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Both Batman and Superman are comic book characters who have been around since the late 1930’s. When you really think about it, it’s somewhat amazing that we’ve never seen the two of them on screen together. That problem has be fixed retroactively, as our favorite internet pastime, the mashup, has been used to show us something quite spectacular. Presented below, a Batman v. Superman team-up, as a 1940’s serial.
The guys over at New York Magazine’s Vulture have taken clips from the very first time Superman and Batman were ever seen as live actors on the screen, and combined them together to make their own Batman v. Superman trailer - circa 1949. That’s Kirk Alyn as Superman in 1948, and Lewis Wilson as Batman from 1943, together for the first time! As is the case with most of these mashup trailers, we never really see the two of them in the same shot, except at the end. Sadly, due to obvious technical limitations, it’s the weakest part of the piece.
Another one of other problems that fan made trailers tend to run into is variations in cinematography usually keeping everything from looking right. As it turns out, this is totally not a problem when everything is shot in black and white. The fact that both serials were filmed by Columbia Pictures probably helped as well, as the same equipment and possibly type of film stock, would have been used in both projects. All in all, they’ve actually done a fantastic job of finding the right combination of scenes to make Superman look like a monster and Batman look like the savior.
While Dawn of Justice is painting the picture of a misunderstood Superman, this trailer makes the guy look like an out of control beast. The highlight of this angle is the scene in which Supes appears to throw a car off of a cliff, while Lois Lane is inside. On the other side of the coin, Batman is completely out matched by the Man of Steel. The 1940’s Batman was severely limited in the gadget department and thus he has no batarangs or other devices which could appear to be used against Metropolis' champion. He really just has to stand there and look tough, and unfortunately for him - he doesn’t look that tough.
Considering both these serials were produced by the same company, it’s more than a little surprising that a team up never happened. Even in the 1940’s these were popular characters, popular enough to get their own serials in cinemas, and kids would have loved to have seen them together. It’s possible the legal issues over the rights to Superman between DC (then National) Comics and creators Siegel and Shuster, played a part in it, as they were already underway at the time.
Problems and limitations aside, this is a movie I’d watch. Superman at least appears to be somewhat like the character we all know and love, and in black and white the color saturation is about on par with Man of Steel's drab pallet anyway. Let's hope Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice doesn't spare the Crayolas, when it premieres on March 25, 2016.