About a decade ago, long before Snyder’s Man of Steel kick started the DC Extended Universe (DC Films universe, whatever it’s called now), George Miller was set to direct Justice League: Mortal. At the time, it would’ve been the first live-action movie starring DC’s greatest heroes.
The only problem was, at the time, there already was a Batman on film. His name was Christian Bale and he was in Christopher Nolan’s interpretation of the character, with his middle chapter of his trilogy, The Dark Knight, set to come out.
It’s already well known that a combination of Christopher Nolan’s dissatisfaction with another interpretation of the character on film at the same time as his, combined with the writer’s strike during that period, caused the cancellation of the film. It was so close to production however, that the entire cast and crew were ready to begin rolling when they got the call that it was cancelled.
Matt Hatton, a concept artist and character designer, recently shared some work he did for the film, including bragging rights that he came up with the idea of a “black suit Superman” before Snyder.
His first post reads “So about a decade ago I worked on the George Miller version of Justice League. Here’s a black suited Supes way before the Snyderverse. He was floating above a funeral – in that one it was Bats not Suped who’d ‘died’ (but not really)!”
So about a decade ago I worked on the George Miller version of Justice League. Here’s a black suited Supes way before the Snyderverse. He was floating above a funeral – in that one it was Bats not Suped who’d ‘died’ (but not really)! #conceptart #justiceleague #justiceleaguemortal #superman #georgemiller #supermanblacksuit #matthatton
I remember at the time when this film was rumored to come out that it was going to open on a funeral, with the League members dressed in black versions of their traditional suits. And accordingly to Matt Hatton, it appears it was Batman who died in this universe, instead of Superman, but apparently it was a fake death. Here is some more concept art.
You sad, bro? Batman was the ‘mortal’ of Justice League: Mortal. Maybe a slightly controversial moral barometer for the team, but being human with no powers the best representative/voice of human reason to a group of Gods/immortals. #conceptart #storyboard #matthatton #justiceleague #justiceleaguemortal #georgemiller #batman
Although, we only get a close up of Batman’s cowl in these pictures, the visual of him looking at his own funeral from afar is really cool. It reminds me of when Batman attended Superman’s funeral and watched from afar in the Justice League animated show, as well as in The Death and Return of Superman story.
Some other things Hatton seemed to be ahead of his time with was dropping the red trunks from Superman’s costume. Something the comics hadn’t even done, but would later adopt in the New 52 and Zack Snyder would use in his interpretation, as well.
It’s also interesting to note that the “Mortal” in the film’s title was referring to Batman. In hindsight, it actually makes sense, but showing his fake funeral in the film and alluding that he was the connection to these gods and immortals to the humanity that they protect is very interesting.
Miller’s Justice League again – I did a Supes sans the red undies too as you see here which caused a bit of consternation! It does streamline him and make him look nice and tall. Also worked on Superman Returns and had some personal/subjective ideas about the balance of that costume too! 😄 #conceptart #matthatton #justiceleague #justiceleaguemortal #georgemiller #superman
The concept art of Superman’s costume above also reminds me a lot of the Superman costume seen in the Injustice video game by Netherrealm Studios. With the S shield and the cape connecting around the shoulders.
Another great visual that Hatton used in concept art was Superman in his black suit floating far above the cathedral where Batman’s funeral was taking place. Along with rain smashing against the Black S on his chest.
Some other great designs for Justice League: Mortal can be viewed at Matt Hatton’s official Instagram at @matthatt0n.
We’ve already seen the death of one of our heroes on film when Superman sacrificed himself to kill Doomsday in Batman v Superman, and we already saw his subsequent funeral, so I doubt we’ll be getting a heroes funeral again anytime soon. But the thought of an established DC Universe having heroes come together to mourn the loss of one of their own on film is intriguing. And as this concept art shows, can lead to really great visuals. Perhaps another filmmaker will revisit this idea.
However, as great as the concept art looks for this cancelled film, I believe in the long term it was for the best that it didn’t come to fruition. The fact that the script was rushed to be completed before the writer’s strike, along with Nolan threatening to walk away from his trilogy if it was made, I think it would’ve set DC Films back more than where it’s at now. At least Nolan was happy enough to finish his story with The Dark Knight Rises afterwards.
What do you think of this concept art? Would you have liked to see Justice League: Mortal come to life? Let us know!