To the new generation, Marvel might seem like the big dog of the comic book movie genre, but those of us a little older will remember it was DC who ruled the scene until the mid-2000s. There were dozens of projects in line to be produced from this universe, but ultimately a lot of them were scrapped.
Now that the cinematic landscape is all things superhero, it’s interesting to go back and see the films from the DC Universe that might have been common knowledge. Some of these were good ideas that were unlucky not to be realized, while the others are those we’re very glad never got to the production stage.
10 Wanted To See: Justice League - Part Two
Look, we all disliked Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice just as much as the next guy, but what you should know is that there was a bigger picture involved. Snyder’s vision had Superman turn evil after Lois Lane’s death, and the sequel would’ve focused on Darkseid controlling this evil Superman.
That all sounds like an incredible premise, but DC panicked at Dawn of Justice’s bad reception and sacked Snyder during Justice League’s production, resulting in an uneven film that was half-serious and half-comedy. The payoff for Snyder’s version would most definitely have made Justice League – Part Two worth a watch. Looks like we’ll just have to imagine what that would’ve been like.
9 Glad We Won't: Batman Unchained
Batman & Robin made a mockery out of the Caped Crusader, and the silliness was meant to continue with Batman Unchained. Joel Schumacher was set to return as the director to ham up Batman with more Bat credit cards before Batman & Robin’s failure shelved all plans.
The plot would’ve seen Batman fight Scarecrow, prompting the superhero to see the Joker in hallucinations. While this doesn’t sound bad, you can bet all the focus on Batman’s rear and over-the-top Gothic antics would’ve made this more of a parody akin to the Scary Movie films. We still got the Scarecrow years later, and in a superb movie called Batman Begins. Let's just leave the "unchained" things to Django, shall we?
8 Wanted To See: Batman Beyond
Batman Beyond never gets its due credit for being a great successor to the mainline Batman series. The animated show has been forgotten due to the two decades since its release, but the story of Terry McGinnis is something we all need to know in a mainstream light.
While Batman Beyond was still running, there was talk of making this iteration the next one to be shown in film. But, like with Batman Unchained, the reputation of the Dark Knight was just too bad – critically and commercially – to make Batman Beyond a viable option for release. We hope there’s room for it in the DCEU because this is one story worth producing.
7 Glad We Won't: Superman VI
Superman and Superman II were the films that defined the superhero genre—there’s no question about it. However, Superman III and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace became so ridiculous that Superman started feeling like a parody of himself.
This was why we saw such a long gap between sequels until Superman Returns came by, and unfortunately, the series still wasn’t very engaging. Another sequel wouldn’t have had anywhere to go either, seeing as Clark Kent could never be with Lois, and the story about him having a child was pretty bad in any case. We’d have also seen Brandon Routh reprise the role; the guy just wasn’t captivating to hold our interest.
6 Wanted To See: Robin Spin-Off
Yes, Batman & Robin made the Boy Wonder out to be a joke, but that’s not to say he would’ve continued being that way in his own movie. With Robin being the center focus, we might have seen him grow into his own hero, and perhaps even turn into Nightwing.
There was a lot of potential with this character, especially because the actor was very good in his performance. All that was needed was getting the right director who would’ve carried Robin into heights that went with his characterization. A director like Christopher Nolan would be more than capable of making Robin a legit hero in his own right. It’s a shame the planned spin-off was canned.
5 Glad We Won't: Joker And Harley Quinn Film
More than anything else, the failure of the Harley Quinn and Joker dynamic in the DCEU is mainly the fault of the awful portrayal of the Joker. The guy came across as a glorified gangster wearing green hair for no reason and huffing around trying to seem crazy.
The relationship between him and Harley is an abusive one in the animated series, but here we saw the Joker be some kind of pathetic lover boy. Their solo film would’ve only further made them out to be some lame, crazy couple, and Harley’s characterization will be much better in the upcoming Birds of Prey, where she’s free of the Joker’s influence on the movie.
4 Wanted To See: Batman 3
Tim Burton’s version of the Batman series was great as long as it lasted, and Batman Returns presented us further insights into Bruce Wayne, as his love for Catwoman was an intriguing premise.
What Burton wanted to look further into was Catwoman’s potential, and a third Batman film from the director would’ve focused on the feline turning into a superhero. The chemistry between the stars made Batman Returns a success, so the idea was one that might have had substance. Although Batman Forever wasn’t as bad as people remember it to be, Batman 3 was a much better option to go with.
3 Glad We Won't: Green Lantern 2
When you’ve got the star of the movie himself making fun of his time as the superhero (full with Deadpool shooting Ryan Reynolds in his movie), then we can all agree a Green Lantern 2 would’ve been doubly awful than the first part.
There was a sequel hook in Green Lantern as well, with the turn of Sinestro into the villain in the works. Thankfully, better sense prevailed, and the sequel was canceled in light of the film underperforming at the box office. More so than commercial numbers, it’s the fact that almost literally no one liked the first film that the sequel never became a reality.
2 Wanted To See: Batman Vs. Superman
No, we’re not talking about Dawn of Justice—we mean the original Batman and Superman match-up. By the late 1990s, both superheroes ruled the roost in the genre, and Batman & Robin even had the Caped Crusader mention Superman being active, thereby placing the Man of Steel in the same universe.
The plot was interesting, too, with the film seeing Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne starting out as best friends until Lex Luthor killed Bruce’s wife and Bruce blamed Clark for her death. It might have been as campy as the earlier Batman and Superman films we’d seen, but not witnessing a team-up between these two tentpole superheroes in the 1990s seems like a missed opportunity.
1 Glad We Won't: Superman Lives
Yes, that’s actually Nic Cage as Superman and not a bad photoshop we found on the internet. Nic had a screen testing as the Man of Steel in a film that was set to be directed by Tim Burton. With a lot of big names butting heads over production, the idea was scrapped as Burton went to direct Sleepy Hollow and Nic went to star in seemingly thousands of films we’ve seen him in since.
While Nic isn’t a bad actor when he’s in good films, there’s just no way anyone can believe him playing Superman—he just doesn’t have the look for it. No matter what the story might have been, there was never going to be convincing anyone this was the same version as the one played by Christopher Reeve.