There seems to be an endless supply of superhero shows on television these days. ABC, The CW, Fox, FX, AMC, and Netflix have at least one comic book-related show on the air right now. Some even have more than one, and the comic book push isn’t stopping anytime soon. There are more shows and more spinoffs on the way, with more networks joining the fray.
The thing is, this isn’t new. Hollywood has always tried to get superhero shows on the air. It’s just that many of them didn’t make it, and some ended up being lost and forgotten. So we’ve gone ahead and dug up several superhero shows that were conceived or in active development but never made it on the air, which is disappointing because many of them showed promise. In some cases, though, the ideas were repurposed for other superhero shows, and those turned out just fine.
Here are 15 Amazing Superhero TV Projects That Will Never See The Light Of Day.
In 2014, DC Entertainment and Academy Award-winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman announced plans to develop a Titans pilot for TNT, based on the iconic superhero team of the same name. At the time, however, it was assumed the pilot would follow the Teen Titans, a younger, precursor version of the Titans. It was later confirmed that the series would primarily follow Nightwing and also feature Starfire, Raven, Oracle, and Hawk & Dove, with the latter noticeably replacing Kid Flash and Aqualad.
No one was ever cast in the series, but The Vampire Diaries star Steven R. McQueen threw in his hat for Nightwing several times — mostly for the role on Arrow, but when Titans got announced, people assumed he would move over to that series. Despite TNT announcing the decision not to move forward with the project early in 2016, DC Comics CCO Geoff Johns says they still “have plans for Titans. It’s a huge piece of DC, and we have plans.”
14. Marvel’s Damage Control
Have you ever wondered who is responsible for cleaning up the mess and repairing all the damage after a major superhero-supervillain battle, like the Battle of New York or the Battle of Sokovia in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Well, the answer to that question is a construction company known as Damage Control, which was interestingly co-owned by Tony Stark and Wilson Fisk when it first debuted. The company was briefly mentioned at the end of the first Iron Man movie, so we know they exist in the MCU — which is why Marvel TV planned to produce a live-action comedy series based on the fictional company.
First announced in October 2015, Damage Control was to be written and executive produced by Ben Karlin and air alongside Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC. The network’s president, Paul Lee, indicated the series would premiere sometime in the 2016-2017 TV season, but so far, nothing has happened. If it doesn’t ever make it on the air, perhaps Drew Pearce will follow through on making a Damage Control movie.
There have been multiple, albeit appalling, attempts to bring Wonder Woman to television over the years, with the only successful one being the Lynda Carter-led series from the ’70s. But that might have all changed with The CW’s plan to develop a Wonder Woman origin series titled Amazon. First announced in 2012, the series was going to connect to Arrow, which was the network’s only DC Comics series at the time. But when they announced plans to develop a Flash TV series, Amazon got put on hold while The Flash got fast-tracked. Just a few months later, The CW ended up passing on Amazon altogether.
It’s entirely plausible that DC Entertainment put a damper on The CW’s plans to introduce Wonder Woman into their colloquially named Arrowverse due to the character appearing on the big screen for the first time in the DC Extended Universe. But that hasn’t stopped Flash from having his own TV series, as well as Superman from appearing on Supergirl, so what gives?
12. Booster Gold
In 2011, Syfy announced plans to develop a Booster Gold TV series, with Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg headlining as writers and executive producers. Unfortunately, the series didn’t pan out and the duo ended up creating the Arrowverse on The CW instead. With the possibility of Booster Gold eventually appearing on Legends of Tomorrow, got fans excited for the network to potentially spinoff the character in his own television series, but who knows if that will ever happen.
But just as with Wonder Woman and the Amazon series, it’s possible that DC Entertainment has put a Booster Gold series on hold (or worse, shuttered plans altogether) in order to prioritize making a Booster Gold movie. It makes sense, considering that the people behind the film are the ones who kick-started the Arrowverse to begin with. The only downside is that Booster Gold will be a standalone movie, not connected to either the Arrowverse or DC Extended Universe.
11. New Warriors
If the Damage Control comedy series doesn’t pan out for ABC Studios, there’s always the chance for the network to pick up Marvel TV’s New Warriors, which also happens to be a half-hour comedy series. Not to be confused with the Secret Warriors, the New Warriors are a team of young Avengers, similar to that of DC Comics’ Young Justice.
Announced in August 2016, New Warriors would primarily focus on Doreen Green, aka Squirrel Girl, a character who made headlines in 2016 when Anna Kendrick campaigned to play the character in the MCU. It was something that not only Edgar Wright agreed with, but what Anthony and Joe Russo thought would be “perfect casting.”
We don’t know if a movie star like Kendrick would consider taking up the role on television, but the series is an interesting pick for ABC. Although the series was only announced a few months ago, ABC and Marvel TV don’t have a solid track record of following through on their pilot commitments, so there’s no telling if New Warriors will ever see the light of day. We’re sceptical.
10. Blue Beetle
Shortly before making his live-action debut on Smallville, Blue Beetle was being considered to headline a TV series. DC’s Geoff Johns, who was then-recently appointed as Chief Creative Officer, was excited about the development, and he hoped to convince a network to produce a live-action series. If everything had gone according to plan, Johns would have debuted the series at San Diego Comic-Con later that summer. Unfortunately, nothing ever came of it, and Blue Beetle still eludes both the TV and film universes.
The thing is, DC Entertainment even went as far as to film test footage for the potential series, with stuntman Garrett Plotkin playing the eponymous hero. The footage was shown as part of a DC Nation short during the series premiere of Cartoon Network’s Green Lantern: The Animated Series in 2012. Perhaps if people were to watch the test footage and have it go viral (a la Deadpool) in order to let DC Entertainment know they want a Blue Beetle TV series, then we might just get one.
9. The Spectre
The Spectre is one of the oldest and most iconic comic book characters of all time, yet we still haven’t seen the character in live-action. The closest we got was in 2014, when Emmett Scanlan appeared as the Spectre’s alter-ego, Jim Corrigan, on NBC’s Constantine, with hints of Corrigan becoming the Spectre in the future. But the network canceled the series before Corrigan could die and subsequently transform into the hero.
The thing is, years before Corrigan debuted on Constantine, Fox looked into developing their own Spectre TV series. In 2011, the network hired Brandon Camp to write the script for the pilot, with Bill Gerber executive producing. There hasn’t been any further development in years, and despite having two successful DC Comics shows on the air, Fox hasn’t mentioned any plans to move forward with The Spectre — though they should. It would make for a great procedural, and we all know how much broadcast networks love their procedural dramas.
8. Hellfire Club
Fox’s X-Men universe just might be the longest-running shared cinematic universe in film history, having released its first movie 17 years ago. However, the one thing the shared universe is missing is a connected TV series. In 2015, Fox announced plans to remedy that by producing Hellfire, a TV series focusing on the Hellfire Club (first introduced in Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class) that would possibly connect to the X-Men movie universe.
Created by 24 and Star Trek alums Evan Katz, Manny Coto, Patrick McKay, and JD Payne, Hellfire was to be part of Fox’s joint venture with Marvel TV, which includes the upcoming series Legion. It was going to be set in the late ’60s and follow “a young Special Agent who learns that a power-hungry woman with extraordinary abilities is working with a clandestine society of millionaires — known as The Hellfire Club — to take over the world.”
It’s possible Fox is being cautious about diving into an X-Men series. Perhaps they are waiting to see how Legion does on their FX network before committing to Hellfire? If so, that would go against reports of Fox reportedly canceling plans to produce the series.
Shortly after Arrow began its second season on The CW, the network announced plans to develop an Hourman series following the Golden Age character of the same name, with Michael Caleo writing the script. Hourman would follow a “brilliant-yet-troubled pharmaceutical analyst who discovers that the visions that have plagued him since childhood are actually glimpses of tragic events occurring one hour in the future. Determined to win back his ex-wife and son, he heroically prevents these tragedies from unfolding, finding both purpose and redemption along the way.”
Now, over three years later, nothing has come of the network’s plans. And with the character having now appeared in the season one finale of Legends of Tomorrow, played by Patrick J. Adams, as part of the show’s Justice Society of America arc, fans hoped this would finally mean they would be getting that Hourman series promised years ago. Unfortunately, he was killed off early on in the show’s second season. But we’re dealing with time travel here (and a comic book show), so there’s always hope for him to return in the future.
6. Bruce Wayne
Years before Gotham premiered on Fox, screenwriter Tim McCanlies pitched an idea to DC Comics for a Batman prequel TV series that would follow a young, teenage Bruce Wayne in the years before he became Batman. Note, that the series would have aired years before Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins hit theaters, which is why McCanlies, at the time, believed the series would focus on the things never answered in any medium prior: why and how Bruce became Batman.
Unfortunately, despite initially moving forward with the series, the show was eventually shelved. And if it weren’t for DC Comics planning to develop a Batman: Year One movie instead of a Batman prequel series, we never would have gotten what is perhaps the best Superman story ever told: Smallville. The studio who McCanlies pitched his Batman idea to later retooled the concept for a Superman prequel. A year later, Warner Bros. approached Alfred Gough and Miles Millar to develop the pilot, which ended up becoming Smallville.
5. Marvel’s Most Wanted
After spending the first couple of seasons establishing Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., ABC announced plans to spinoff the series. Starring Adrianne Palicki and Nick Blood as former S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Bobbi Morse and Lance Hunter, Marvel’s Most Wanted would follow the duo after their abrupt departure from the flagship show, on the run from authorities to uncover a widespread conspiracy. Most Wanted was also meant to replace the planned Mockingbird series that ABC previously passed on.
Unfortunately, the network passed on the Most Wanted series, too. It’s unfortunate considering that the studio went as far as to film a backdoor pilot for the show, but with ABC passing on Most Wanted, the characters’ fates are left up in the air. And with them also canceling Agent Carter, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. remains the only ongoing Marvel series on ABC. Furthermore, there aren’t any current plans to connect the upcoming Inhumans TV series to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., either.
4. The Graysons
Not long after The WB merged with UPN to create The CW did the newly-formed network look to expand their DC Comics series to feature more than just the Man of Steel. So, The CW got their top executive producers from both Smallville and Supernatural, including Kelly Souders, Brian Peterson, Peter Johnson, and McG, to put together a pilot for a Batman prequel — of sorts. Instead of focusing on a young Bruce Wayne, this new series would follow Dick Grayson in the years before he became Robin.
The series, titled The Graysons, received a put pilot commitment from The CW, with Souders and Peterson acting as showrunners alongside fellow Smallville writers Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer. It was to be set in the present day and have Grayson “face challenges involving first loves, young rivals, and his family as he grows up.” Although it sounded like an interesting concept, Warner Bros. passed on the pilot because it didn’t fit in with their “current strategy for the Batman franchise.”
Just as with the Spectre, Starman is another age-old DC Comics character who has eluded the big and small screens for decades. In the early 2000s, Warner Bros. planned to develop a Starman TV series from the creators of Smallville and Birds of Prey. The series was going to follow the life of Jack Knight, the youngest son of the original Starman, Ted Knight, who debuted in the early ’90s wielding a cosmic staff as his superweapon.
The untitled Starman series would have featured both Jack and Ted Knight and be set in Opal City. Unlike Smallville, though, the series would be as comic accurate as possible. Starman co-creator Tony Harris read the script and was pleasantly surprised, saying the writers got the Knight family dynamic right. Things were looking up, then in 2003, The WB put the series on indefinite hold. It’s been well over a decade, and there still hasn’t been any progress on it.
2. Static Shock
In the early 2000s, The WB aired four seasons of the animated series Static Shock, which followed the DC Comics superhero Static, aka Virgil Hawkins. The animated series’ overwhelming popularity eventually led to the character joining the Teen Titans on the comic book side, in the DC Comics limited series 52.
Then, a decade after the Static Shock animated series concluded, Warner Bros. announced they would be developing a live-action Static Shock series as part of their then-newly formed Blue Ribbon Content studio, a digital content-focused subdivision of Warner Bros. TV.
Django Unchained producer Reginald Hudlin was going to spearhead the series, but now that over two years have passed, and we still haven’t heard anything about it, it seems unlikely that we’ll ever see a live-action Static series. The thing is, in 2015, rumors suggested that an adaptation of the series was moving forward and that the studio was eyeing Jaden Smith for the main role.
Though not necessarily a superhero, Scarlet is published by Icon Comics, an imprint of Marvel Comics. So we’ve gone ahead and included the TV series of the same name because it’s the perfect idea for a mature show that may not actually see the light of day. Created by legendary comic book writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Alex Maleev, Scarlet — which follows a young Scarlet Rue, who ignites a second American revolution against corruption — has been published irregularly over the last few years.
At the ATX Television Festival in 2016, Bendis announced that he, along with Marvel and HBO, were in the early stages of putting together a Scarlet-based TV series that would air on Cinemax. All he had to say on the matter was, “Scarlet is a list of things you can’t get made. Here’s a female lead who’s killing cops because her world is broken.” But, “when it was sold it was sold to people who were actively looking for that, so that put us in a good place. So stay tuned.” Although the series is in active development, who knows if it’ll ever air.
Dishonorable mention: Powerless
Everyone who loves superheroes loves superhero TV. There seems to be an endless stream of comic book shows on television these days — and that’s fine; fans want that. The more the merrier. But if there was ever a superhero show that shouldn’t have seen the light of day, it’s Powerless. NBC’s new sitcom, Powerless is set within the DC Universe and follows Vanessa Hudgens’ Emily Locke, who works as Director of Research & Development at Wayne Security.
“Full of confidence and big ideas, Emily quickly learns that her expectations far exceed those of her new boss (Alan Tudyk as Van Wayne, Bruce Wayne’s cousin) and officemates, so it will be up to her to lead the team toward their full potential and the realization that you don’t need superpowers to be a hero.” Sound a bit… strange? That’s because it is. We’re not sure if this is what people wanted when they said the DC Universe needs to be a little lighter in tone.
What other planned and canned superhero shows are you aware of? Let us know in the comments.
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