David S. Goyer, the co-screenwriter behind Man of Steel and the forthcoming sequel, apparently revealed the title to the sequel during a Comic Con panel over the weekend (via Comic Book.com) . “The next film we’re making, we’re already in pre-production, comes out in summer of 2015 and it’s — we’re actually not sure whether the title is Superman vs. Batman or Batman vs. Superman,” says screenwriter David S. Goyer.
When you put the “vs.” in there, you get that sense that it is not necessarily a movie in which the two superheroes team up to battle evil, but rather, a movie in which they fight each other. The “vs.” in a movie title has always had a negative connotation for me. When I think of “vs.” I think of bad sci-fi movies or straight-to-DVD mash-up flicks, like Cockneys vs. Zombies, Strippers vs. Werewolves, Jack and Jill vs. the World (a Freddie Prinze movie), Midgets vs. Mascots, Billy the Kid vs. Dracula, or any number of the Godzilla vs. movies (vs. Destroyah, vs. Space Godzilla, vs. King Ghidorah, vs. Biollante.
It’s just not an abbreviation that carries with it a lot of positive associations when it comes to movie titles. I’m not saying that Batman vs. Superman won’t be successful: Everyone is going to line up to see it, and whether it’s good or not, it may challenge The Avengers for highest-grossing superhero movie.
Still, vs? The checkered box-office history of feature film titles with “vs.” in their names does not exactly inspire confidence.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World — $31 million
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil — $223,000
Freddy vs. Jason — $82 million
Monsters vs. Aliens — $182 million
Alien vs. Predator — $80 million
Alien vs. Predator — Requiem — $40 million
Kramer vs. Kramer — $106 million
The People vs. Larry Flynt — $20 million
Eagle vs Shark — $221,000
Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever — $14 million
There are a few bombs among the titles, a few laughable movies that nevertheless succeeded because of guilty pleasure interest, and then of course, the two movies that revolves around a lawsuit, which is where the “vs.” title is most appropriate. It is not, however, so appropriate in a Christopher Nolan universe in which the superheros are grounded in reality. Batman vs. Superman may be a huge box-office hit, but it will always sound like a straight to DVD title.