Before Justice League finally hit screens last month, and even before the DC movie universe as we knew it kicked off with Man of Steel, Gangster Squad’s Will Beall was working on a script for a movie that would’ve brought the League up against DC Comics’ Darkseid. Details of the script have leaked here and there over the years, but a new report has more wild reveals.
Beall had been working on a Justice League script for Warner Bros. since 2012. Its fate hinged upon the success of the then-upcoming Man of Steel, before eventually Beall’s script was officially dropped in early 2013. We knew a handful of details about the movie at the time—like the fact Darkseid would’ve been the main villain, and how it would’ve centered around Apokolips’ invasion of Earth—and at one point Ben Affleck was rumored to direct Beall’s script and potentially star in the movie too (Oh, such innocent times!).
Today The Wrap has a new report based on reading a full copy of Beall’s script, and it’s even more cosmically weird than we could’ve imagined. The movie would have seen Darkseid invade the Earth after Steppenwolf kidnaps Superman, and Darkseid’s henchman Desaad brainwashed the Man of Steel into fighting his fellow Justice League members—Batman and Wonder Woman (who would’ve had a romantic past together), Green Lantern John Stewart (who would’ve seen the rest of the Lantern Corps wiped out by Darkseid’s invasion forces), and new recruit The Flash. Aquaman would’ve been mentioned but not seen, and the Katar Hol incarnation of Hawkman would’ve cameoed in space-bound sequences with Green Lantern, hunting down some Kryptonite stolen by Desaad in the film.
Beall’s script allegedly went even more out there by the time Darkseid landed on Earth halfway through the film. After being freed from the brainwashing, Superman then would’ve been flung into one of Darkseid’s Boom Tubes and into a dystopian future where the villain had already wiped out most of Earth’s population. He would have seen Wonder Woman and Batman, alongside their child Clark Wayne, leading the resistance against Darkseid’s rule, and even members of the Suicide Squad and Lex Luthor working with them. Eventually, a dark Future Flash would be sent back in time during this sequence, alerting his past self and the rest of the League about Darkseid’s plans before dying.
Back in the present, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Flash would have acted on Future Flash’s warning to free Superman before he could get brainwashed, travelled to Apokolips, and beaten Darkseid with Superman’s help—and the arrival of the Amazons and the now-not-dead Green Lanterns—before he could amass his armies and invade Earth. Oh, and then the movie would’ve ended with Future Lex Luthor sending a message to his past self, who was running for the Presidency, revealing Superman’s alter-ego.
It’s... a lot. You can see why reports universally decried Beall’s script as “terrible” at the time of the movie’s scrapping. There’s just way too much going on. Trying to introduce all these characters in one go—the movie was meant to be released in 2015, so we would’ve only had Man of Steel as context for audiences leading into it—while also telling a story that spanned different worlds and different timelines.? Suffice to say, it would have been a maddening endeavor to create.
And yet, you kind of have to admire the grandiose, comic-book-y as hell scope Beall’s story would’ve had. You can certainly see how that story would be spread over several issues of a comic series, and see where some of Beall’s ideas eventually wormed their way into Batman v. Superman (at one point, according to The Wrap, Batman would’ve donned his heavy Dark Knight Returns style armor to fight the brainwashed Superman in Beall’s script) and eventually the Justice League movie we did get this year. But while Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon’s Justice League might ultimately be a disappointment for Warner Bros., if they had gone forward with Beall’s script they probably would’ve been in for an even bigger nightmare.