When Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice arrived in cinemas back in 2016, it represented a landmark moment. Sure, both the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel had already appeared in films previously, but never before had DC’s two biggest icons – undeniably the two most famous and influential superheroes of all time – shared the big screen together.
Unsurprisingly, given the pair’s history of comic book team-ups, Warner Bros. had previously attempted to feature both Superman and Batman in the same live-action movie. Of these failed efforts, the most significant – which is to say, “bigger than a cameo” – was Superman vs. Batman, which was in development between 2001-2002.
Written by Se7en screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker (with rewrites by A Beautiful Mind scribe Akiva Goldsman) and with Troy’s Wolfgang Peterson set to direct, Superman vs. Batman is at once similar and wildly different to Batman v Superman.
Although the plots of both films call for a showdown between the two legends and count Lex Luthor among the main villains, that’s pretty much where the similarities end.
Here are 17 Ways Batman V Superman Was Almost Completely Different.
17 Alfred Is Batman’s JARVIS
When Tony Stark’s butler Edwin Jarvis was replaced with the JARVIS AI construct in 2008’s Iron Man, it represented a radical departure from the established comic book canon. But did you know Batman nearly beat Shellhead to the punch on the digitized manservant front?
That’s right: Bruce Wayne’s loyal butler Alfred Pennyworth was to be depicted as an AI program in Superman vs. Batman!
The rationale behind this change was fairly straightforward. Superman vs. Batman is set at least five years ahead of the present day, by which time Alfred – who was no spring chicken, remember – had passed away.
Perhaps realizing that he would struggle to function without his trusty aide and confidant, the Dark Knight therefore builds an Alfred app – which convincingly mimics the personality of its flesh-and-blood inspiration – to serve as the Bat Computer’s AI interface.
16 The Toyman Appears As A Minor Villain
Much like Batman v Superman featured multiple major antagonists, the script for Superman vs. Batman likewise gave our heroes plenty of villains to keep them occupied.
Alongside Lex Luthor and another major baddie (who we’ll get to later in this list), Superman's foe the Toyman briefly rears his nefarious head – as a pawn in the bigger scheme to destroy the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight.
This incarnation of the Toyman has seen better days compared to his comic book counterpart.
According to the script, this criminal genius inventor is wheelchair-bound and missing his left hand (sporting a metal claw in its place), the result of a lifetime spent as a supervillain.
Things don’t get any better for him either – Toyman is first tortured for information by Batman, before seemingly being killed by his master once he starts to spill the beans!
15 Batman Is Retired
We mentioned previously that the Superman vs. Batman script takes place at least five years in the future. The reason we know this – aside from how weathered the characters appear, emotionally and/or physically – is that Bruce Wayne is established as having retired from crimefighting half a decade earlier.
Bruce’s decision to hang up the cape and cowl is motivated by a desire to finally master his demons after he nearly succumbed to them following the murder of his partner, Robin. In the aftermath of this tragedy, the Dark Knight finds himself driven less by a desire for justice and more by a thirst for revenge.
Fearing that he would eventually cross the line that separates a vigilante from a murderer, he called it quits. Unfortunately for him, heartbreak hits close to home yet again, This pushes him to reclaim his Batman persona, and setting him on a collision course with Superman.
14 Commissioner Gordon has passed away
Something both Batman v Superman and Superman vs. Batman have in common is that both stories feature a dead Robin as a plot element. In the former, it’s implied this is Jason Todd, while in the later, it’s Dick Grayson who has bitten the bullet. However, Walker and Goldsman weren’t done bumping characters off. In their script, several other prominent Bat-family characters have since taken a long dirt nap, as well.
As if losing his partner in crime(fighting) and father figure wasn’t bad enough, poor Batman also has to contend with the death of Commissioner Gordon, too!
We’re never explicitly told what happened to Gordon – it’s left open as to whether the Dark Knight’s inside man succumbed to old age, or was gunned down by one of their many shared enemies. What is clear, though, is how sorely Bruce feels this loss, even in retirement.
13 Batman Gets Married
It’s not all death and despair in the Superman vs. Batman screenplay – the script has several lighter moments of humor and romance. Of these, without doubt the most significant is the wedding of Bruce Wayne to Elizabeth Miller - a new love interest created specifically for the film.
Of course, this is Batman we’re talking about, so it all goes to Hell in a handbasket pretty quickly. First, the groom becomes a widow during the honeymoon. Then it turns out that his bride’s apparent death was actually a hoax engineered to coax Batman out of retirement – not to mention mess with his head!
These scenes – which culminate in the Dark Knight very nearly broken, emotionally-speaking – are decidedly not light-hearted or romantic. But at least the wedding itself sure was lovely…
12 The Joker Is One Of The Main Villains
As you might expect, the Joker and Lex Luthor of the comics have almost as rich a shared history as that of their heroic counterparts. After all, as the saying goes, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”, so it makes sense that these two iconic bad guys have a lot to gain by teaming up together.
Unlike Batman v Superman – which only references the Clown Prince of Crime obliquely – Superman vs. Batman was set to pay direct homage to the Lex/Joker alliance.
Believed to be dead for years, the Joker returns as the apparent mastermind behind the “death” of Batman’s wife. There’s more to it than that, however, as Luthor later steps out of the shadows to reveal himself as the true architect behind the plan. It turns out the whole villainous undertaking was actually designed to target Superman, with the Dark Knight’s potential demise simply an added bonus.
11 Superman And Batman Both Follow the "Rule"
One of the most polarizing aspects of Batman v Superman (as well as its predecessor, Man of Steel) is that it depicts both the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight as being willing to kill their opponents. Not only has Superman already snapped General Zod’s neck in this continuity, but Batman goes on to fatally injure (either directly or indirectly) several of the goons who confront him.
This stands in stark contrast to the established characterization of both heroes in the comic books, where the pair are predominantly portrayed as refusing to execute their enemies under any circumstances.
In this regard, Superman vs. Batman hews much closer to comic book lore.
Indeed, the anti-killing policy of both Superman and Batman is a key thematic concern in the script, with the Dark Knight’s ultimate inability to murder the Joker validating Superman’s shaken faith in human nature.
10 Clark Kent And Lois Lane Are Separated
The relationship between Clark Kent and Lois Lane has never been stronger than in Batman v Superman – the happy couple have even moved in together and Clark's planning to propose. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case in Superman vs. Batman.
The script reveals that Clark and Lois and separated, and have filed for divorce.
Unable to cope with the compromises that inevitably arise from dating the Man of Steel, Lois decides to call it quits, leaving the Big Blue Boy Scout feeling…well, blue. It also pushes him into the arms of a previous flame (but we’ll get to that later).
Of course, had the film made it into theaters, this would have been a big deal – Superman has a broken marriage! – and frankly, it’s kinda hard to see Warner Bros. and DC not vetoing such a potentially scandalous narrative development ahead of time.
9 Luthor Controls Prison Guards Using His Fingernails
Whereas Batman v Superman shows Lex Luthor’s rise and fall from eccentric billionaire businessman to disgraced, shaven-headed convict, Superman vs. Batman showcases an incarcerated (and bald) Lex from the get-go. He doesn’t stay that way for long, though – although his means of escape proves more than a little far-fetched.
Just how outlandish are we talking, here? Well, it involves Lex using his super-long fingernails to stab into the necks of two of his prison guards, tapping into their brain-stems and effectively controlling them like puppets.
Even by the standards of comic book science, this is beyond ridiculous.
It’s also jarringly grisly, even for a film that – if the script is any indication – certainly wouldn’t have been lacking on the “brutal violence” front.
8 Batgirl Is A Supporting Character
Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that Barbara Gordon (not Batgirl) is a member of the Superman vs. Batman supporting cast – as Jim Gordon’s daughter has already retired from costumed superheroics.
That’s not to say Babs has thrown in the towel on crimefighting in general, though.
In a development that will feel more than a little familiar to fans of the Batman Beyond animated series, here, Barbara has succeeded her father as Gotham City’s Police Commissioner. Just how she managed to rise through the ranks so quickly only five years after joining the force isn’t addressed – and could arguably be seen as a plot hole. Nitpicking aside, Barbara stepping into her old man’s shoes is a nice touch, and works well within context of the story.
7 Martha Kent has passed away
In Batman v Superman, Clark Kent’s adopted mother Martha isn’t just alive and well – she even plays a critical role in the film’s finale (courtesy of the divisive “Save Martha!” scene). Sadly, the same can’t be said of her Superman vs. Batman counterpart, who – along with her husband, Jonathan – has been dead for at least a few years.
This doesn’t mean that both Martha and Jonathan don’t have a role to play in proceedings.
On the contrary – the presence of Superman’s earthly parents is keenly felt, with the Man of Steel reflecting on the lessons they taught him whilst visiting his childhood home. With our hero facing his lowest moment – unsure of both himself and the humans he is sworn to protect – these memories of his upbringing serve to bolster Superman’s resolve, even as they cause him to mourn the kindly farmers who raised him.
6 Batman Has A Jet Pack
In Batman v Superman, the Dark Knight has many wonderful toys – including several pretty nifty forms of transportation. Aside from zipping about with his handy grappling gun, Batman can burn rubber in the Batmobile or soar through the sky in the Batwing.
The one thing he doesn’t have is a jet pack – a deficiency not shared by his Superman vs. Batman incarnation.
In truth, the jet pack is not a piece of hardware that Batman avails himself of often in the movie. Instead, it only sees some action during his big slugfest with Superman during the third act, when the Dark Knight dons a powered suit of armor similar to the one seen in Batman V Superman.
Nevertheless, he does have a jet pack, and even in today’s cynical world, that has to count for something!
5 Superman’s Rocket Ship Is Powered By Kryptonite
Technology from Superman’s homeworld, Krypton, has a part to play in both Batman v Superman and Superman vs. Batman. Where the latter is concerned, the hardware involved is the rocket ship that brought the Man of Steel to Earth as a baby – which, it turns out, is powered by Kryptonite.
Honestly, this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Certainly, it flies in the face of what Kryptonite is and how it works, at least as presented in the comics. There, Kryptonite is debris from Krypton that became irradiated after the planet exploded.
Whilst this radiation has been shown as being capable of functioning as a power source, Kryptonite couldn’t have been used to power Superman’s rocket, as at the time it didn’t emit any energy. It was just… rocks (or whatever).
There’s a lot going for the Superman vs. Batman screenplay, but this element begs for a rewrite.
4 Luthor Wears His Battle Suit
In the source material that inspired both Batman v Superman and Superman vs. Batman, Lex Luthor has, on occasion, entered the fray clad in a suit of powered armor.
Although the Luthor of Batman v Superman preferred not to directly engage his adversaries, in Batman vs. Superman, the criminal genius was to take to the battlefield wearing an exoskeleton not dissimilar to his iconic battle suit.
Manufactured as part of Project Achilles – a US Government contingency plan devised incase Superman were ever to go rogue – this exoskeleton was built specifically to take down the Man of Steel. It actually comes pretty darn close to doing so. Superman and Batman are both almost outmatched by Luthor, just barely pulling off their victory.
3 Clark And Lana Rekindle Their Romance
Comic book fans – or those familiar with the Smallville TV series – will recognize Lana Lang as Clark Kent’s childhood sweetheart. According to both of these sources, Clark would later move past his infatuation with Lana, and (just like in Batman v Superman) shack up with Lois Lane.
As we already know, in Superman vs. Batman, things between Lois and Clark eventually turn pear-shaped.
This can mean only one thing: the Man of Steel is back on the market!
This fact is not lost on Lana, who doesn’t miss the chance to reignite the sparks between them when Superman returns to their home town to do a bit of soul-searching.
Disappointingly, despite a promising start, things between Clark and Lana don’t fare much better than his romance with Lois. In the end, it seems that the price of being Superman is a pretty crummy love life.
2 Lex Luthor's fate
Before the credits roll on Batman v Superman, Lex Luthor has been thrown into prison after being found guilty of untold death and destruction. But he gets off easy compared to his Superman vs. Batman counterpart, who ends the film missing - presumed dead!
During the climactic battle, Luthor and Batman both tumble over the edge of a towering monument, and find themselves hurtling towards the pavement. Only able to save one of them, Superman opts to rescue Batman (obviously), leaving Luthor to splatter on the sidewalk.
However, it’s not quite as simple as pronouncing Luthor dead at the scene.
The dastardly crook’s exoskeleton leaves a crater in the ground, then promptly explodes – and subsequent investigation yields no corpse. Although Luthor’s survival seems highly improbable, Superman remains convinced that he hasn’t seen the last of his greatest foe.
1 The Superman/Batman Fight Is A Lot More Personal
In Batman v Superman, the title characters barely know each other. In fact, their conflict largely revolves around this fact.
They're fueled by their mutual distrust and superficially different approaches to crimefighting.
The offshoot of this is that their titanic brawl isn’t an overly personal affair – it’s basically two guys who’ve met once before going toe-to-toe over a difference of opinion.
Not so in Superman vs. Batman, however. Here, Superman and Batman have not just been allies for years, they are quite clearly shown to be close friends. Clark Kent even serves as Best Man at Bruce Wayne’s wedding!
Because of this rich history – not to mention considerable amount of mutual respect and affection – when our heroes do come into conflict, it’s particularly ugly, especially as previously unspoken resentments start to be aired.
Know of any other ways Batman v Superman almost turned out very differently? Let us know in the comments!