The 2002 Batman/Superman movie wouldn't have been the worst thing ever

Last week, we showed you the full script of Batman/Superman: Asylum, Warner Bros.' 2002 attempt to bring both DC superheroes to the same movie screen. Because the script is 1) really long and 2) oft illegible, here's a reasonably quick summary of the movie's plot, its strengths, its plotholes, and its weirdness.

Here's the one thing you need to know about Asylum: It would not have been the worst DC movie ever. It's not exactly good, and it isn’t exactly meticulously plotted — did Batman really date a woman for years and not realize she was working for somebody? — and there’s a lot of screenwriting 101 clichés like the callback to going to get a drink at the end, but I don’t think it’s any worse than Man of Steel. If nothing else, it has a pretty cool and kind of reasonable reason for Batman and Superman to actually fight each other at the end, which is clearly the only reason it was getting made and the main reason people would have gone to see it.


The film begins with a Daily Planet co-worker calling Clark Kent a dickhead, because he asks Clark out for drinks but Clark declines so he can change into Superman and stop a terrorist in Metropolis. The terrorist has knocked over a monument but crashed his car in the getaway; Superman rights the monument, and saves the terrorist who’s about to be kicked to death by an unruly mob. The mob does not care for this, but Superman is a touch more concerned about taking lives than our current movie Superman, and he flies him away.

Of course, that’s when the terrorist shoots kryptonite dust from his watch into Supes’ face. Superman drops the terrorist into the river and falls himself; when he recovers, the only thing left is the terrorist’s mask, floating in the river.

Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne is getting married to a lady named Elizabeth; the fact that you’ve never heard of her should give you some indication of what roles she’ll play in the movie. Batman’s backstory: Someone killed Dick Grayson, and Batman started getting a bit too close to killing criminals, so he retired and now he’s content to marry some super-hot, far-too-perfect chick. Alfred died, apparently not horribly, Commissioner Gordon died, and now Barbara Gordon is running the GCPD, and most importantly the Joker died (actually, most importantly, Bruce’s Aunt Harriet from the ’66 Batman TV series attends the wedding). Oh, and Superman and Lois Lane are getting a divorce, because Lois Lane can’t handle Clark’s whole “constantly needing to go save the world” thing, which is the one thing Lois has always been cool with, but whatever.

Bruce and Elizabeth’s honeymoon has a small hitch when Elizabeth is stung by a toy bee literally minutes before she and Bruce consummate their marriage; the needle is tipped with Joker toxin, and she dies with a rictus grin on her face. Needless to say, Bruce doesn’t take this well. Superman tries to talk him out of revenge, and they have a spat in which Bruce tells Clark he’s an alien and can’t possibly know how a human feels. As Clark slinks off, Batman fires up the Bat-computer — which now has a holographic Alfred for a sentient A.I. — to do research.

Clark goes back to Smallville for a little introspection, and meets Lana Lang and reminisces. Meanwhile, Batman hits Gotham and starts beating the hell out of criminals trying to figure out who’s masquerading as the Joker. He eventually gets to Toyman, the presumed maker of the toy bee. Batman actually smashes Toyman’s hand in a vice until he reveals the news that the Joker is apparently back. Batman is skeptical until he meets the Joker and two massive goons at the batsignal. A high-speed chases ensures, but the Joker shoots the Batmobile with a bazooka. Weirdly, the Joker is about to kill Batman, but the Jeeveses stop him.

Meanwhile, Superman finally gets around to analyzing some of the Kryptonite dust (via his childhood spaceship), discovers it has the same “radiation signature” as a kryptonite bomb Lex Luthor recently detonated in orbit, and goes to visit him in jail. Lex reveals that he actually made the bomb for the Defense of Justice, in case Superman went rogue — and Lex just jumped the gun by blowing it up early. Lex says a lot of vague but ominous stuff.

After Batman steals some kryptonite out of a government facility somewhere, Clark and Bruce have one final talk, mainly about how Bruce is definitely going to kill Joker, and Clark is definitely going to try to stop him. They end at an impasse. Elsewhere, Lex talks with his lawyer and reveals he discovered who Batman was (by comparing Batman’s voice to America’s wealthiest men, because Batman is obviously well-funded), cloned the Joker, and this whole thing is a plan to get Batman to kill Superman (which is why the Jeeves stopped Joker from killing Batman earlier; h's supposed to kill Superman first). Lex also kills his lawyer and manages to put mind control chips on his guards when they bust in, and escapes.

The Joker sets a time and a place for a showdown between him and Batman, but of course it's Batman and Superman who arrive first. Batman has diluted the kryptonite into his armor, enough to weaken Superman but not kill him. The fight is pretty intense: Superman tries to burn the armor with his heat vision, but Batman fires missiles at Superman from the batplane; Batman gives Superman a couple of kidney punches and then rams him with the Batplane; away from the kryptonite armor Supemran uses his breath to blow Batman about a quarter of a mile; they have a whole fist-fight, then Superman tries to fly away to get his bearings but Batman uses his grapple-gun and is dragged along, climbs up to Supes and which causes them both to fall until Supes knocks him off; then Superman tries to save Batman from plummeting to Earth and dying, but Batman kicks him in the chest and uses his grapple-gun to swing to safety; they have another massive brawl and toss each other places, until Superman literally beats Batman with a parking sign, uses his freeze-breath to shatter the kryptonite armor, then heads into space to get a bit of sun/healing. And that's when Batman shoots him with a kryptonite arrow.

While Superman gets busy dying, Batman heads off to confront the Joker at the top of the monument Superman righted at the beginning. The Joker monologues for a bit, revealing that he “created” Elizabeth, made her Bruce Wayne’s perfect wife, all so he could kill her and drive Batman to this situation. Batman doesn’t believe him, but there’s a small montage of flashbacks of some of Elizabeth’s slightly mysterious behavior, and yeah, the Joker’s telling the truth. He slumps to the ground in defeat and the Joker is about to deliver the killing blow when the still poisoned and weakened Superman arrives and throws a hunk of concrete into the Joker’s gut. The Joker sends two new superpowered goons out, and Batman snaps out of it and fights back-to-back with Superman, like they never even fought.

During this fight, Batman says “shit.” It's weird.

Eventually Superman uses his heat vision to melt the metal floor underneath the goons and then his breath to freeze them in it, and Batman runs off to confront the Joker, take 2. Batman is still about to kill Joker when Superman tells him to go ahead. He goes on a big tirade about how he’s been wasting his time with humans, and that humans are murderers and eggs Batman on, and of course Batman stops.

This is when Lex Luthor arrives in a big suit of power armor, explaining that he figured Batman wouldn’t be able to kill the Joker or Superman, so he's decided to do the job himself. He handily kicks the the tired and weakened asses of Batman and Superman, trapping Batman under a girder one minute, getting ready to deliver a death blow to Superman the next, until Batman manages to grab him and toss them both over the balcony. Superman leaps off to save them, and now the sun’s out, returning some of his power. He grabs Batman a mere 10 yards off the ground, but Lex crashes, his suit explodes, and the body isn’t found.

Batman and Superman shake hands, “a friendship renewed” as the script calls it. Then Batman asks Superman if he wants to go get a beer and Superman asks if they can get a soda. ROLL CREDITS.