In the early 2000s, Warner Bros. hired Akiva Goldsman worked to write a planned Batman v Superman film that would have been directed by Wolfgang Petersen - and, according to the writer, would have starred Colin Farrell as Batman and Jude Law as Superman.
Goldsman, who was a screenwriter on Batman Forever and Batman & Robin preceding the planned Batman v Superman film, revealed some new details of the film in a conversation with Collider, calling his script "the darkest thing you've ever seen."
“I wrote on […] this version of Batman v Superman [around 2001or 2002] - when Colin Farrell was cast as Batman and Jude Law was cast as Superman and Wolfgang Petersen was directing - we were in prep and it was the darkest thing you’ve ever seen," Goldsman explained. "It started with Alfred’s funeral and Bruce has fallen in love and renounced being Batman, the Joker kills his wife, and then you discover it was all a lie. Just that the love itself was constructed by the Joker to break [Bruce]. It was a time where you would be able to get these sort of stories together in script form but they couldn’t quite land in the world. Somehow, the expectations of the object - whether they be audience or corporate or directorial — it wasn’t landing quite in the way I think we imagined when we put them on the page.”
Despite this level of darkness, Goldsman likened his vision to the Golden Age era World's Finest tales of Batman and Superman as crimefighting friends.
“It was really the World’s Finest, in a kind of dark and interesting way," he stated. "I think it could have been lovely. On the other hand, none of me is sad that Nic Cage’s Superman didn’t get made. So, I guess in that whole period of time, there were wins to be had and losses to be avoided. [Laughs]”
Interestingly, Goldsman included a billboard for a fake Batman v Superman movie based on this planned concept in the film I Am Legend, which he produced. The billboard, seen above, does bear a resemblance to the eventual Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice logo.
Oddly enough, Colin Farrell has also been cast in October 1, 2021's The Batman - but as the villainous Penguin rather than the Caped Crusader, played by Robert Pattinson.
The version of Batman v Superman that eventually came to theaters in 2016 bears little to no resemblance to this version from many years prior - though the film has also been noted for its dark and violent tone.