During an in-depth interview between Collider’s own Steve Weintraub and famed screenwriter, producer, and director Akiva Goldsman, where the discussion covered included everything from upcoming projects like Showtime’s Kavalier & Clay series to his work on Star Trek, one of the main topics delved into was Goldsman’s work on the ’90s Batman movies Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. While walking down memory land, Goldsman also recalled his work on the the scrapped Batman vs Superman movie, including the story he had worked up and his hopes for what it could have been.
In case you forgot about this prime piece of pre-DCEU movie history, there was a time in the early ’00s (long before Zack Snyder took a stab at the story) when Warner Bros. was working on a Batman vs. Superman movie. Details about the project have become more widely known in recent years, with Den of Geek revisiting the canceled project which was meant to be directed by Wolfgang Petersen and star Colin Farrell as Bruce Wayne and Jude Law as Superman (can you believe?!). While the movie never actually happened, it’s become a curious case study in what direction the DCEU could have gone in.
After screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker (Se7en) wrote the initial draft but ultimately exited the project, Goldsman stepped in to take over the writing duties. Amidst conversation with Collider wherein he was reminiscing about his time spent in the Batman universe, Goldsman had this to say about his contributions to the Batman vs. Superman project:
“I wrote on […] this version of Batman v Superman [around 2001or 2002]— when Colin Farrell was cast as Batman and Jude Law was cast as Superman and Wolfgang Petersen was directing —we were in prep and it was the darkest thing you’ve ever seen. It started with Alfred’s funeral and Bruce has fallen in love and renounced being Batman, the Joker kills his wife, and then you discover it was all a lie. Just that the love itself was constructed by the Joker to break [Bruce]. It was a time where you would be able to get these sort of stories together in script form but they couldn’t quite land in the world. Somehow, the expectations of the object — whether they be audience or corporate or directorial — it wasn’t landing quite in the way I think we imagined when we put them on the page.”
Later on in our chat with Goldsman, the multi-hyphenate creative remarks on the lost potential of his script. He ultimately likened his take on Batman vs. Superman to the The World’s Finest Golden Age comics run featuring Batman and Superman, concluding, “It was really The World’s Finest, in a kind of dark and interesting way. I think it could have been lovely. On the other hand, none of me is sad that Nic Cage’s Superman didn’t get made. So, I guess in that whole period of time, there were wins to be had and losses to be avoided (laughs).”