With more and more superheroes lining up to take a crack at the blockbuster box office, even characters and comic books that seemed like long shots on the big screen are being given a chance. Marvel and DC’s biggest heroes are being reinvented every year, but some of the most incredible, or riskiest ideas have already come and gone.
Here are Screen Rant’s 10 Superhero Movies That Almost Happened.
Batman: Year One
After the Batman movie series was killed in the late 1990s, the studio looked to director Darren Aronofsky for a reboot – who decided to team up with Frank Miller to adapt his comic “Batman Year One” onto film. The origin story would have thrown everything about Batman out the window, having Bruce Wayne live on the streets after his parents were killed, and learning martial arts from books, being mentored by an auto mechanic, not Alfred. The project was eventually seen as TOO different from the version fans knew, but Aronofsky’s leading man stuck around: Christian Bale was his top choice for Bruce Wayne, too.
The version of DC’s resident ring-slinger that fans got was less than a hit, but things could have been worse – or, maybe… better? Before Ryan Reynolds took up the ring as Green Lantern, the studio planned on casting Jack Black in the part, in a lighter story written by veteran comedy writer Robert Smigel. The movie would have followed the ring as it found the wrong person for the job, sending its hero into events well beyond his reach. Since the Green Lantern movie that was made was mostly criticized by following the superhero formula too closely, who knows? Maybe a comedy would have actually worked out better.
Before he was chosen to take on Marvel’s Ant-Man, director Peyton Reed was working to get a Fantastic Four movie into production at Fox. The film would have followed the comics almost perfectly, set in the 1960s, with the movie’s first poster recreating the very first issue’s cover in live-action. With the cast projected to include Charlize Theron as Sue Storm, Paul Walker as Johnny Storm, John C. Reilly as The Thing and Jude Law as Doctor Doom, Fantastic Four fans would have been in for a bankable adventure, if nothing else.
Justice League Mortal
No matter how satisfying DC’s Justice League may turn out, it’s hard to forget that if things had gone to plan, the super-team would have hit the screen almost a decade earlier. Justice League Mortal was intended to be a younger take on the heroes, starring actors like Armie Hammer, Jay Baruchel and Adam Brody, with director George Miller at the helm, and special effects from the minds behind The Lord of the Rings. A writer’s strike put the movie off track, despite the cast having already assembled to start production. Considering Miller’s next try for the studio turned into Mad Max: Fury Road, Mortal could have been something truly special.
When Warner Bros. was still thinking about a new Batman reboot in the early 2000s, they also got the wheels moving on a Batman Beyond project. Calling in the series creators to help write a script, the story was described as a dark, cyberpunk version of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, with a teenage hero taking up the role of Batman from Bruce Wayne decades in the future. The story is still a hit with fans in every form, so there’s no question Batman Beyond was a missed opportunity.
The most famous superhero movie never made, it’s hard to believe Tim Burton’s take on Superman didn’t make it to shooting, after he made Batman a big screen hit. But casting Nicolas Cage in the lead role, and with a script that saw Superman killed and resurrected, battling a Lex Luthor who had fused with Brainiac, the studio got cold feet. It was an outlandish idea, but even if the movie turned out to be a disaster, fans still wonder if the finished film would have been worth it in the end.
Marvel is finally getting around to making a movie about their Sorcerer Supreme, but the version they almost had seems like a dream come true. While “Sandman” creator Neil Gaiman had been brought in to consult on a Doctor Strange movie back in 2007, he mentioned it to director Guillermo Del Toro on the set of Hellboy 2. The two joined forces, with famous talents for fantasy worlds. But when Del Toro had to drop out to make The Hobbit (which he ended up dropping as well) Gaiman did too – leaving fans to wonder if the perfect creative team had just slipped by…
It was director Joss Whedon who kicked Marvel’s movie universe into high gear with The Avengers, bringing comedy and action on a colossal scale. But years before, he had tried to get a Wonder Woman movie off the ground at Warner Bros.. He couldn’t convince the studio that his vision of a kickass heroine would work, and eventually gave up. But The Avengers proves he might have had a point – especially since he included his top choice for the Amazonian princess, actress Cobie Smulders.
Marvel’s famous webslinger helped launch the age of superhero movies, but he could have gotten his big budget debut almost a decade earlier. Director James Cameron set his sights on a Spider-Man movie as early as 1992, looking to cast Peter Parker as a smartass quipster, who used the suit to turn the tables on his would-be bullies. Since the director of Avatar, Aliens, Terminator and True Lies doesn’t have a dud on his resume, fans can only dream how good the movie might have been if the studio had gotten on board.
Long before Warner Bros. worried about making Batman serious, or gritty, they were focused on just making him successful. That meant bringing in the writer of Superman: The Movie and several James Bond adventures to craft a story capturing both sides of the character. With David Bowie as the Joker, and Eddie Murphy or Michael J. Fox eyed for Robin, director Ivan Reitman – hot off Ghostbusters – already had his star in mind: Bill Murray. The studio eventually saw trouble in such a strange direction, and pulled the plug. Even now, it’s impossible to say if they made the right call.
Those are the superhero movies that came shockingly close to being made, for better or for worse. Which ones have we missed? Let us know the movies you wish had gotten a chance, or had never been made at all, and remember to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos like this one!