In hindsight, it’s funny to think that over a decade ago, in 2004, the reputation of Batman was so tarnished that when screenwriter David S. Goyer attended San Diego Comic Con to promote Christopher Nolan‘s “Batman Begins,” he was asked point blank: “How can you guarantee this movie won’t suck?” At the time, fans had a right to be concerned. Joel Schumacher had taken the character to some serious lows with “Batman Forever” and “Batman & Robin,” and Warner Bros. had been desperately trying to figure out how to revive the hero. And so they started looking around at different ideas, one of them being “Batman: Year One” centered around a much older Bruce Wayne (think Clint Eastwood) with Darren Aronofsky slated to direct, but it fell apart (here’s why). And among the many concepts being batted around at the time was “Batman vs Superman.”
Had things gone differently, Wolfgang Petersen (“Das Boot,” “A Perfect Storm“) would’ve directed the showdown between the Man Of Steel and the Caped Crusader, with a script first written by Andrew Kevin Walker (“Seven“), and given a final pass by Akiva Goldsman (“Batman Forever,” “I Am Legend“). However, not everyone within the studio was keen on the idea, nor with putting Superman in a darker movie than audiences have seen from the character previously (do those complaints sound familiar?). Plus, J.J. Abrams had floated a script for a standalone Superman (which ultimately didn’t get made), and the studio was keen on keeping their two major properties separate. So the showdown was scrapped, Nolan’s film went ahead, and the decision was seen as a smart move.
” ‘Batman Vs. Superman’ is where you go when you admit to yourself that you’ve exhausted all possibilities,” Goyer told the LA Times in 2005. “It’s like ‘Frankenstein meets Wolfman‘ or ‘Freddy Vs. Jason.’ It’s somewhat of an admission that this franchise is on its last gasp.”
Eleven years later, Goyer’s comments are ironic given he wound up writing “Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice” with Chris Terrio. And while it would be a stretch to call ‘Dawn Of Justice’ a “last gasp,” the movie certainly highlights what a muddle it is to put Batman and Superman in the same movie fighting each other —particularly one that gooses up the brooding of Bruce Wayne and his inclination for high-tech weaponry. In fact, it’s interesting to contrast the current Batman with the one that Goyer helped write in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, which the director described this way over a decade ago: “What I wanted to do is make the audience believe in the reality of this character,” he said. “Batman is unique among superheroes in presenting that opportunity. He really is just a guy that does a lot of push-ups.”
Well, Batman is doing a lot more than push-ups now… “Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice” is now playing.