By far one of the darkest and most depressing entries of the DCEU, which doesn’t account for Joker, was 2016’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The film brought together Superman (Henry Cavil) and Batman (Ben Affleck) together on screen for the first time in cinema history. Directed by Zack Snyder, the film was exceptionally bleak, violent, and took itself so seriously it became laughable at times. But, believe it or not, that film could’ve been far more grim.
Writer/director/producer Akiva Goldsman opened up to Collider about a scrapped version of a Batman/Superman movie from the early 2000s that was being written by Andrew Kevin Walker (Se7en) before being handed off to Goldsman. It would’ve been directed by Wolfgang Petersen and star Colin Farrell as Batman and Jude Law as Superman. As Goldsman revealed, it wasn’t going to be a bright take on the World’s Finest.
“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.”
So for as dismal a film as Zack Snyder delivered in 2016, which failed to impress critics and send WB scrambling for the future cinematic universe to remain stable, just remember that it could’ve been far, far bleaker.