Fate could have taken a dramatically different turn if one particular superhero project had worked out for Warner Bros. back in 2009. Presumably titled Justice League Mortal, it was to be directed by Mad Max mastermind George Miller… until it all fell apart. Now folks fascinated by the 86’d attempt are putting together a documentary illustrating what went wrong on this once-auspicious epic.
According to Inside Film Magazine, Australian director Ryan Unicomb is planning a feature length documentary chronicling the nixed attempt to film the DC superhero mega-flick in Australia. Working under the title Miller’s Justice League Mortal, the documentary will feature interviews with cast and crew member from the ill-fated production, as well as reveal costumes and concept art, previously unseen by the public.
At the moment, these plans are still very much in the hypothetical stages, since the project will rely upon the legal blessing of George Miller and producer Doug Mitchell. In fact, Unicomb is still courting private investors, with possible plans to turn to crowdfunding. Should those plans have better success than the film project it documents, writer Maria Lewis will be brought on board, along with producers Aaron Cater and Steven Caldwell, to tell this tale of a would-be cinematic event that never manifested.
The project seems similar to the recent "what if" documentary The Death of Superman Lives, What Happened? by Jon Schnepp, which explores the story behind the nixed Tim Burton Superman film in which (frightening as it sounds) Nicolas Cage was to star as the Man of Steel. Yet Burton’s Superman was nowhere near the potential watershed moment that Miller’s Justice League Mortal planned on becoming, which could make for more time-relevant material for Unicomb’s film given the current state of the genre.
This documentary will show how there was plenty of activity over at the Warner Bros./DC camp regarding superheroes sharing the big screen for a potentially lucrative mega-movie back when Marvel’s sublime cinematic universe was just a gleam in the pre-production eyes of the first Iron Man film. While we can now point to 2012’s The Avengers and its recent sequel as having blown that lid wide open, machinations were well underway by 2007 to make such a thing for Warner/DC a reality first by 2009. However, Warner yanked the project in 2008.
Several events derailed this ambitious undertaking, notably the 2007-2008 Writer’s Guild strike, which pretty much left the entertainment industry catatonic behind the scenes for four critical months, creating losses estimated as high as $2.1 billion. Yet, after the dust cleared from that drama, more delays plagued the project, specifically relating to its Australia-based shoot, and Warner Bros. started to rethink its rollout strategy. By 2009, the Ryan Reynolds-starring Green Lantern was on the docket, allegedly serving as a launching point for a Marvel-like rollout of solo films, building to some kind of pièce de résistance.
Of course, Green Lantern was an emerald dud at the box-office in 2011, and things scattered from there until 2013’s Superman reboot, Man of Steel, set a new agenda. A documentary project such as the one proposed might create some appreciation for what could have been, as well as illuminate the current path with next year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and its planned solo efforts leading to a different Justice League film, one headed by Zack Snyder.
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