The 1991 miniseries Batman vs. Predator was the apotheosis of a great comic crossover, as it contained a prolonged sequence of Batman beating the Predator with a baseball bat. But what if this comic had been a mid-90s total bomb?
For those of you who have never read Batman vs. Predator, it's an easy plot to follow — the Predator comes to Gotham City, and he and Batman alternate whupping each other's asses. Oh, and Alfred plugs the Predator with a goddamn blunderbuss.
Now that you're well-versed in the comic's plot, I'm going to take off my io9 editor camisole for a moment and put on my Uatu the Watcher dirndl as we examine an alternate history from some poor blasted, accursed, hellhole, real Grade-A shitpot alternate Earth. The year is 1996, and Warner Brothers is looking to film a profitable sequel to Batman Forever, a film that sold tickets like gangbusters despite 75% of test audiences thinking it was a two-hour episode of American Gladiators. Seal has won enough Grammys to build a golem out of miniature phonograms, and Val Kilmer has eschewed wearing the tights to self-finance Willow 2: A Madder Martigan. A Batman sequel is inevitable, and Joel Schumacher is in the director's chair.
Meanwhile at 20th Century Fox, nobody's happy — they have two once-profitable franchises languishing in disuse. 1990's Predator 2 made the 14 people who saw it demand free popcorn vouchers from the concession stand ("If only we had kept the dance number!" laments an exec. "We could've had In Living Color in space!"). Similarly, 1992's Alien 3 made oodles of greenbacks, but the film lost the Saturn Award to its own Pepsi commercial. Producers are tearing their follicles out to make these franchises popular again, and by a stroke of luck, Dave Gibbons and Andy Kubert's marvelous 1991 miniseries Batman vs. Predator finds its way onto a producer's desk.
Some inter-studio wheeling-and-dealings go down, and Mortal Kombat golden boy Paul W.S. Anderson is tapped to co-direct the project with Schumacher. The Warners want to channel some of Anderson's 18-35 year-old demographic "FINISH HIM" cred, whereas Fox hopes the Yautja will ride the Bat-films' coattails to relevance. It's win-win, and once the news hits, the internet is a-buzzing. The 45 people in AOL's Movie chatroom are going absolutely bonkers! Typos are a-flying from sheer excitement and the fact that 33 of those 45 users have never seen a keyboard before. Some of those users migrate over to the Gardening chatroom, where a spambot and a cat walking on a keyboard are discussing aphid prevention. The fans are so excited they gesticulate wildly at their monitors, forgetting to type. Needless to say, the cat is psyched.
Hollywood is amped, too. "This movie is going to be like Who Framed Roger Rabbit....if Who Framed Roger Rabbit was a gangbang with ginsus!" ejaculates the aforementioned exec. Sadly, the production hits a snag on the first day, when Anderson fires would-be Bruce Wayne David Caruso for "not being wrestler or hulking enough." Anderson replaces him with 7' 6" New Jersey Nets center Shawn Bradley. Schumacher is aghast. The 5' 11" Caruso at least made Glenn Danzig's 5' 3" Predator mildly plausible, what with all the wide-angle shots. Shumacher retaliates by firing Danzig and replacing him with a trained bear in a dreadlock wig and a mesh shirt. Anderson acquiesces (much to Shumacher's chagrin), but this bear is fired when it mauls a make-up artist who attempts to give the new Predator ursine prosthetic nipples. Anderson replaces the bear with a Ford semi in a dreadlock wig and a mesh shirt.
Similarly, there are immediate conflicts over the film's soundtrack. Schumacher wants to recreate the smoothness of Batman Forever and brings in R&B superstars Jodeci to narrate the film ("kind of like a latter-day Greek choir"). Anderson would like score the film entirely with hard-hitting techno à la Mortal Kombat ("think of it as a modern-day Batusi, the Bat Trance.") They compromise — whenever Batman is onscreen R&B will play, the Predator gets hard-hitting Goa trance. The semi quits in disgust and is replaced with a landfill in a dreadlock wig and a mesh shirt.
The final straw breaks with regards to dialog. Schumacher would like the Predator to speak in puns pertaining to predation; Anderson does not want Batman to speak at all. The production collapses, and Fox re-releases the Alien 3 Pepsi commercial (with scenes from the Batman Diet Coke ad spliced in). The result is eventually inducted into the Criterion Collection.