Francis Lawrence reveals in this interview with Collider:
Akiva [Goldsman] wrote that Batman/Superman and this was years before Constantine. Errr and then we were thinking of 'hey - like what movies would it be fun to put up that would have been on the screen when the plague hit that caused all the damage'. He [Akiva Goldsman] thought 'lets do Batman V Superman'.
Asylum is a rough script, but if you read it you can see the direction they intended to take these two characters. It was going to be a much darker tone than the previous Batman films. They even had director Wolfgang Petersen all set to direct the film, too. Christian Bale was rumored to play Batman (as if that would ever happen) with Jude Law for Superman. Petersen even gave an interview on his vision for the film with MTV back in 2002.
So, what was the plot of the story then? Well, The Joker is assumed dead after falling from the cathedral from Tim Burton’s Batman (1989). We learn that both Bruce and Clark are having a bit of a mid-life crisis after everything they have been through up to this point. Bruce has retired as Batman for five years now, while Lois Lane is divorcing Clark as his life as Superman is getting in the way of their relationship. Clark enters a depressive state and even thinks he is wasting his time on Earth protecting these petty humans.
Bruce gets married to a Elizabeth Miller, an intelligent and beautiful woman, while Clark ends up being best man at the wedding. During the honeymoon Elizabeth is killed by The Joker, who has been brought back from the dead by Lex Luthor — with science! It's also revealed that some crazy terrorist Superman rescued from an angry mob trying to kill him was, in fact, The Joker. Bruce blames Clark for saving The Joker’s life, which later allowed The Joker to kill his new wife. Batman wants The Joker dead, but Superman will not allow that to happen. This is where the start of the friction between the two titans begins.
They begin to fight even though they both realize the fighting is pointless and that they are being manipulated by Lex Luthor. Batman even comes very close to killing Superman with some Kryptonite. Batman eventually confronts The Joker and learns that his dead wife was really one of The Joker's creations all along. The Joker even gave Elizabeth a ring that she gave to Bruce with a Joker face engraved on the inside. This was The Joker making fun of “the world’s greatest detective” by placing a clue right under his nose.
Batman and Superman (who has recovered from his near death) team up and to take down The Joker and Lex Luthor.
That is a quick run down of the plot. The script itself goes into more detail if you want to give it a read.
Why Did This Film Never Happen?
There are plenty of rumors and speculation as to why not — from script problems to director disagreements. However, the most common reason I have found simply boils down to money. Apparently, Warner Bros. thought it could make more money if it released two separate films — one Batman film and one Superman film, which were also being worked on around the same time.
The WB’s Studio President at the time, Alan Horn, wanted to get J.J. Abrams’ Superman: Flyby as well as Darren Aronofsky’s Batman: Year One made into films instead (both of which never happened either). It is believed that WB felt it could make more money from the two separate films and ensuing merchandise from a single film featuring both characters.
Its a bit of a shame that greed lead to the death of Asylum. Even more so that we were robbed of a Batman origin story from the twisted mind of Darren Aronofsky or a new Superman film from J.J. Abrams.
The script for Asylum is definitely rough and certainly needed some work, but there are also some really interesting ideas in there that would have been great to have seen on the big screen. Even in the rough state that it is, Asylum sounded a far superior picture to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
To think that we almost got a Batman v Superman film in 2004.
What other films never made it to the screen that you still wish for?