Volume 4, Issue 29!
“The Superhero Movies That Might Have Been”
The current trend going around these days is documentaries about comic book films that never made it to the big screen. Metalocalpyse’s John Schnepp has finally finished and started to release his documentary about Tim Burton and Nicolas Cage’s failed Superman Lives project, and after the success of Mad Max: Fury Road, another documentary has popped up, this time focusing on the failed Justice League film that was set to roll back in 2010. The halls of major studios are littered with the corpses of failed movies, and in the spirit of these two documentaries, let’s take a look at some of them.
The follow-up to Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin arguably sounds like a bigger mess than Superman Lives would’ve been. From introducing Tim Drake to having Harley Quinn appear as the Joker’s daughter (played by Madonna no less), the stories surrounding the production of this aborted fifth Batman film (also known as Batman: DarkNight), is a perfect example of a studio desperately trying to salvage a franchise. Hell, they even tried to get Jack Nicholson to reprise his role as The Joker in a hallucination caused by Scarecrow’s fear toxin. Yep, Scarecrow would’ve also gotten the Schumacher treatment, and the list of names bandied about to play Jonathan Crane ranged from Nicolas Cage to Jeff Goldblum to Steve Buscemi. With The Death of Superman Lives arriving, I’m hoping for a sequel that takes a look at this insane film.
Before Oliver Queen made his TV debut on the CW’s Arrow, Man of Steel producer David S Goyer pitched a film entitled Supermax, which would find Green Arrow framed for murder, captured, and imprisoned in a maximum security prison with a numerous criminals that he put away. Goyer stated that there would be cameos from The Riddler, Lex Luthor, and even The Joker, and the plot would center around Oliver Queen’s attempt to escape a new maximum security prison with the help of the criminals he put away. The film is still being listed as "in development" at Warner Bros, but isn’t currently an active film. Whether it happens or not remains to be seen, but it would make for a pretty good season of Arrow.
Joe Carnahan’s Daredevil
Fox’s Daredevil wasn’t the hit they wanted it to be, but they did have some plans for the Man without Fear before the character went back to Marvel. A-Team and The Grey director Joe Carnahan pitched a 70’s set Daredevil film that would borrow heavily from the Frank Miller classic stories. Carnahan even went so far to create a pitch reel using scenes from Shaft, Taxi Driver, and other 70’s crime flicks in an attempt to get Fox to consider asking Marvel to extend the rights. Of course, we know now what came of Marvel’s use of the character on Netflix, but Carnahan’s pitch definitely makes one curious for what might have been.
Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns Sequel
Superman Returns is a pretty weird movie. From being a sorta sequel to Superman 2 to having Superman and Lois have a super-child, there’s a lot to unpack with the 2006 Superman film. While Returns didn’t exactly light up the box office or get glowing praise from critics, that didn’t stop WB and Singer from looking at different storylines for the sequel (which would’ve also been called Man of Steel, interestingly enough). Singer bounced around ideas from Brainiac to Darkseid, and stated that he wanted to “Wrath of Kahn it”, and while he never got that chance, it would’ve been intriguing to see what exactly Singer would do with another go around with the Man of Steel, especially with that super kid.
To say that Spider-Man 3 is uneven is being polite. Sam Raimi’s final Spider-Man movie was fraught with studio (and Avi Arad) meddling, but he never fully left the franchise right away. After losing out on using The Vulture in Spider-Man 3 so Venom could be shoehorned in, John Malkovich was in talks as the Vulture, with Anne Hathaway also being considered for the role of Felicia Hardy, who instead of being Black Cat would be “The Vulturess” (Raimi’s now gone on record stating that Felicia Hardy would’ve stayed Black Cat). Despite four drafts, Raimi still wasn’t happy with the script, and he parted with Sony amicably because he couldn’t reach their filming release date. Raimi’s long expressed his disappointment with Spider-Man 3, and that he wanted to “end the Spider-Man franchise on a high note”. It’s a shame that he never got that chance.
With some of these films it’s a bummer that they didn’t make it to the silver screen. But for more of them, it’s a blessing. But there’s plenty more where these came from, and I’m sure we’ll see a lot more in the future, despite the success of Marvel Studios and WB.