Even though Christian Bale had starred in Christopher Nolan‘s ‘Batman Begins’ in 2005, in 2007, Warner Brothers was desperately hoping to launch a shared cinematic universe based on DC Comics, so they announced ‘Justice League: Mortal’, to be directed by George Miller (‘Mad Max: Fury Road’). This film would take place in its own universe, separate from Nolan’s ‘Dark Knight’ films as well as 2006’s ‘Superman Returns’ which was a box office disappointment. That meant a new Batman and Superman would be needed. D.J. Cotrona was cast as Superman, while a then-unknown Armie Hammer was selected to play Batman.
The production was stalled by a writers strike in Hollywood, and even though the cast had been gathered and sets constructed in Australia, the entire film was eventually scrapped, in favor of a solo ‘Green Lantern’ movie, which was hoped to help establish a shared universe the way ‘Iron Man’ had for Marvel. (But that’s a whole other story.)
The process had gotten extremely far into development, so Hammer had already discussed how to depict Batman/Bruce Wayne in ‘Justice League: Mortal’.
Appearing on Maltin On Movies, he detailed how his Knight may have been even Darker than Bale’s.
“I wanted this Batman character to be so dark. I was like look, no one – and this was George’s idea as well, this was really in the script – but no one ever really shows how truly psychotic this man has to be. Like this is a guy who chooses to put on a costume, in all black, and sneak around at night and beat the s*** out of people.
“So in our story, the Batman was the true personification of this guy. Bruce Wayne was the mask that you never really see. I’m probably not supposed to be talking about this, but they took the job away so whatever! So even in times when he would be sitting around, like let’s say he had his batsuit off and all that, he would be sitting down with the thing, looking at the thing with the cowl on, because that’s where he felt the most comfortable in his own weird, twisted way. He was a neurotic, like borderline schizophrenic dude who didn’t trust a single person, including anyone in the Justice League, and had all the dirt on every single one of them, and was ready to take all of them down at the snap of a finger.”
The plot for ‘Justice League: Mortal’ is pretty readily available on the internet, but in essence, it would have borrowed heavily from then-current comics including ‘Infinite Crisis’ and it’s lead-in ‘Countdown to Infinite Crisis’, with Maxwell Lord acting as a villain, manipulating Superman into battling Wonder Woman, and the presence and threat of OMACs.
In addition to Hammer and Cotrona, the cast would have included Megan Gale as Wonder Woman, Jay Baruchel as Maxwell Lord, Adam Brody as The Flash/Barry Allen, Santiago Cabrera as Aquaman, Common as John Stewart/Green Lantern, Zoe Kazan as Iris Allen, Hugh Keays-Byrne as Martian Manhunter, Teresa Palmer (who had auditioned for Wonder Woman) as Talia al Ghul, and Anton Yelchin as The Flash/Wally West. As you can tell, the story would have also borrowed from ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’ and had Barry Allen dying and being replaced by Wally West. Reportedly, Jessica Biel was the top choice for Wonder Woman, but she turned the role down.
In addition to the writers strike, the massive success of ‘The Dark Knight’ in 2008 convinced WB to not try to present two separate Batmen to film-goers.
Do you think Hammer would have made a good Batman? Would you have been interested in seeing what he could do with the role?