Why Batman and Superman Mashup is a Bad Idea–And Reveals Warner Bros. Weakness

Why Batman and Superman Mashup is a Bad Idea--And Reveals Warner Bros. Weakness

You know Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink”? That moment when you look at something and you know it’s wrong? That happens to me when studios announce a new project that is a really bad idea.

Some movies based on good ideas just turn out badly, and plenty of great movies turn out to to be less than commercial, or cost too much to turn a profit.

Then there are movies that are just not ever going to work with audiences, where the degree of difficulty is too high, or the potential for getting it wrong is too great. Or else it’s just not the right time. Many of us saw coming a long way off the inevitable disappointments “Cowboys & Aliens,” “Battleship,” and “The Lone Ranger” (which had its pleasures, but was never going to make money).

Sure, it’s a major power move for Warner Bros. to announce at Comic-Con that they’re putting two of the biggest comic heroes of all time in one movie. You can almost hear them saying, “Take that, Marvel!” But as Warners rushes headlong into a project that is not “Justice League”–which calls for multiple DC superheroes to unite in one movie, as they did in Marvel’s global blockbuster “The Avengers”– they are in fact revealing weakness.

The Superman and Batman movie is a bad idea. 

Warner Bros. has been through many iterations of DC’s Batman at this point, from Tim Burton and Michael Keaton through Val Kilmer, George Clooney and finally, the winning Chris Nolan trilogy starring Christian Bale, who is now emphatically done with the franchise. So apparently, despite viral rumors, is Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who seemed to be set up for a sequel but has denied any intention to work on a non-Nolan Batman.

While Diane Nelson is supervising the D.C. universe, she isn’t running the creative on the movies the way Marvel’s Kevin Feige does. Even when Marvel’s long-term strategy under Feige became apparent, and was hugely successful: they carefully established major comic characters in one consistently high-quality movie after another that eventually yielded a unified world in which they could meet in “The Avengers.” 

Warner motion pictures under Jeff Robinov–who understands the comics world quite well–never got its act together regarding D.C. Each project changed and evolved under different directors, from Burton to Nolan to Snyder. “Green Lantern” was a bust. “Superman Returns” directed by Bryan Singer was almost a home run, but was too expensive and riddled with crucial errors. WB abandoned Singer’s carefully constructed world and started over from scratch. Which took years.

And Snyder’s “Man of Steel” didn’t get it quite right either. But it did score $630 million worldwide. Now Robinov is gone, after chafing under Warners’ new studio chief Kevin Tsujihara–who I met today at Comic-Con, which he has attended for years, he says, reminding me that he used to run DC. He’s the one making this call, to lean on “Man of Steel” collaborators Snyder and writer David S. Goyer again to unite Batman and Superman in a film, as they have in many comics. 

But Batman and Superman exist is distinct universes, as Goyer himself has said. Metropolis and Gotham are very different. It appears that Warners has opted to reboot Batman inside the Superman universe, en route to “Justice League.” This means casting a new Batman. It feels like WB is in a hurry, and slightly desperate. They aren’t taking the slow painstaking time to establish these characters inside a unified DC comic book world. 

Not only has Tsujihara lost his experienced studio head, but he’s losing financing partner Legendary to Universal. Clearly, CEO Thomas Tull was ready to move on and grow and expand as an active creative producer in a way that his accustomed relationship with Warners didn’t allow. The studio wasn’t willing to let Tull expand Legendary’s horizons. Now he can.

But Tsujihara doesn’t have a strong single experienced executive running the studio. For now he’s relying production president Greg Silverman (who has a close relationship with Nolan, Snyder and Goyer) and marketing president Sue Kroll to run Warner Bros. and Toby Emmerich to run New Line Cinema. Remember Paramount’s Gail Berman? Universal’s Marc Shmuger and David Linde? Disney’s Rich Ross? They were all creative, smart and successful execs who were moved into leadership roles with huge learning curves. It helps to have someone who really knows what they are doing in charge, or you can wind up with a $200 million write-off like “John Carter.”

Tsujihara is making a bold power move with this Superman Batman project. He’s sending a message to the town–especially Disney, with its mighty Pixar, Marvel, DreamWorks and Lucasfilm labels– that Warners is still strong and powerful. 

But that’s not the way to come out ahead. There’s only one way to do that. Make the right movie. The one that works for the fans. That’s hard to do. Harder than it looks. 

See the press release below:

On the heels of the worldwide success of “Man of Steel,” director Zack Snyder is bringing together the two greatest Super Heroes of all time—Batman and Superman—for the first time on the big screen.  The announcement was made today by Greg Silverman, President, Creative Development and Worldwide Production, and Sue Kroll, President, Worldwide Marketing and International Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures.

The current hit, “Man of Steel,” has taken in more than $630 million at the worldwide box office to date, and climbing.  Along with its star, Henry Cavill, the upcoming film brings back Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane.  The new Batman has yet to be cast.

Snyder is co-writing the story with David S. Goyer, who will then pen the screenplay.  Production is expected to begin in 2014, with an anticipated release date in Summer 2015.

Silverman stated, “Zack Snyder is an incredibly talented filmmaker, but beyond that, he’s a fan first and he utterly gets this genre.  We could not think of anyone better suited to the task of bringing these iconic Super Heroes to the screen in his own way.”   

Kroll added, “We are thrilled to be back in business with Zack and his team on this next movie.  The success of ‘Man of Steel’ is a wonderful testament to the love and support that both fans and new audiences, worldwide, have for these characters.  We are very excited to see what Zack has in store for all of us.”

 Diane Nelson, President, DC Entertainment, noted,“Superman and Batman together on the big screen is a dream come true for DC fans everywhere. All of us at DCEntertainment could not be more excited for Zack’s continuing vision for the DC Universe.”

Zack Snyder, who made a surprise appearance at Comic-Con today, breaking the news to audiences there, later said, “I’m so excited to begin working again with Henry Cavill in the world we created, and I can’t wait to expand the DC Universe in this next chapter.  Let’s face it, it’s beyond mythological to have Superman and our new Batman facing off, since they are the greatest Super Heroes in the world.”

The new film brings back Charles Roven and Deborah Snyder as producers. This time, Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas are serving as executive producers, along with Benjamin Melniker and Michael E. Uslan.

Thomas offered, “Whilst our ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy is complete, we have every confidence that Zack’s fresh interpretation will take the character in a new and exciting direction.  His vision for Superman opened the door to a whole new universe and we can’t wait to see what Zack does with these characters.”

The film is based on Superman characters created by Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster, and Batman characters created by Bob Kane, published by DC Entertainment.

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They're skipping over world's finest and going straight to "the dark knight returns" this movie shows a young superman with a Batman nearing the end of his career. That doesn't add up.


It IS a bad idea. It reeks of "Batman and Robin" and does indeed seem like a move of desperation. A movie needs to have a reason to exist … and that reason should not be to add revenue to a conglomerate's bottom line or to justify the jobs of very, very, very highly paid executives. It should be because there's a story that needs to be told or, in rare cases, because there's a clear audience demand. Hollywood is learning this year that movies are not soda-pop and fast-food; they cannot be packaged in the same way. Yes, some people will sample … but a declining number. But, at the end of the day, let WB follow this "paint-by-numbers" strategy of making movies to satisfy market research — they'll be the ones to fail, and you'll have a great story to tell!


Eh, I don't quite see how dissimilar it is to The Dark Knight Rises. Sure, it's louder, noisier and has a higher amount of catastrophic destruction, but it still sounds like something that's trying to get him as close to Batman as possible. Think of it like a buddy cop film. Is Batman someone who would even provide the right amount of contrast with their take on Superman? Or would it be like watching The Heat with Melissa McCarthy's character x2? And Batman, between the films, cartoons and video games is so over-exposed anyway that he could probably step into their Justice League movie (with absolutely NO set-up) and still get the entire audience to fill in all the gaps as to his characterization. Here's 10 they could have gone with for a more appropriate contrast for your audience to chew-on:

Power Girl (Justin Gray/Jimmy Palmiotti/Amanda Connor. Gold.)
Blue Beetle 3 (Jaime Reyes)
Plastic Man
Green Lantern (John Stewart. Draws slow-burn comparisons to the Paul Dini Justice League show.)
Captain Marvel
Aquaman (Do something close to how he is on that light team-up anthlogy show Batman: The Brave and the Bold and it'd be great)
Booster Gold (Superman might not agree with Booster's occasionally greedy sense of ethics, but he'd probably get him to lighten up more than BATMAN typically would)
Martian Manhunter (bonding over Oreos (Martian Manhunter LOVES Oreos in the comics, even if the brand name isn't used) in-between the bursts of plot)
Delirium (from Neil Gaiman's Sandman, allowing the studio to gauge possible audience acceptance of the rest of the Endless as characters)


What is disturbing about many of these comments is how deeply some fan-boys/men care about their "super heroes" and how very seriously they take these portrayals. If that is not a real hazard for any studio considering any new production, I cannot think what is.


Not only is this a bad idea, but MOS was terrible and that's with Chris Nolan babysitting the script and movie… WB wouldn't do it if Nolan was not involved cause they didn't trust Goyer or Snyder… Now Nolan is only the executive producer which means he won't be involved much… Nolan never wanted this Superman to include other DC characters.. he wanted a Superman Trilogy like Batman, but WB over-ruled him.. No wonder his not getting involved plus his filming Interstellar… What this shows is that WB didn't have confidence that a MOS sequel could stand on its own.. So they throw in Batman which very likely will have conflict with Superman in the beginning and then join forces to fight some villain or villains.. So is this a Superman movie or a Batman movie? I can't tell…. The actor that plays Batman better be good because no matter what he's going to be compared to Christian Bale…. Snyder, Goyer and Nolan couldn't handle just Superman and made this horrible movie and now they are suppose to handle, Superman, Batman and epic Villains in the same movie….. And it's gotta compete with Star Wars VII and Avengers 2… And whatever other movies come out that summer… Good luck….


Just another article kissing Marvel's posterior and ACTING is if Marvel's way is the only way of doing things. Where were you before Marvel did what they did and got it right? Probably writing articles like this one bashing them for daring to do something different and predicting their downfall. DC/WB is damned if they do and damned if they don't. If they "copy" Marvel – that's how it will seem. Now that they are taking a risk, bs articles like this spring up ACTING as if the writer knows swat about how these films will do. This is a bold move on DC/WB's part that will pay off handsomely. Mark my words – Man of Steel is the beginning of an amazing DC film universe.


This was a garbage article. I'm sorry, I'm really not that much of a people basher but it was garbage.

First off, I applaud DC/Warner for stepping up to the plate on this one. Does this have the potential to bomb? Yes, but all movies do. However, they are taking a risk here and it's the risk that NEEDS to be taken. Batman is going to have to be introduced if they are going to move toward a Justice League movie and the sooner the better. The Justice League doesn't stand a chance without Batman and a Batman/Superman movie is the perfect way to intro that character and improve upon Superman.
Second, Batman and Superman are the perfect foils for one another. Having them in the same movie will not only improve upon the already established Superman but will also give a fantastic platform to show how different Batman is from Superman. Both are good but go about it in completely seperate ways. Also, besides Batman/Superman the other DC characters don't have enough gravitas to stand up in their own feature film without the world being built up and teaming up bats/supes is a great way to do that.
Third, yes, Christopher Nolan's Batman just wrapped up a year ago. However, this means that the character of the Batman is still fresh enough in people's minds that we don't need a lot of backstory. Batman and Superman can get right into it without have another origin story. The differences between Nolan and Snyder's Batman will be seen as we progess through the film.

Of course this is a big risk for WB/DC…but when Snyder and co. do this right you're going to be eating a steady diet of crow for 3 square meals a day.

Anne Thompson

As I suggested in an earlier comment, I love Superman and Batman as much as anyone. And I could see the scenario you describe in a movie, it might work for the two heroes to offset each other, much the way that Marvel's Captain America is trying to function in a complex world where right and wrong are not as easy to evaluate as they were back in the 1940s. You're right, my lack of confidence stems from the executive side of WB/DC, the fact that I did not think Man of Steel was a home run–and the numbers are not as fabulous as WB would have you believe, given the costs–and I'm not sure that Nolan/Goyer/Snyder are on the right track with Superman, much less a rebooted Batman. And Goyer has admitted that Metropolis and Gotham are two different worlds–as defined in the movies thus far. Do the fans want to see this? Of course! Will they get what they want is the question.

The ryman

The below comment is better than this article.


This is a rubbish article. What exactly is your contention? You made a lot of assertions here, but you didn't really provide a basis for those assertions. Are you a D.C. fan? Are you either a Superman or a Batman fan? Are you familiar at all with the continuity of these characters?

Superman and Batman bring the best out of each other! I used to hate Superman. I couldn't help but think of him as the apotheosis of the overpowered, one-dimensional Superbore. I always thought he was a painfully uninteresting boyscout who lacked any depth. Until I saw the animated World's Finest film. It was then I realized that the contrasting moral philosophies that separate Superman and Batman make their chemistry really work, and that serves to distill the wonder and magic of both characters.

You realize that Kal El is just a genuine, lighthearted misfit who chooses to see the good in people and finds his place in the world by helping others. He's unyieldingly optimistic, even when those around him have given up hope.

A World's Finest movie really has the potential to bring out of Superman what we've wanted all along. He's the genuine, charming, goodhearted knight in shining armor whose character is really distilled by his interactions with a morally ambiguous neutral good character like Batman.

Plus, World's Finest is practical because it's giving Superman time to develop as a character AND it's reintroducing Batman. Batman NEEDS to be reintroduced to audiences, and doing it with a character who's already been established is better than taking a gamble with a solo film.

I really think people are overlooking the potential of this film.

The Batman

This is the perfect way to set up the DC film universe and get audiences excited about the introduction of the rest of the Justice League members. Batman requires no introduction at this point, and we've just been introduced to Superman in Man of Steel. Anyone who says these characters exist in separate universes doesn't know what they're talking about, as they've both been part of the main DC Comics continuity for decades.


I don't wish to attack you, but this was a very weak article. You gave facts that did not sway anyone in any direction. Maybe you were pressed for time, maybe it was late at night. I highly dissagree. I will see a Batman/Superman movie multiple times. You attracted reads with such a title that was a let down and almost sounds like someone hating


If Snyder was to use a fake alias or some kind of pen name for his movies, I guarantee the critics would start to love his movies, they just hate Zac Snyder and his love for action, IMO he completely blows Michael Bay out of the water his stories actually have a solid beginning middle and end, yes simple but totally a fun ones.


I don't really get the point of this article. DC/Warners isn't Marvel? If DC/Warners had a whole slew of other executives running the show then the films would be better? Man Of Steel's and Batman's film universes are too different ergo it's impossible to ever unite them until 5 years later when Superman and Lois have established their "agency"? DC/Warners need to hire Kevin Feige and Joss Whedon because that's who we want and we want it done right and done right now? A batman/superman team up=the sky is falling? Seriously, what is this writers point?

I'm always puzzled by(and I'm assuming the writer of this article is) DC fans and articles like these that seek to find answers or peace of mind or whatever with delusional What If's that are not remotely grounded in reality. It's going to happen the way DC/Warners wants it to happen. Snyder and Nolan and pretty much Goyer are in this for the long haul. They've just come off a huge financial success with Man Of Steel. Sure, I thought the film was lousy, but it was undoubtedly successful. So any vision going forward is solely Snyder and Nolan's.

I'm also curious about the writers particular implications for "bad idea". Is the writer under the assumption that a superman/batman team up will spell the end of any and all DC superhero films? What is the envisioned worst case scenario here? The film gets made and it's successful with a taste demographic that isn't yours? Be clearer.


This seems like a terrible idea to me, too. Correct me if I'm wrong, comic book readers, but wasn't the ending of the Superman movie the movie that fans actually wanted to see in the first place, ie. (spoiler alert!) Superman working at a paper with Lois and acting like a normal person to conceal the fact he's saving the world? So Warners are basically messing with the concept and creating an alternative world before the series has really started and the character has properly been established.

Also, I think what most people seemed to respond to with the last few Batman movies was its plausibility and the fact that he was technically a regular human being, from a physical standpoint. I imagine that when this guy who can't fly and doesn't have superhuman strength is paired up with an alien who can lift an oil rig out of the ocean, fly around and see through walls, it will look more or less like when Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner, bless their hearts, were paired up with the other Avengers for no reason.

Walter L

I hope the author realizes that Disney does not own Dreamworks.

I agree that this proposed Superman & Batman film is,a very poor idea at this time. As stated the DCU has not been very well realized in their cinematic universe yet and introducing a new Batman in a teamup or versus situation instead of his own stand-alone story doesn't much help the character retain his credibility and overall standing.

I think this will damage DC's overall brand and hurt those of Superman nd Batman for future films.

Brian W.

Well said Anne. If Warner wants to make a power play, they should do so with a good movie and the right project and the right people, not a guaranteed cash cow that will be compared to Avengers and Marvel. Already with the announcement of such a gargantuan mashup film, it seems inevitable that the level of hype, the speculation and the right/wrong discussion will be more interesting than the film itself, and it's an embarrassing position for every Hollywood blockbuster to be in. I wrote something of a rant on the very subject for my blog when I heard the news (http://brianwelk.com/2013/07/21/no-one-really-cares-about-the-supermanbatman-movie/) and I'm glad someone else is taking a step back and asking whether or not this is a good idea.


Wow has anyone ever read Miller's vastly acclaimed 'The dark knight returns'? It's considered one of the greatest graphic novels every published. A Superman v.s Batman premise has already been done, talk about uninformed.

Anne Thompson

It's not that I don't want to see a Batman Superman film, or that the fans won't want to see it. I'm afraid that Warners will muck it up.

Joe Leydon

The funny thing is, a Batman/Superman movie seems not just logical but inevitable to me, since — way, way back in the day — "World's Finest" was the first comic book series I ever read. It actually was the book that got me interested in reading the individual Superman and Batman titles. So if we're talking about box-office potential, I would daresay a Batman/Superman flick would have Baby Boomer nostalgia going for it right off the bat.

Of course, I also liked "Cowboys & Aliens," so there is that.

Anne Thompson

I also clarified that Joseph Gordon-Levitt has no intention of starring in a non-Nolan Batman movie.

Anne Thompson

I grew up reading the Batman and Superman comics (and Thor, Fantastic Four, etc) and know and love these characters. I added to the story the fact that Batman and Superman did in fact meet several times inside the DC universe back in the day. Presumably there is a story there that Goyer and Snyder can mine. I also added my argument that DC has yet to create a unified world–that Gotham and Metropolis are two different places. Marvel carefully made all its superheroes fit into one another over many movies. "The Green Lantern" isn't like "Man of Steel" which isn't like "The Dark Knight Rises."

I prefer the Singer smarter Superman movie (despite many mistakes, from Lex Luthor to Superman's kid) to Snyder's Man of Steel, which is well-cast but devolves into noisy action. My lack of confidence arises from the idea that WB considers this movie a success! It should have done much better than it did. You could argue that adding Batman to the equation is a sign that they recognize that this Superman needs help from another superhero costar. I feel like they are in a rush and desperate for tentpoles to shore up their position in the marketplace, not concerned about giving the DC universe the tender loving care that Marvel gets.

The recent string of flops from Disney was partly the result of putting in a new studio chief with no movie experience, who has been replaced by ex-Warners exec Alan Horn.

screw it

lost all respect for Snyder. And shut it you egoistic idoits that think that battyboy has a one in a million of a chance against supes, without using a kryptonite gun something. Retarded idea and gonna be a retarded film. Love supes, love bats, just dun wanna see them all over each other like in a few of the fail 1960 comics


Oh, and just because you like a film, doesn't mean it's any good. I agree with LS. Dark Knight Rises is a terrible film on so many levels. I found it unwatchable it was so bad. Tom Hardy is a BRILLIANT actor. He even does a decent job in Simon De Selva's LD50 which is impressive cause it's one of the worst sci-fi films ever made (De Selva makes Ed Wood look like a genius). But Hardy's role in this film stinks and I mean STINKS (which is Nolan's fault because of how he shot it, it's not Hardy's fault). But I can appreciate that other people like it regardless of this. Fair enough. I like plenty of bad films too. I just have the balls to admit they're bad.


I cannot imagine for one second how Batman could possibly trump Superman. It's just not credible. Period. This is going to be a SILLY film because whatever 'trick' is used to get passed this problem will be just plain daft and totally without credibility.


As other have stated, the author never really says why this is a bad idea. He alludes the lack of experience executives. To this, I would say – how many bombs have produced by people with tons of experience? (just look at Disney's recent track record) Also, a team of of these two is much less risky than a Justice League movie. A film that will definitely be compared to Avengers. Maybe 5 years out, they could do it, but definitely not sooner. As for casting, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as the new/younger Batman would provide continuity, without copying the latest Batman movies. All being said, a team-up movie has tons of possibilities with more on the good side, than on the bad.


You say why this shows WB's weakness, but there is not one sentence that offers a reason why this is a bad idea to put on screen. Revise your title.


Batman begins-pretty good
Dark Knight-Loved it
Dark Knight Rises-terrible
just had to point that out before my brain pops out. Nolan did ok with the franchise. He aint this savior we want though. He made batman (or THE BATMAN) too real. I liked man of steel, but it wasn't what i was hoping for.
This sounds like it could be genius. i don't think folk were expecting it either, which is a bonus.
Everyone is comparing marvel studios to DC, though that's a bit unfair. Marvel have had there plans in motion for a long time. Batman has been out, because of Nolan's perfect (Sarcasm) trilogy.


Instead of screwing up one Superhero, Zach Snyder now has the opportunity to screw up two. Just don't cast Armie Hammer, please don't.


I do agree this is a bad idea .. Too soon for new batman not even 3 years come on!!! And WB is loosing a lot of money not using bale

But you had to stop reading when u said JGL doesn’t wanna play sidekick … He became the batman at end of dark knight rises..

Incremental Jones

Fanboys, I hate to tell you but Batman and Superman on screen together reeks of desperation not inspiration, even if it's in the comic books (cough) graphic novels. At least we now know why Warners was so keen on keeping the title The Butler. I smell an Alfred spinoff!



This is one of the dumbest articles I have ever read! It's clear you have no idea what you are talking about. For the "reasons" you gave (which makes absolutely no sense what so ever) is the best you can come up with? Really?
The next time you decide to write some B.S. have some insight or knowledge on what it is your article is about. You're bashing the idea of Supes and the Bat in the same movie… why? Because????? No real reason, basically just "because".



Yeah, I agree with the previous comment. This article has little to no knowledge of the source material behind it. There is a whole plethora of comics, cartoons, and books to draw from here. Hell, I read the first draft of their script for Man of Steel (which had Bruce Wayne and Lex Luther in it) and I immediately knew that they already had a great idea for how to bring these two together. My mind has been going in all kinds of great directions since I read it. Bringing these 2 together is not nearly as complicated as you might think. Read their original script treatment and think about it for a few minutes. I dare you not to have a million interesting ideas for these characters. I have been talking about them teaming up as the next logical choice for almost a month now. I couldn't be happier to see that these guys are thinking exactly the way I am thinking. I mean just think about what this does for them. It allows them to update Batman for their new world without having to go back to origins story mode. It allows them to move flesh out Clark for audiences with another movie before Justice League. This is the smartest way to tackle the problem of having to create a new Batman after The Dark Knight. Truthfully, there is no other logical way to do it without starting the whole Batman series over and nobody wants to sit through a third origins story in 25 years. This is a smart move. The big question is on the script and the casting of Bruce Wayne. They need a star. Casting an unknown would be the biggest issue they could have, but I have faith. I'm excited.


So, why is it a bad idea exactly? You never state that clearly. You just talk about inexperienced studio execs, but how is the idea of having Batman and Superman teaming up in a movie be a bad idea? The Batman character is bigger than any one interpretation. If they can fix some of the problems of Man of Steel, this can be very good and successful.


So basing a movie off of a super popular comic, "Worlds Finest", is a bad idea? Using the source material is the wrong way to go? Avengers, iron man, captain America, Thor, are all examples of why using the source material actually works. Who ever wrote this article has no idea or appreciation for comics in the first place. The Christopher Nolan reboot of Batman was terrie right? Sorry, maybe the blatant sarcasm is over your head. Comparing the idea if a Superman/Batman movie to Battleship and Cowboys & Aliens is like comparing Star Wars to Battlefield Earth. Stop writing about material you know nothing about.

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