Mister Cinecal

Mister Cinecal

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Superman-Batman Movie Delayed, Nerd Reacts

Cavill waits patiently for filming to start, hopes for agent to call with other work soon.

Yesterday Warner Bros. announced that they were pushing back production on the much ballyhooed “Superman-Batman” movie. Originally planned to come out in the summer of 2015, it’s now been delayed for almost another entire year, now slated to come out in May 2016. Speculation is rife as to the exact reason for the delay, some say it's because of rumours that Ben Affleck injured himself while skiing, others say it's because Warner Bros are too nervous to go up against Avengers 2, others still (me) say it's because Zack Snyder has started directing it now, but in slow motion.

Honestly though, it’s the second reason. The announcement of this movie last summer was so vague and it’s become abundantly clear ever since that the only planning Warner Bros had in place was the casting of Ben Affleck as Batman. While the Avengers sequel has plenty of audience goodwill leading in to it, the Superman-Batman movie is on much shakier ground, with the mixed reception both to Man of Steel and the casting of Affleck. Terrified of losing even more ground to Marvel in the lucrative superhero franchise arms race, they basically had no option but to admit defeat and go back to the drawing board. It continues a long tradition of the company failing to put out superhero fare, whether it’s the long and winding road to putting out a Green Lantern movie that nobody cared about in the end, or the project for Wonder Woman that started with Joss Whedon directing a movie and ended with a failed television pilot with a bad Halloween costume. On the Batman and Superman end, this isn’t even the first time Warner Bros has had difficulty putting out a movie that brings the World’s Finest together.
A costume designed by a billion-dollar company, not a cheap fetish website.

Warner Bros’ failure to get a Superman movie off the ground (somebody shoot me) in the 90’s are infamous on the Internet, from Kevin Smith's clashes with a producer who wanted Superman to fight a giant mechanical spider more than anything to the abandoned Superman movie directed by Tim Burton and starring Nicholas Cage, the fever dream that never was. On the Batman end, obviously Christopher Nolan was overwhelmingly successful in rebooting the franchise on the big screen after Batman and Robin sent it hurtling off a cliff made mostly of neon and ice puns, but there were 5 failed projects for Batman films between Batman and Robin and Batman Begins. One wonders how the studio ever thought they were going to be successful making a film with both of these characters if they couldn’t make one with just one or the other, but their determination has to be admired. Or patronisingly patted on the head. Perhaps they just planned to staple two separate scripts together.

Regardless, in 2001 a pitch was accepted for a “Batman Vs Superman” movie and Akiva Goldsman was hired to write the screenplay. If you don’t know Goldsman, he’s a screenwriter who has done a lot of work with Ron Howard, such as A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man and The Da Vinci Code. Another movie he wrote was…Batman and Robin, which makes him an odd choice to say the least. Was his the only phone number Warner Bros had on file? Veteran director Wolfgang Petersen was hired to direct. Actually Petersen was first approached to direct a film called Superman: Flyby, written by J.J. Abrams, but then that project was bypassed when Batman vs Superman went into development…don’t worry if you’re confused, the production history of these films are almost as convoluted as DC comics themselves…

Goldsman’s script for Batman vs Superman has been available on the Internet for some time, so it will be interesting to see if any aspects of it end up recycled by VD Zack Snyder. In the film, Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne have been friends for a long time; both knowing each other's secrets and Clark being best man at his friend’s wedding to a new character called Elizabeth Miller (possibly a shout out Frank Miller, though unfortunately it’s difficult to imagine anything raving loon Frank would find more insulting than being compared to a woman). However, on the honeymoon Elizabeth is murdered by the Joker, sending Batman into a downward spiral that leads to him contemplating murder and getting into a 10-page long fight scene with Superman. The two eventually team up to take out the Joker and Lex Luthor.
Joker in this movie would have been resurrected with "a little grave digging, some DNA extraction and a billion dollars", the second biggest waste of money mentioned in this article.

Superman spends much of the movie moping over a divorce with Lois Lane and after telling Batman he can’t kill all the way through the movie, in the end he says he’s cool with Batman doing in the Joker because it’s “his right as a human being”. Batman doesn’t do it though and the two laugh and talk about sharing a beer (??) The script is said not to be that great but in its defence the fact that neither of its main characters end up murdering anyone means that they’re more in character than they have been in the last few movies that have succeeded in being released.

Interestingly Christian Bale was the name most strongly linked to the Batman role even before Nolan became involved, while Josh Hartnett was the choice to play Superman, in one of many failed attempts to turn Hartnett into a big star. Petersen abandoned the project to direct Troy instead and the studio decided to keep the characters separate for the time being. Now they’re back at it again, but honestly, with this track record, by no means is this Superman movie or Superman/Batman movie or Justice League movie or whatever the fudge a sure thing. At least that’s what I tell myself while struggling to sleep at night, rocking back and forth and clutching my copy of All-Star Superman tightly. Generally you can depend on the incompetence of Warner Bros, but only time will tell and now we have more time than previously thought.

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