MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Kevin Smith wrote a decoy screenplay for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
There are two interesting competing forces when it comes to the creation of films. On side, spoiler culture is so prevalent that most movie trailers pretty much give away the entire plot, because, as director Robert Zemecking famously noted, "We know from studying the marketing of movies, people really want to know exactly everything that they are going to see before they go see the movie. It’s just one of those things." On the other, you have filmmakers, who want to keep the details of their projects a secret. The above Zemeckis quote continues to note, "To me, being a movie lover and film student and a film scholar and a director, I don’t."
So when you have fans who want to know everything about a film and a filmmaker who doesn't want to spoil the plot, you end up with a lot of subterfuge. Studios have been experts at subterfuge for decades (I did an interesting Movie Legend Revealed about how 20th Century Fox managed to market A Miracle on 34th Street without revealing it was a Christmas film!), but it has taken on a new life in recent years. Gone are the days of simply giving a movie a fake working title (like Return of the Jedi being called Blue Harvest) to throw people off the scent; we now have directors like Christopher Nolan who kept only a single physical copy of the script to his upcoming film Interstellar to prevent it from being leaked.
Recently, however, fans were abuzz at what was rumored to be a whole new level of subterfuge on behalf of Warner Bros. and its highly anticipated Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. As CBR's Comic Reel reported:
Rumors have circulated that "Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice" had its script leaked, which is where new rumors and details of characters in the film came from. However, a new report from MovieWeb contends that the script is a fake. Not only that, it was written by "Clerks" director Kevin Smith at the behest of Warner Bros., then leaked to throw press and fans off the scent of Zack Snyder's actual plans for the movie.
The fake script led to rumors that the DC Comics characters Amanda Waller, Mr. Zsasz, Morgan Edge and David Cain would appear in the film.
So it is true? Did Kevin Smith write this decoy script?
It doesn’t appear to be so.
Smith himself addressed the rumor on his website:
There’ve been a few movie websites reporting I might’ve been involved in a BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE misinformation campaign, at the behest of Warner Brothers, director Zack Snyder and producer Chuck Roven. The idea was that everything I’ve ever said about the forthcoming big screen team-up of the World’s Finest is a carefully constructed web of intrigue to throw movie sites off the real track.
Since last year at this time, I’ve been enjoying an unexpected period of prolificacy with screenplays. It all started with CLERKS III and was followed by me finishing nearly 5 scripts in a year, including the fall release TUSK. After TUSK, I penned ANTI-CLAUS (formerly COMES THE KRAMPUS) and a sitcom pilot that’s now seeing some action (both co-written with Professor Andy McElfresh from the EDUMACATION podcast). Then I wrote YOGA HOSERS and now I’m in the middle of MOOSE JAWS.
However, none of those has been a fake BATS v SUPES script. C’mon, kids… No major studio would let a guy like me near their franchises – even if it was for a dummy script meant solely to fool the news sites
Following Smith's denial, the actual writer of the script came forward to Charles Gerian at the website The Bible of Zack Snyder.
The writer, known just by his Twitter handle, SonOfArrogance, explained his reasons for creating the fake script:
I am a regular commentator on IGN and when the movie was announced there was this uproar of negativity. People were pissed about the casting, the director, the writer etc etc. And it was completely irrational. There was no sense to it. Just a bunch of people angry over what was ultimately nothing. There is no basis for anger in my opinion unless there is something tangible. Which there wasn’t just rumors. Coming from sites that couldn’t possibly know anything that early in the game. It was a sort of internet tribalism that intrigued me. So I decided to exploit that.
The Gerian article goes into further depth about how he wrote the script and how he leaked it. I suppose I can’t say with 100 percent certainty that SonOfArrogance is the writer of the leaked script, but everything certainly seems to check out (plus, even if he somehow isn’t telling the truth, I believe Smith did not write it, which is the main issue at hand), so I am willing to say the legend is ...
Thanks to Charles Gerian (and SonOfArrogance) and Kevin Smith for the information.
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Be sure to check out my Entertainment Urban Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the worlds of TV, Movies and Music!