After that title I have a lot to live up to, but give me a minute. We all know that Marvel started up the wonderful MCU, and it is a triumph of film making, stretching across an unimaginably large scale. It is only set to get bigger and bigger, and if they can continue past phase 3 without stars like Robert Downey Jr and Chris Evans, then it could potentially go on indefinitely. DC are way behind them, but are fast tracking their universe to have a fully assembled Justice League by 2017. Many people hate on DC for having followed Marvel into the cinematic universe realm. But did they come up with the idea before Marvel? And I mean way before Marvel. Follow me back, all the way back to 1989.
This is Michael Keaton as Batman. Warner Bros released two films starring Keaton's Batman in 1989 (Batman) and 1992 (Batman Returns). Tim Burton directed both. In them, characters like Joker, Penguin and Catwoman were introduced, expanding the Bat-verse. After that, Warner Bros failed to bring back Keaton or Burton, but they continued, despite these set backs. They got Joel Schumacher and Val Kilmer for 1995's Batman Forever, indicating with the name how long they intended to continue making these films. This film introduced Chris O'donnell as Robin, giving more heroes to the world of Batman. Val Kilmer left after the film, but still Warner Bros insisted on making more. They got George Clooney, and threw in Arnold Schwarzenegger as a villain in an attempt to raise box office pay-off. However it failed, even with the continued presence of Chris O'donnell as Robin, and the inclusion of Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl. Three heroes! After this Warner Bros eventually gave up, but let's think about something else.
This is Nicholas Cage. This is Nicholas Cage in a Superman costume. No, it isn't Halloween. This was a costume test in 1997, when Tim Burton and Nicholas Cage were signed on to make "Superman lives". They were bringing back Superman, last seen on the big screen in 1987's "Superman 4: The Quest for Peace". What coincedental timing I thought, they were planning this all just as Batman and Robin came out. Then I realised, what if the intention was to bring back Tim Burton into the fold and join the heroes together after establishing Superman? What if they had even planned to go further?
Well then I found out that they did plan to go further. As it turns out, Warner Bros were already doing work on a sequel to Batman and Robin before that film was released. Imagine the sequel, apparently set to be named "Batman: Triumphant" coming out in 1999, where Batman fights the Scarecrow, after Superman Lives in 1998. We may have had a joint film come out by 2001. In fact, we almost did.
Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice is one of the most anticipated films of next year. However, in 2001, Akiva Goldsman brought a script to Warner Bros called Batman vs Superman. It was supposed to bring the two franchises back from their respectively stalled positions, and had a plot where Batman, who has been retired from crime fighting for five years, after the deaths of Robin, Commisioner Gordon and Alfred (WHAT!) is getting married to Elizabeth Miller. Clark Kent is down on his luck after getting divorced from Lois Lane, and serves as Bruce's best man at the wedding. However, Elizabeth is killed at the wedding by the Joker, and Bruce, blaming Clark, goes up against him, while Clark tries to start a relationship with Lana Lang in Smallville. The whole plot was orchestrated by Lex Luthor, who is the main antagonist. Maybe the best part of this is that Christian Bale was approached for the role of Superman.
That would be very different to what the DC cinematic universe is set to be today, but you still have to wonder, what would have happened if this film had happened? Could we have seen the Justice League come together in a film earlier than Iron Man was even thought of in Kevin Feige's garage? Maybe so. But we will never know, and I suppose we are getting a full universe from both companies now, but you still have to ask...