Back around 2002, long before Zack Snyder’s involvement, there was a lot of talk about a “Batman vs. Superman” movie that was set to be directed by Wolfgang Petersen, produced through his studio-based Radiant Productions.
Reportedly early drafts of the screenplay, written by Andrew Kevin Walker, saw the two superheroes team up against evil forces. Petersen said at the time that he’d chosen the project because of the quality of Walker’s script, which he called “amazing.”
As for the heroes of the story, Peterson was quoted as saying, “They are the bright and dark side, which essentially is two sides of the same coin. That is the principle of the movie, which reflects what life is all about.”
“Superman stands for what is powerful, clear, bright, noble and just; Batman is dark, obsessive and vengeful,” Petersen said. “Because they are so different, they will inevitably end up clashing. It will be a battle of the titans.”
“Superman has an unwavering belief in what is right and wrong and it’s just not that simple anymore in today’s world, while Batman is on a path of self-destruction. He reacts to an act of incredible violence in a way that almost puts him over the edge.”
“It will show the duality between a brooding Batman and an innocent Superman.”
Targeted for a 2004 release, the film finally found its stars, with Colin Farrell cast in the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman, while Jude Law was set to play Clark Kent/Superman.
In a new in-depth interview with screenwriter, producer, and director Akiva Goldsman, he tells Collider.com that he stepped in to take over writing duties when Andrew Kevin Walker exited the project, and the project was in prep stage.
“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.”
“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).”
You can check out the complete interview with Akiva Goldsman at Collider.com.