In 2003, before Bryan Singer’s “Superman Returns” and Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins,” director Wolfgang Petersen was set to direct “Batman vs. Superman,” a big-budget outing that set two of DC Comics’ biggest superheroes against each other. Now for the first time, MTV News can reveal that one of those on the shortlist for Krypton’s favorite son was none other than Christian Bale.
In an exclusive interview, Petersen – director of such blockbuster fare as “Air Force One,” “Outbreak,” “The Perfect Storm” and “The Neverending Story” – told us that Bale was among the two actors he met with for the role of Superman, with Josh Harnett being the second candidate. And according to the helmer, the film nearly happened.
“It was pretty close,” said Petersen. “And then the studio got a single Superman script I think from J.J. Abrams at that time, and [Warner Bros. chief] Alan Horn was so torn – because it’s such a fascinating concept to do a Batman versus Superman film. And I still think it would be to do that. But the studio decided to try separate version of Superman and Batman, and then maybe think about down the road if you want to bring them together in one film.”
The Abrams project wound up being attached to director Brett Ratner, and the project moved far enough along to audition actors. Brendan Fraser told MTV News that he was among those who suited up in the iconic costume for a screen test. But like Petersen’s iteration, the Ratner/Abrams effort collapsed, and Warner Bros. joined with Bryan Singer for his Brandon Routh-led movie.
For Petersen, the loss of the Superman project was tempered by the studio giving him the green light on another film in development: his big-budget Greek mythology epic starring Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom.
“On the other hand they had ‘Troy,’" he explained. "And right away [the studio said] it’s not ['Batman vs. Superman'], but how about ‘Troy’? So it was not so terrible for me because I loved the ‘Troy’ project. (Ed. Note: If you haven’t seen the director’s cut of “Troy,” do yourself a favor and check it out.)
As for Batman, we all know what happened with Gotham's Caped Crusader. And for Petersen, there’s only good will towards Christopher Nolan. In fact, he’s as big a fan as anyone. “I loved ‘Dark Knight,’” he exclaimed. “I was completely sucked into it, blown away by it. I thought right away it deserved an Academy Award for Best Picture, and I was really disappointed that it didn’t get it. I thought Heath Ledger was just phenomenal. I am a big fan of that movie.”
Wolfgang Petersen’s next project will be the alien invasion flick “Uprising.” Stay tuned to MTV Movies Blog for more on that.
Would Bale have made a good Superman? Let us know what you think in the comment section or on Twitter!