Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is just around the corner, and most devotees have probably hedged their superhero bets already. Starting from Man of Steel’s DC ground zero, the film will bring a fresh if older Batman (Ben Affleck) to do battle with a relatively green (Kryptonite pun sort of intended) Superman (Henry Cavill). Even though the universe these two comic book titans battle in exists in a totally separate realm from Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, the two DC universes do share a darker aesthetic.
Both Zack Snyder and Nolan eschewed the campier tones of previous outings like Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin (1997) or Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie (1978). Apparently, the grimmer atmosphere wasn’t the only thing Snyder and Nolan’s films could have shared, though.
IGN revealed Snyder was interested in casting Christian Bale in Batman V Superman, but not as the Caped Crusader. Obviously, Bale’s Batman was retired after the end of Nolan’s trilogy, and the universes exist separately from one another, so Bale’s couldn’t have signed on to play the crime fighter in Batman V Superman. Snyder still says he would have been loved to have Bale in the film anyway:
"I just wanted to hire Christian to play another part to make that obvious. Christian could play, like, Alfred with age makeup. No! Of course not. But you know what I mean. Even people at the studio would say, ‘Who are you getting from the other movies?’ And I was like, ‘Hey, come on guys, let’s all understand, it’s a different world.'"
Although many fans of the Dark Knight Trilogy would have loved to see Batman fight the Man of Steel in Nolan’s grittier world, Snyder feels it probably couldn’t have worked. The relative realism of the Dark Knight series would have also made the eventual convergence of the Justice League more challenging as well. Snyder discusses Warner Bros/DC’s need to reboot:
"In the Batman universe that Chris Nolan created, Superman would have a hard time existing. That’s why we did a reboot on the universe, so we could allow these characters to exist together. We needed to do that to have Batman exist in this world."
Although Bale didn’t wind up with a role in the Batman V Superman, his presence would have been a fun meta-nod between Warner Bros.’ distinct but equally interesting DC film universes – much like Deadpool’s reference to a Patrick Stewart- or James McAvoy-led X-Men. It would have been a neat wink to have Bale play a minor villain or a Superman booster railing against Batman. There’s still plenty of Justice League left, however, so it’s entirely possible Snyder or DC could work Bale into a small role yet.
In the long run, though, it’s probably best to avoid all references to alternate Batman universes. Bale’s presence could have been an unnecessary distraction from the real meat of the film, the colossal superhero beef that divides the world and then brings it back together. What role, if any, would you give Christian Bale in BVS?
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice opens on March 25th, 2016, followed by Suicide Squad on August 5th, 2016; Wonder Woman on June 23rd, 2017; Justice League Part One on November 17th, 2017; The Flash on March 16th, 2018; Aquaman on July 27th, 2018; Shazam on April 5th, 2019; Justice League Part Two on June 14th, 2019; Cyborg on April 3rd, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps. on June 19th, 2020.