The Batman/Superman live-action movie: Will it ever happen?
September 03, 2006
Warner Bros has given us this:

And now this:

But why, by all that's holy, can't they do this?

I would just love to see a live-action Batman/Superman Movie. Since I have been a fan of both these characters since I was very young, I know just the trailer alone would excite the fanboy in me enough to cause my popcorn and I to explode right there in the theatre. And the movie would be successful. Why? The answer is character. Batman was forged in darkness. Superman was forged in light. Batman is the peak of human potential. Superman is the highest reaches of our dreams. It would be just downright entertaining to watch them interact on the big screen. I must say, I am simultaneously surprised and not surprised there has not been a Batman/Superman live-action movie made before now. You see, Superman and Batman have been linked from the very beginning--or at least since Batman's beginning.

You see, the Batman, for all the glory and acclaim he's accumulated in his time, didn't start out the way Superman did. Superman was a brainchild, a lovingly nurtured notion that grew in the telling, tooled and re-tooled by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the two Cleveland teenagers who were his originators. Batman, however, was born in the shadow of Superman's success. Bob Kane (God, bless him) was tasked with coming up with "another Superman" to fill National Periodical Publication's coffers in a like manner - and perhaps also to lay further claim to their dominance of the new medium and its premiere genre, the Super-Character. Kane brewed up some ideas, shared them with writer Bill Finger - who made hugely important contributions (and amendments) - and soon, there was Detective Comics #27, with the soon-to-be immensely successful Bat-Man featured on the cover.

Soon it was clear that the Batman was a hit on par with the Man of Steel, and the two characters would go on (along with Wonder Woman, who joined them soon after) to become the central pillars of the DC Comics Empire. With two such powerful and compelling characters in their stable, it must have been as simple as adding peanut butter to chocolate, to bring them together, right? Well, no. It took some time.

Though the two characters would appear together on comic covers - first on World's Best Comics #1 (the title would be changed to the more genteel-sounding World's Finest with issue #2), it would be many years before the famous Superman-Batman team-up would first take place in the comics.

In fact, when Superman and Batman appeared together in a story for the first time, it wasn't on the comics' pages at all, but rather in an episode of the enormously popular radio show, The Adventures of Superman. Oddly enough, this pairing happened less because of popular demand to see these two characters together and more because the show's star, Bud Collyer, wanted a break.

Superman and Batman eventually began to appear together regularly in World's Finest and indeed the pairing would come to be known as "the World's Finest Team." In DC's halcyon days, when their flagship characters' personalities had had their early, rough-hewn edges smoothed away by shrewd editors (probably DC maestro Harry Donenfeld himself had a hand in it), anticipating a time when parents might be concerned about these strange magazines that seem to consume all their adolescents' waking hours, Superman and Batman, having basically the same demeanor, were the best of friends.

That would change.



In the late '60s, Batman began his long-delayed de-campification process, once again favoring that his name be preceded by an ominous and scary definite article. The Batman, bane of evildoers, stalked the night once again. Wacky Batman, chummiest of chaps, who battled goons on giant typewriters, rode rockets in space and traveled back in time to joust with dinosaurs, had gone the way of the dodo. All this presaged rocky times ahead for the World's Finest Team. The chiaroscuro contrast of the two characters, one a figure of bright primary colors, the other a living shadow skulking in darkness, became more obviously apparent.

Yet it wasn't until Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns that things really began to change for the Man of Steel and the Caped Crusader. Miller posited a government-controlled Superman and a rebellious, anti-authoritarian Batman, and the rest was history. John Byrne picked up Miller's beat in Superman: The Man of Steel #3, having the two heroes meet when Superman attempted to apprehend the 'outlaw' Batman (ironic, since the original Superman had been, for a time, Public Enemy #1 himself). After a rocky beginning, the pair forges an unsteady alliance, eventually coming to realize what fans have known for years - that the two characters work really well together.

Bruce Timm, Paul Dini and Alan Burnett, with the mighty TMS Animation Studio, went on to prove this fact when in 1998 they produced the Emmy award- winning Batman/Superman Movie where Batman (voiced by Kevin Conroy) and Superman (voiced by Tim Daily), from the famous Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series respectively, teamed up to battle Lex Luthor (voice by Clancy Brown) and The Joker (voiced by Mark Hamill). And lets not forget Harley Quinn (voiced by Arleen Sorkin) and Mercy Graves (voiced by Lisa Edelstien).

The Animated Movie was praised by critics and fans. Why? It has a great script. Rather than focusing on the superheroics, Paul Dini and Allan Burnett play off the character-driven moments in between the action. Pairing off the flamboyant Joker with the calculating Luthor, the perky Harley with the efficient Mercy, and most importantly the chilly Batman with the certain Superman, the script generates sparks merely from dialogue. Even better, the personality clash between our two heroes is taken into their personal lives in the form of a romantic competition for Lois Lane's attentions. And since they both quickly learn one another's secret identities, their competition takes on that much more depth. The result treats Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent as adults who fight crime as a job, rather than superheroes who pretend to be human on the side.

In the end, Bruce and Clark discover that they are more alike than either would comfortably admit: relentless, sometimes overconfident, and perhaps too used to being the center of attention. Clark bristles at Bruce's seedy reputation, in and out of costume. Bruce chafes at Clark's gung-ho bravado, and teases him for missing his chance at Lois. The script does not allow either man to dominate the story, but brings out the strengths of both characters as individuals. Ultimately, this makes their heroics all the more resonant in that we can identify with them, even when they are fighting killer robots or leaping through explosions.

Maybe Warner Bros was paying attention to the success of the animated movie, because four years later, in 2002, Batman vs. Superman was officially announced by Warner Bros. It turned out the studio had been developing this project for years. The film was developed as a platform to revive both Batman and Superman franchises. Directed by Wolfgang Petersen, the film was to begin filming in 2003 with a release in the summer of 2004. However, the project began to collapse when Petersen left the project to direct Troy in August 2002. The project was then left in limbo when Warner Bros. executive vice president (and project supporter) Lorenzo di Bonaventura resigned in September 2002 over his disagreements with WB president Alan Horn, who wanted to develop another Superman film. Ultimately, Batman vs. Superman was cancelled by Warner Bros. and the studio returned its focus to creating separate Batman and Superman films, which evolved into Christopher Nolan's highly successful Batman Begins, and Bryan Singer's Superman Returns. This cancellation left a big hole in Warner Bros. movie schedule at the time. So, on July 23, 2004, in the spot where Batman vs. Superman would have been, we ended up with Catwoman starring Halle Berry. Excuse me, I think I'm going to go cry now.

But wait, maybe it was for the best. Catwoman left much to be desired, yes. However, the existing script for Batman vs. Superman was potentially just as bad. The script was reasonably written by Andrew Kevin Walker, but then some madman from Warner Bros. let Akiva Goldsman revise it. For those of you who don't know Akiva, he wrote Batman and Robin and ruined the previous Bat-series of movies. He even admitted it in an interview. If you want to read the script, you can find it here: All the reviews of the script I checked were glad it never came to light. After reading it, I agree. Goldsman primarily rewrote the dialogue and added more corn than could possibly be found in all the fields in Kansas. Batman ends up sounding bad, Superman horrible.

Ironically, two days after Catwoman's release, The independant fan-film "World's Finest", directed, written and produced by Sandy Collora, was released on the internet. The film is in fact a trailer for a "World's Finest" movie; however, there is in fact no such movie intended or made. The film features DC Comics characters Batman and Superman, along with several other DC Universe characters, such as Lois Lane, Two-Face, and Lex Luthor. It is intended to demonstrate the possibility of such a movie in the future, and to pay homage to the iconic nature of the characters. This independant film showed while Warner Bros may have shelved the movie, the fans have not shelved their wish that Superman/Batman the live action movie would someday come to light. You can check it our here:

So, is the possibility of a Superman/Batman live-action movie dead? Well, no. Here's where we stand according to my source

In June 2005, Christian Bale & Batman Begins writer David Goyer said they were interested in doing the movie.

Brandon Routh said recently that he was not interested in the characters fighting. He would prefer a team-up (me too). Furthermore, Superman Returns director Bryan Singer expressed interest in doing the film.

Wolfgang Petersen (Poseidon, The Perfect Storm), who left to do Troy, said it was a possibility that he would return to do the film.

At the 2006 MTV Movie Awards, Superman Returns cast members Routh, Kate Bosworth and Kevin Spacey presented the Best Hero award to Bale for Batman Begins, leading to a little humorous banter between the two titular stars.

I've also heard/read rumors that two of the big stumbling blocks for the movie is how much screen-time the chief actors would get and how much money the movie would cost.

For the screen-time issue, I say this: There are no small parts, only small actors, now get your capes and boots on and start filming.

For the money issue, I say this: All the Batman/Superman fans will go. All the Superman fans who don't like Batman will go. All the Batman fans who don't like Superman will go. There is no doubt in my mind there will be a profit made on this film.

But the key will be story. I hope the people who eventually write the movie take a clue from

Allan Burnett and Bruce Timm:

Paul Dini:

Or maybe even Jeph Loeb (Batman: The Long Haloween, Batman/Superman, A Superman for all Seasons):

In fact, the smartest thing to do would be to lock all four of them in a room and don't let them out until they come up with as script.

As for actors, I hope the casts of Batman Begins and Superman Returns will fall into line. If not, perhaps Warner Bros. would consider suiting up Kevin Conroy and Tim Daly? Not a bad idea in my opinion.

The point is: I hope I see a Batman/Superman live-action movie in my lifetime. I have loved these heroes since the day I put on a cape and ran around my backyard. And if/when Hollywood decides to grant my wish, I hope the film doesn't suck.

Peace Out.

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