Daring to be vastly different in terms of tone and of scope than the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the DC Extended Universe looked to kickstart their entire shared universe with Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice, as opposed to Marvel’s formula of introducing all of these characters firsts and then do a big team-up movie. The result was a very busy, very ambitious, and ultimately very divisive movie. The darker and grittier take on the entire DC Universe was not a welcomed one. Introducing a lot of characters and concepts upfront that the mass audience didn’t work nearly as well.
DC’s parent company, Warner Bros. deemed the film and Justice League flops and growing criticisms of the movies had become too much for the studio to bare. They canceled a lot of executive producer Zack Snyder’s plans, leaving whatever was going to happen in the DCEU by the wayside in favor of whatever individual creators want to do with the characters. That’s just the recent turn of events.
DC movies have been being canceled or shelved and put on the back burner for years now. The fourth Superman and Batman films flopped and it took years to get those franchises back off the ground. For many, the Man Of Steel still hasn’t actually soared again. Slowly but surely, fans are learning there’s more to DC than just Supes and Bats. The best-kept secret here is that if DC could get their act together, they’d have a dearth of movies for years and years to come just like their competition. Here are 11 Cancelled DC Movies That We Wish Got Made (And 9 That Still Could Be).
20 Canceled: Batman: Year One
At this point in Batman’s eighty-year history, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t know what happened to Bruce Wayne’s parents in Crime Alley. What some people might not know is the story of Batman’s first year as the Caped Crusader, Frank Miller’s epic Year One storyline.
That was all going to change in the early 2000s when Miller wrote a screenplay for Darren Aronofsky to direct. But their clashing over ideas and Warner Bros. desire to take the project in another direction (which ultimately became Batman Begins), led to the end of this film’s production.
19 Still Could Be Made: Batman Beyond
How many more ways can you tell the Batman story? That’s the beauty of Batman, it can be told a multitude of ways. Batman Beyond brought Batman decades into the future where an aging Bruce Wayne trains a young Terry McGinnis to be the new Batman. For fans for the TV series and movie, Return Of The Joker, this is THEIR Batman.
These fans still might get their wish one day. The thought of a Batman Beyond movie is bandied about every few years or so. Recently, Entertainment Weekly made a mock cover for April Fool’s with Michael Keaton returning as old Bruce Wayne. Hopefully, someone at Warner Bros. saw it and is ready to make this a reality.
18 Canceled: Superman Lives
Before the DCEU as we know it today became much maligned, the mere thought of Nicolas Cage as Superman was a headscratcher. But with the combined efforts of writer Kevin Smith and director Tim Burton at the helm, Superman Lives was intended to reboot the series while adapting “The Demise Of Superman” storyline for the big screen.
Alas, this film was doomed from the start. Details of the making of (and eventual end of) the project can be seen in the documentary, The [Demise] Of Superman Lives – What Happened? All producer Jon Peters seemingly wanted was for Superman to fight a giant spider in act three…just let that ruminate for a moment. The movie that Peter’s beloved arachnid finally appeared in? Wild, Wild West.
17 Still Could Be Made: Plastic Man
In 1995, the Wachowskis had written a script for DC’s Plastic Man. Nearly 13 years later, rumors were still swirling that the siblings and Keanu Reeves were collaborating to bring the story of Patrick “Eel” O’Brian, former crook turned to hero, to the big screen.
As of this writing, it has since been announced that unknown Amanda Idoko is trying to tackle the stretchy superhero. There is no telling if she has access to, or even wants to borrow elements of the Wachowski’s script. But depending on what happens during the development, shooting, and release of the movie; if it’s successful, Warner would certainly be open to dusting off the nearly 25-year-old script.
16 Canceled: Justice League: Mortal
George Miller is one of the most versatile writers and directors in all of Hollywood. The same guy that wrote and directed the Mad Max series also did the same thing for the Happy Feet and Babe series of films. Around the era of The Dark Knight trilogy, Miller was looking to bring the Justice League to the big screen.
The writer’s strike and budgetary concerns led Warner to back out of the project, but it would have had the look and feel of Mad Max Fury Road. That movie was nominated for an Academy Award, so who knows where the DCEU would be right now if we lived in a world where we got see George Miller’s JLA.
15 Still Could Be Made: The Batman
Affleck might be out, but his version of Batman was still much better than anyone expected or hoped for. His version of a slightly older Batman was praised and reports that he would be writing, directing, and starring in his own solo Bat-flick was met with fervent anticipation.
Affleck backed out of his Bat-commitments but the story of a Batman battling Deathstroke The Terminator is still alive and well in the form of director Matt Reeves’ Batman, currently aimed for a June 25, 2021 release. Whether the popular villain continues to be a part of it or not, remains to be seen.
14 Canceled: Batman 3
After Batman Returns, Tim Burton was gearing up for a third movie, tentatively titled, Batman Continues. Scripted by Lee Batchler, Burton had sought after Robin Williams, this time to play The Riddler. Billy Dee Williams’ Harvey Dent was slated to become Two-Face, and Brad Douriff had been tapped to play the Scarecrow.
However, Warner Bros. was more interested in how and who to market their Batman movies to then how to make them. Wanting to make more family-friendly fare (re: TOYS), they asked Tim Burton to take on a producer role in favor of Joel Schumacher and kinder, gentler, Batman.
13 Canceled: Superman: Flyby
J.J. Abrams has been the go-to guy for anything science fiction or fantasy related for nearly twenty years now. The mastermind behind shows like Fringe and Lost, as well as rebooting both Star Wars and Star Trek franchises nearly rebooted the Blue Blur himself with Superman: Flyby.
Abrams’ Superman story was wildly different than the universally accepted origin story. Couple that with the fact the familiar elements that were there had to be explained (ie – Clark’s glasses are lead-lined to help control his supersight) angered fans in a way that had this have gotten made, Zack Snyder might not be responsible for the worst Superman film.
12 Canceled: Green Arrow: Escape From Super Max
The opening few episodes of season seven of Arrow featured Ollie in jail. His friends and family are trying to get him out and clear his name. Meanwhile, he faces all kinds of enemies on the inside and outside. He has to work to save his hyde in prison while trying to keep his family safe from threats outside of it.
If that sounds like a cool idea for a movie, that’s because at one point it was. David S. Goyer has planned to bring the Emerald Archer to the big screen with a similar storyline. Chances are that even if we get a Green Lantern Movie, it won’t be Supermax.
11 Cancelled: Tim Burton’s Catwoman
One of the casualties of not having Tim Burton direct Batman Continues is that Burton’s proposed Catwoman flick was done for as well. According to Film Review magazine, the script was by Daniel Waters (Batman Returns) and had a unique premise.
After getting her clock cleaned in Batman Returns, Selina had amnesia and heads to Oasisburg (a resort area akin to Las Vegas). The city is run by superheroes, and the movie was going to poke fun a lot of male hero tropes. Since none of them would have been very good, Selina would have found her way back into her slinky leather catsuit.
10 Still Could Be Made: Batman Vs. Superman
No, not the 853-hour long director’s cut of Zack Snyder’s Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice. That director’s cut, by the way, makes a lot more sense than the theatrical version. Years before this movie, was another proposed Batman / Superman movie, this one directed by Wolfgang Petersen.
Andrew Kevin Walker (Se7en) had written the original script, which had taken place in an early-post 9/11 world. Superman had helped to stop a criminal act that would have been revealed to be committed by the Joker, bringing Supes to Gotham and meeting Batman for the first time.
9 Still Could Be Made: Green Lantern Corps
Many including Ryan Reynolds himself are not fans of 2011’s Green Lantern. While not a great film per se, it was far better than a lot of other comic book dreck out there. Any and all Green Lanterns are generally regarded as some of DC’s most beloved characters. The past few years have introduced more color rings and other Lantern Corps.
The entire series is rife for years and years of space opera action epics. The characters deserve far better than they got. If done right, there could be Green Lantern movies and an entire shared universe of its own for years.
8 Canceled: Justice League 2
While it was received better than the first two Snyder Superman flicks, Justice League still didn’t hit the expected marks that Warner Bros. had assumed it would. Very much like the rest of Snyder’s planned DCEU adventures, Justice League 2 has been shelved. By all accounts, completely abandoned.
The film would have in theory not only introduced Darkseid (DC’s version of Thanos), but also start bringing Batman’s nightmare from BVS to the forefront, and eventually the DC Injustice video game storyline.
7 Still Could Be Made: Lobo
Born on the Utopian planet of Czarnia, Lobo eliminated everyone else on his planet. His name roughly translates to "he who devours your entrails and thoroughly enjoys it.” Lobo is DC’s wildest superhero. At one point, their most popular too. Guy Ritchie was attached to bring the Last Czarnian to theaters in 2009.
After he departed, Dwayne Johnson stepped in to play the alien anti-hero biker. But he and director Brad Peyton also left the movie. The character will be seen during this second season of Krypton. Hopefully, he’ll generate enough popularity on TV to finally warrant the big screen treatment.
6 Canceled: Zatanna
Magic exists big time in the DC Universe in the form of Zatanna. The sorceress has been seen on Smallville, played by Serinda Swan. In 2005, Hadley Davis claimed she had written an action–comedy treatment for Zatanna, but that was about it.
DC might have given up on Davis’ treatment, but not Zatanna Zatara. She’s currently on the docket as one of the characters in the proposed Justice League Dark film. The team, which also includes Constantine and Deadman, are tasked with handling the more supernatural elements of the DCU.
5 Still Could Be Made: Hawkman
Another alien superhero, Hawkman has all types of strange origin stories. All of the Hawkmen of the DCU use Nth Metal to allow them to fly. The two most popular incarnations are Katar Hol and Carter Hall. One is an alien from Thanagar, the other a descendant of ancient Egypt.
In 2011, Warner Bros. was looking for writers to try and (no pun intended) get this thing off the ground. But in the years since, any proposed project featuring the Thanagar race in the DCEU has been scrapped. But the right team can still bring this story to light in the new-look, seemingly anything goes and nothing’s connected DCEU.
4 Canceled: Jack Black’s Green Lantern
For anyone that feels like Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern was utterly terrible, take a deep breath, say to yourself “it really wasn’t that bad,” and be thankful that we don’t live in a world when Jack Black’s Green Lantern is a thing.
In the movie, the GL ring would have malfunctioned on its way to finding someone worthy and instead find Black instead. In a fit of rage, fans spoke up via the internet and were successful demanding this movie not be made.
3 Still Could Be Made: Flashpoint
Another victim of Warned Bros. reshuffling the deck on the DCEU, Flashpoint was canceled. While a movie is still being worked on, the original plan to introduce the alternate version of the DCU where Flash stops his mother’s slaying, sparking all kinds of changes has been scrapped. Which is a shame.
All of the various multiverses and alternate universes that exist in the DCU could have been introduced without harming any actual continuity that the DCEU was trying to create. Plus, seeing Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Batman would have been pretty cool.
2 Canceled: Cyborg
Cyborg has been one of the more popular members of the JLA and Teen Titans for several years now. Played in Justice League by Ray Fisher, he had the struggling young-adult trying to adjust to his powers vibe down pat.
Not only did the DCEU falling create a casualty out of Cyborg, Fisher himself once explained that making a live-action Cyborg movie would be way more expensive than Warner Bros. would be willing to pay for.
1 Still Could Be Made: Y: The Last Man
Ok, so Y: The Last Man doesn’t technically exist in the DCU proper, but the story has always been acclaimed among fans and critics alike. The series told the story of Yoric and his pet monkey, Ampersand. Yorick wakes up one day to find out that a plague wiped out seemingly all of the men on the planet except for him and his capuchin.
At one point, Shia LeBeouf was getting set to star. But his star faded and the comic book series adaptation faded as well. Until recently – while not on the big screen, FX recently ordered the series, starring Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk) set to play Yorick.