So, let’s pretend that history was slightly different.
It’s 1990. The world has just experienced Batman as a big budget (and dark) movie masterpiece. Fans are rejoicing and dancing in the streets. We’ve not been this excited since …. well, I don’t know…. but its BIG!
The intelligent minds and businessmen at Warner Brothers green light a sequel. Duh. Who wouldn’t, right? So work begins immediately on the next chapter. They call it Batman Returns. (Not sure why this was the title since its not like he went anywhere. Maybe they could have called it Batman Strikes Back. Nah, what’s he striking back at? It’s not like he lost at the end of the first movie. Maybe, Batman Again! Yeah, we get Batman AGAIN! That’s kinda dumb. It’s the title that doesn’t so much refer to the movie itself but to the audience to tell us, “hey! Batman RETURNS!!! Go buy tickets!”) [back on topic] The movie starts production but there’s one tiny difference….
Batman saves Gotham again. Bruce Wayne finds a stray black cat and he thinks of Catwoman with one life left. We pan up to see the Bat Signal and Catwoman pop her head up. Then the clouds of the signal are broken by something zooming through them. We cut to the credits. After a couple minutes the credits are interrupted – fade in to Wayne Manner. The Batmobile blasts out of the Batcave. A blur of red and blue flies into the frame and block the Batmobile – which slams on the bat brakes! We cut back to the thing blocking Batman’s path – It’s SUPERMAN! Christopher Reeve’s Superman. His blue eyes look down at the Batmobile as the roof slides open to see Batman poking his head out. Wide shot of Superman and Batman. Superman speaks, “Batman – or should I say Bruce Wayne (x-ray vision folks) – I need your help in Metropolis. I’ve got a problem right up your alley. See, there’s this little problem with an old Kryptonian computer….” Cut back to the credits. Fade out.
The style is beyond its time. But don’t discard it. Let’s also move forward on the assumption Superman III never happened in 1983 (or the bad Superman IV: Quest for Peace in 1987). Because the original story plot for Superman III was meant to be a story about Brainiac but due to budget constraints and a studio that demanded Richard Pryor be in a Superman film, we got what we…got. Warner Bros. begins production on the next block buster super-hero movie for release in 1995. The title: WORLD’S FINEST: Superman & Batman. Today, you could have just stuck to World’s Finest, but in the 80/90s you had to put the characters in the title or no one would know it was a Superman and Batman movie.
1995. World’s Finest opens starring Christopher Reeve and Michael Keaton in a double bill, and the fans go crazy. The movie breaks records. It destroys the 1993 record for Jurassic Park. Revolutionary special effects from Industiral Light & Magic creates a marvoulous Brainaic. Batman works to hack into the system and manipulate the ex-Kyptonian computer program. And Superman flies in just at the right moment to fling Brainaic and his ship toward the Sun! It sets up for a new status quo for super-hero films. And the world rejoices!
Oh I wish that were the way things went. Fanboys have always dreamt of a Reeve/Keaton team-up. It would have been stunning….it would have been legendary!