The 26th of this month sees one of the biggest movie releases of this year. The teaming up of two giant comic book legends. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will be the first live action big screen outing of these two titans of the comic book world sharing the same screen.
But I have no interest in talking about that film, I want to talk about the other Batman v Superman film.
What other Batman v Superman film I hear you ask, well…
First, a little back story I think.
Back in 2002 it has been said that a script for a Batman v Superman movie was written with every intent on it being filmed for a 2004 release. The script was simply called; Asylum.
Written by Andrew Kevin Walker who also wrote the screenplays for Seven, 8MM, Sleepy Hollow as well as others. He is well known for his dark scripts. With revisions and updates written by Akiva Goldsman known for Batman Forever, Batman & Robin, I Am Legend as well as other screenplays and scripts.
So where is this rumoured script then eh? Well its right here.
It is a rough script, but you can see the direction they intended to take these two characters. It was going to be a much darker tone then the previous Batman films and they even had director Wolfgang Petersen all set to direct the film too.
Christian Bale was rumoured to play Batman (as if that would ever happen) with Jude Law for Superman.
Wolfgang Petersen even gave an interview on his vision for the film too.
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 this planet protecting these petty humans.
Bruce gets married to a Elizabeth Miller, an intelligent and beautiful woman, Clark even ends up being Bruce’s best man. During the honeymoon, Elizabeth is killed by The Joker who has been brought back from the dead by Lex Luthor…with science!
It also transpires that some crazy terrorist Superman stopped an angry mob from killing a while back was in fact The Joker. So Bruce blames Clark for saving The Joker’s life which 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 realise the fighting is pointless and that they are being manipulated by Lex Luthor. Batman even comes very close to killing Superman via some kryptonite.
Batman eventually confronts The Joker and learns that his dead wife was really a creation of The Joker all along. The Joker even gave Elizabeth a ring which she in turn 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 form his near kryptonite 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 wanted to give it a read.
Why did this film never happen though?
Well there are plenty of rumours and speculation from script problems to director disagreements. However, the most common reason I have found simply boils down to money. Apparently, Warner Bros. (WB) thought they could make more money if they relased two separate films, one Batman film and one Superman film instead which were aslo being written around the same time.
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 they could make more money from the two separate films as well as all the merchandise they would bring over a single film with the two 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 Darren Aronofsky or a new Superman film from J.J. Abrams too.
The script for Asylum is rough and definitely needed some work, but there are also some really interesting ideas in there too.
But to think we almost got a Batman v Superman film in 2004…