If the cinematic planets had aligned differently, Nicolas Cage would have had another flame-headed mad-faced driver to add to his filmography alongside Ghost Rider. According to Crank co-director Brian Taylor, his planned film adaptation of the video game Twisted Metal would have been something else, and he would have had the one-time Johnny Blaze playing the mascot character Sweet Tooth.
For those that may have missed out, Twisted Metal was a very popular game franchise in its day, with the first title being released on the original PlayStation back in 1995. The concept was basically a cross between a fighting tournament and a destruction derby, with OTT weapons and other boosts being available to players fighting through a series of arenas. What marked it as being different to other vehicle-based combat games at the time, was the dark humor and wacky horror-tinged storyline. Players were able to choose markedly different characters, which affected the abilities of the vehicles they drove. Most popular was Sweet Tooth, a demonic clown that drove an heavily-armed ice-cream truck, and would go on to become the figurehead for the franchise throughout the sequels.
Back in 2012, it was reported that Sony had hired Taylor to film a live-action movie of the game. It was timed perfectly to coincide with the release of a rebooted version of the game, and Taylor had just come off Ghost Rider: Spirt of Vengeance. Despite the usual curse of bad video game films, it seemed to be promising project at the time. However, the film never got past the planning stages, but that didn't stop Taylor from talking about the project during an interview with Collider at TIFF 2017. According to the director, one main reason for the film to stall was the failed reboot of the franchise by Sony:
"Sony came out with a new version of the game, didn't really sell that well. So they had this property that was kind of like this 'tweener'. It was a movie that felt like it needed to be $50 million, but they didn't feel that the fanbase really merited that kind of movie; it really wanted to be more of a $15 million movie, but the nature of it with the set pieces would've just made it too big."
But Taylor was very confident that he could've delivered an awesome movie if the budget had been there. He even compares the unrealised project as being close to the ultimate apocalyptical car movie Mad Max: Fury Road. He goes on to say:
"That was gonna be badass ... It was kind of like Fury Road before Fury Road in a way. The set pieces in Twisted Metal were kind of the same thing."
On top of all that, Taylor's prime choice for playing Sweet Tooth would have definitely have been Cage. The character has a convoluted and crazy backstory running through the games, but one thing that has remained constant has been his evil clown visage and the flaming head. He's also said to be a irredeemable killer and even murders members of his own family. Given Cage's previous hyper performances, it's remarkably easy to see him in the part and chewing up scenery.
Although Taylor - who is currently working on Happy! - would revisit the project if the budget was made available, given the low-profile of the franchise at the moment it's unlikely to ever happen. But despite the normal sub-quality of video game translations, this is one film that you can't help wondering just how mad and explosive it could have been.