It may be hard to believe, but it’s true. The Justice League has lost before – though not to the Injustice Gang or a legion of alien invaders. No, Earth’s other mightiest heroes failed due to a more intangible threat in the world of cinema: production delay, a.k.a. Hollywood’s kryptonite.
Before Zack Snyder helmed the mostly-successful Man of Steel, launching the DC Cinematic Universe – and even before John Favreau’s Iron Man introduced Marvel’s respectively domineering universe – Mad Max director George Miller had grand plans for Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and co. in a movie titled Justice League Mortal. The film was announced in 2007 and slated for a 2009 release date, with the cast and script both in place, but constant set-backs – including the 2007-2008 Writers Guild strike – doomed the project indefinitely.
We recently found out, though, that a documentary about Miller’s abandoned film is in the works, with Ryan Unicomb confirmed as the director, and Aaron Cater and Steven Caldwell behind production. The documentary will likely explore the reasons behind the project’s failure, considering just how many pieces of the puzzle were already in place, while teasing fans with glimpses of what could have been.
That said, fans won’t have to wait for the documentary’s premiere to get a look at a few of these teases. Thanks to the project’s official Twitter account, we have two pieces of concept art depicting Aquaman and Wonder Woman, respectively.
See for yourself below:
Although these were not the finalized designs – as there were apparently a “huge amount of concept drawings” for the team of heroes – the photos do hint at the possible tone and style of the defunct movie, while providing a stark contrast to Zack Snyder’s own character designs for Batman V Superman and the upcoming, still extant Justice League.
Compared to Jason Momoa’s dark, brooding Aquaman, with his rugged trident and warrior tattoos, Miller’s King of Atlantis is just that: a king – as well as a more traditional version of the character. Despite the “crustacean shell armor” that adorns his torso, his regality outweighs any sense of war-torn brutality; even his gold trident looks more like a scepter than weapon.
The difference between Snyder and Miller’s opposing designs for Wonder Woman is the same, pitting Amazonian warrior against Princess of Themyscira. The above concept art especially recalls the original Wonder Woman television series, with Lynda Carter dressed in her signature red boots, gold belt, and blue bottoms – patriotism not being entirely present in Gal Gadot’s armor-embellished costume.
Overall, though, the designs for Miller’s original Justice League flick reflect an appreciation for comic book tradition, as well as a more colorful and fantastical (read: less grounded or realistic) approach to the superheroes’ world – ironic, considering the title of the cancelled Mortal film. As more concept art is released, it will be interesting to see if this stylistic trend continues.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice will be in theaters on March 25th, 2016; Suicide Squad on August 5th, 2016; Wonder Woman – June 23rd, 2017; Justice League: Part One – November 17th, 2017; The Flash – March 23rd, 2018; Aquaman – July 27th, 2018; Shazam – April 5th, 2019; Justice League: Part Two – June 14th, 2019; Cyborg – April 3rd, 2020; Green Lantern – June 19th, 2020.