- This page is about the cancelled team-up film featuring Batman and Superman. For the 2016 follow-up to Man of Steel featuring Batman, see here.
|Batman vs. Superman (cancelled)|
Although it was widely reported that McG had become attached to Attanasio's script, in February 2002, J. J. Abrams was hired to write a new screenplay. It would ignore "The Death of Superman" storyline, and instead, it would reboot the film series with an origin story, going under the title of Superman: Flyby. The project had gone as far as being greenlit, but McG dropped out in favor of Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. The studio approached Wolfgang Petersen to direct Abrams' script; however, in August 2001, Andrew Kevin Walker pitched Warner Bros. an idea titled Batman vs. Superman, attaching Petersen as director. Abrams' script was put on hold, while Akiva Goldsman was hired to rewrite Walker's draft which was codenamed Asylum.
Goldsman's draft, dated June 21, 2002, introduced Bruce Wayne attempting to shake all of the demons in his life after his five year retirement of crimefighting. Dick Grayson, Alfred Pennyworth and Commissioner Gordon are all dead. Meanwhile, Clark Kent is down on his luck and in despair after his divorce from Lois Lane. Clark serves as Bruce's best man at his wedding to the beautiful and lovely Elizabeth Miller. After Elizabeth is killed by the Joker at the honeymoon, Bruce is forced to don the Batsuit once more, tangling a plot which involves Lex Luthor, while Clark begins a romance with Lana Lang in Smallville. Petersen had mentioned Matt Damon when stating what type of an actor he was looking for either of the two roles. Inspired by Tobey Maguire's performance in Spider-Man (2002), Petersen was searching for actors who "can really act and give complexity and emotions, but would have the fun of being a great superhero and maybe pump up a little bit." Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, James Franco, Jude Law and Paul Walker were reportedly considered for either of the two roles as Batman and Superman. Christian Bale, who would play the character in Batman Begins, was simultaneously approached to portray Batman for Darren Aronofsky's Batman: Year One, while Josh Hartnett was offered the role of Superman.
Filming was to start in early 2003, with plans for a five to six month shoot. The release date was set for the summer of 2004. However, Warner Bros. canceled development to focus on individual Superman and Batman projects after Abrams submitted another draft for Superman: Flyby. According to Petersen "[Warner Bros.' chief] Alan Horn was so torn, because it’s such a fascinating concept to do a Batman versus Superman film." Petersen still has expressed interest in directing Batman vs. Superman sometime in the future (with Bale as Batman), as has Bryan Singer. In the opening scene of I Am Legend, a large banner displays the Superman symbol within the Batman symbol in Times Square. It is meant as an in-joke by writer Akiva Goldsman, who wrote scripts for Batman vs. Superman and I Am Legend.