While Batman v Superman made its way into cinemas – and internet folklore due to the improbable maternal connection between The Dark Knight and the Man of Steel – in 2016, a much earlier version was planned, one which would have made Avengers: Endgame seem like a snappy, light comic book movie by comparison.
“It was the darkest thing you’ve ever seen,” Batman and Robin writer Akiva Goldsman told Collider of the draft written in the early 2000s. It has since been revealed that Colin Farrell was earmarked as Batman and Jude Law set to play Superman, but it’s the plot beats that will live longer in the memory.
“It started with Alfred’s funeral,” Goldsman begins, “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].”
As per io9’s retrospective on the canned project, Superman would have gotten involved in an attempt to stop Batman killing Joker (who was resurrected by Lex Luthor as a tie-in to Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman) once and for all.
So, why wasn’t it made? Batman v Superman being so dark may have had something to do with it, as Goldman explained: “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.”
That’s a shame – and probably as close as we would’ve gotten to a live-action adaptation of The Killing Joke. Still, we’ll always have Martha.
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