Would you believe that one year before Alien Vs. Predator premiered on the big screen, these two iconic sci-fi horror monsters had their first meeting? What’s more, would you believe Batman was the catalyst?
It was the summer of 2003 at San Diego Comic-Con, and it wasn’t a film studio or TV network making all the noise, it was a fan film. Batman: Dead End is an eight-minute short film that came at a time when there simply weren’t Batman films in theaters. Batman & Robin hit theaters in 1997, while Batman Begins wouldn’t come along until 2005.
With that in mind, commercial director Sandy Collora decided to make his calling card, a short movie that would show studios he had what it took to helm feature films. The end result is the completely insane: Batman: Dead End, which somehow manages to pack four legendary figures into its short running time.
On its surface, Dead End is a dream come true for many fans. A series of Batman vs. Predator comics had been released in the ’90s, but those stories never made it to the big screen. Not only did Collora throw that into his script, but he also peppered in the Xenomorphs from Alien and the Joker–why not?
What’s most interesting about Dead End is what could have been. According to Collora in a documentary about the making of the film–which, for some reason, is 100 minutes long, compared to Dead End‘s 8-minute running time–Sylvester Stallone originally agreed to play Batman at one point, which led to mark Hamill signing on to play Joker. When Stallone dropped out, Hammill soon followed. There’s no real telling if this is true, but what a wild ride that would have been.
As far as a narrative structure goes, there’s not much to see in Dead End. Batman is chasing the Joker, and Joker–played by Growing Pains alum Andrew Koenig–rants about how he and Batman are the same person at their cores. Then everything goes to hell when Joker gets snatched, and it all turns into an intergalactic battle to the death. It’s here that the short embraces how silly and insane its concept is, for better or worse.
In reality, would Batman stand a chance in hand-to-hand combat with a Predator? Absolutely not, but there’s something thrilling about watching him try, even if it’s an unsanctioned fan film. And while the film may not have been the calling card Collara thought it would be, as he still has yet to be picked to direct a studio feature, it’s still worth watching.
Now, with The Predator barreling into theaters, the vicious alien killers are back. Sadly, Batman and the Xenomorphs won’t be there to greet him. After all, there’s that pesky problem of Batman being a Warner Bros. property, compared to Alien and Predator being part of the 20th Century Fox library–which will be joining the Disney family soon. Still, a new Predator film–and one that looks as vicious and gory as the new one does–is the exact kind of fuel the imaginations of the next generations of fan film creators need.
Until then, we have shorts like Batman: Dead End to show us what a fan can do if they’re willing to spend their time and money bringing their own visions to life, regardless of how ridiculous they are. Sit back and enjoy.
The Predator is in theaters on September 14.