The superhero and comic book genres have exploded for more than ten years now both on the big and small screen. With DC and Marvel spreading their properties across multiple platforms, the golden age of superhero media is going to be alive for many years to come. Focusing on Marvel TV, several characters have come and gone in various shows in the last couple of years. Many have made it to air, both on broadcast as well as cable/streaming services.
However, there have been several projects that producers and networks were attempting at launching that, for different reasons, didn’t make it to air. Some projects landed at various stages whether it was getting a pilot order, series pick-up, or script development. Despite there being scripts, casts, concepts and more ready for these shows, they didn’t go forward. These are ten Marvel TV shows that almost happened.
10 John Ridley’s Mystery Drama (ABC)
In April 2015, ABC revealed that they were collaborating with John Ridley (12 Years a Slave, American Crime) as he was developing a mysterious Marvel series for the Disney-owned network. Reports stated that Ridley was “reinventing” an already established Marvel Comics character or property. What followed was two years of brief updates that raised more questions about the project rather than clarify what Ridley was doing.
The last concrete update we had about Ridley’s project was in August 2017. During an interview with former ABC president Channing Dungey, she stated that she wasn’t even sure if Ridley was working on the project anymore. Despite the intentions to craft a series that would give superhero viewers something new and fresh, it’s almost safe to say that whatever Ridley’s show was going to be, is dead at this point.
9 Hellfire Club (FOX)
Before 20th Century Fox Television had The Gifted and Legion, they almost had a completely different X-Men show in mind: Hellfire Club. In late 2017, Marvel revealed that they and 20th Century Fox Television were teaming up for a series centered on the Hellfire Club. The series would have been set in the late 1960s where we’d meet a young Special Agent who begins to follow a power-hungry woman with mutant powers. This mutant would be part of the Hellfire Club, consisted of high society members who were planning to take over the world.
But by July 2016, the series was scrapped in favor of The Gifted. In an October 2017 interview with longtime X-Men producer, Lauren Schuler Donner revealed the project didn’t go forward due to “too many characters” and “not enough depth of character.”
8 Mystery Marvel Comedy (ABC)
ABC became the home of a number of Marvel shows, including Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and more. Having done a few drama shows, the network actually tried to develop a few Marvel shows in the comedy genre.
Back in January 2016, former ABC Entertainment president Paul Lee revealed during the TCA Winter Press Tour that year that they were working on an untitled Marvel comedy. But nothing emerged after his statement. Although this isn’t the only Marvel comedy show that ABC was trying to do, but more on that later.
7 Deadpool (FXX)
In May 2017, FXX and Marvel TV revealed that a Deadpool animated show had been ordered straight to series from actor/producer Donald Glover. Along with his brother Stephen Glover, they would write and executive produce the series that had been ordered for ten episodes. However, fans were in for a shock when FXX revealed during March 2018 that they had pulled the plug on the show.
The network stated that it was “creative differences” that resulted in FXX in withdrawing their involvement with the show. In February 2019 during the TCA Winter Press Tour, FX CEO John Landgraf made a surprise statement on why the show didn’t happen. Apparently, it was Marvel that wasn’t happy with the direction the show was taking and hence they canceled it.
6 Allan Heinberg’s Female Team Show (ABC)
In September 2018, ABC had granted a production commitment to an untitled Marvel drama that would consist of female superheroes. Heinberg was set to write and executive produce the series, following his involvement with the Wonder Woman film.
Reportedly, the project would have featured “lesser-known” Marvel characters. Despite a big commitment, in February of this year, ABC ended up not going forward with the project for unknown reasons.
5 Marvel’s Most Wanted (ABC)
For a hot second, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. almost had a spin-off series on ABC: Marvel’s Most Wanted. After being introduced on the spy drama, Adrianne Palicki’s Bobbi Morse a.k.a. Mockingbird and Nick Blood’s Lance Hunter got a pilot order for a spin-off series in August 2015. The news came months after ABC had initially passed on a S.H.I.E.L.D. spin-off with the two characters. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. executive producer Jeffrey Bell and writer Paul Zbyszewski were attached to write and produce the drama.
The two characters exited the series during season three to film the pilot. Several actors were cast in main or recurring roles for the spin-off, including Delroy Lindo as Marvel’s Dominic Fortune. The series would have followed Bobbi and Hunter as ex-agents on the run. They would have teamed-up with Dominic while also trying to “uncover the conspiracy that put their own lives in jeopardy.” While the show was reportedly “close to series order,” by May 2016, ABC still didn’t go forward with Most Wanted.
4 The Hulk (ABC)
While many fans have wanted a new Hulk film for years now, Bruce Banner almost had his own ABC series. From 2010 to somewhere in 2012/2013, there was a big attempt at a new Hulk show, with writer/director Guillermo del Toro attached to it. Envisioned as an origin story for a 20-something Bruce, this would somehow have been tied to Mark Ruffalo’s version of the hero in the MCU.
Following Ruffalo’s performance in 2012’s The Avengers, this is where the show entered development hell. Despite several updates from del Toro about the progression of the script to him waiting on a specific writer, the project was just stuck. By 2013, it was clear that the Hulk show had been shelved.
3 New Warriors (Freeform)
In August 2016, Marvel TV and ABC Studios were in the early stages of developing a New Warriors comedy series featuring Squirrel Girl as one of the leads. By April 2017, Freeform picked it up to series with a ten-episode order. A cast was put together including Milana Vayntrub as Squirrel Girl and a pilot was filmed.
But in November 2017 when Freeform revealed that the series wouldn’t air on their network as Marvel TV began shopping it around. As of October 2019, the series is considered to be dead.
2 Damage Control (ABC)
Another comedy series that ABC was eying from the world of Marvel was Damage Control. In October 2015, ABC handed out a put pilot commitment for a Damage Control comedy series from executive producer/writer Ben Karlin (The Daily Show, The Colbert Report).
Following the construction company from the comics, the series was set in the MCU featuring “the overworked, underpaid, clean-up” crew. Given there were no further updates after 2016, this became another project to get scrapped quietly.
1 Ghost Rider (Hulu)
Robbie Reyes a.k.a. the fifth Ghost Rider came to life during the fourth season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. played by Gabriel Luna. With Luna’s portrayal being well-received by fans and critics, people wanted more Ghost Rider. In May of this year, Hulu announced that they had ordered a Ghost Rider and Helstrom series that were set to air in 2020. Although it would be a “new iteration” of Luna’s character, causing confusion about whether this would have anything to do with his version from the ABC drama. Justified’s Ingrid Escajeda was attached as showrunner.
The series was set to follow Robbie’s life living on the Texas/Mexico border while bringing vengeance for the innocent people he encounters as the demonic anti-hero. But in September came the bad news that Hulu had decided to not move forward with the project due to creative differences, with Luna also confirming the cancelation. There’s no telling whether or not this mark as the end for the actor’s time with Robbie Reyes in the MCU.