It turns out we almost had an even darker version of Batman v Superman in the early 2000s. Even darker than what Zack Snyder delivered to us in 2016 with Dawn of Justice. This, according to screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, known for writing, amongst other things, 1997's Batman & Robin. The screenwriter penned a draft of the movie that would have seen Colin Farrell suit up as Batman, with Jude Law on board as Superman.
Details of this version have been creeping out slowly over the years, but the full scope of the project has never quite come into view. As Akiva Goldsman tells it in a new interview, Wolfgang Petersen (Das Boot, The Neverending Story) was on deck to direct this particular version of Batman v Superman around 2002. Goldsman came in to work on it after Andrew Kevin Walker (Se7en) wrote a draft. Here's what Goldsman had to say about it.
"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."
One common complaint among fans is that Zack Snyder's vision of the DC universe, which kicked off with Man of Steel, is far too dark. It seems this movie would have given the Snyderverse a run for its money. Warner Bros., following the release of Batman & Robin, spent several years trying to figure out what to do with the character. This is just one of many ideas that entered development only to be scrapped somewhere along the way.
The studio eventually settled on something dark and gritty in the form of Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins, which hit theaters in 2005 and featured Christian Bale as the iconic DC hero. The movie's success paved the way for 2008's The Dark Knight, which is still widely considered to be one of the greatest comic book movies ever made. It's hard to say what might have happened if Colin Farrell had his shot under the cape and cowl. Interestingly, Farrell has come full circle in some ways, as he's now set to play Penguin in Matt Reeves' The Batman, which is scheduled to arrive next year.
Ultimately, the version of Batman v Superman we got, which featured Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne and Henry Cavill as Superman, proved to be intensely divisive. It was largely panned by critics, but grossed $873 million at the global box office. It paved the way for Justice League, which was quite messy and underperformed commercially. Calls to release the "Snyder Cut" have been raging ever since. This news comes to us via Collider.