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Justice League: Part One will be the cinematic debut of DC Comics’ premiere superhero team, but it wasn’t the first time a film based on them tried to get off the ground. Back in 2007, Warner Bros began planning Justice League: Mortal for a 2009 release, and for most of that year things went smoothly. However, in the beginning of 2008, the movie was scrapped due to the Writers Guild strike and other production obstacles, and according to one of its stars, fans missed out on an impressive cinematic spectacle.
Actor D.J. Cotrona, who was set to play Superman in Justice League: Mortal, told Slash Film that fans missed out on seeing director George Miller’s gigantic interpretation, citing this year’s Mad Max: Fury Road as proof of what he could have accomplished with the DC heroes. Cotrona said:
The best way I can describe it is: George Miller’s mind is so operatic and big and expansive, it’s a shame that the world didn’t get to see what he would do with superheroes. It was allegorical, like a story of Greek Gods almost. He was doing things with the Superman character and Batman character, and all the iconic favorites, that’s never been done before. Watch Fury Road and you can only imagine what he would do with those iconic characters.
Considering the universal acclaim Mad Max: Fury Road has earned since its May release, it’s hard to argue with Cotrona’s reasoning about Miller, who hadn’t directed a live-action film since 1998’s Babe: Pig in the City. Miller’s next project is Mad Max: The Wasteland, but perhaps because of the success of the latest Mad Max installment, Warner Bros. might want to consider recruiting Miller again now that their film plans are more cemented.
Had Justice League: Mortal moved forward as planned, its main cast cast would have consisted of Cotrona, Armie Hammher as Batman, Megan Gale as Wonder Woman, Adam Brody as The Flash, Common as Green Lantern, Santiago Cabrera as Aquaman, Hugh Keays-Byrne as Martian Manhunter, Jay Baruchel as Maxwell Lord, and Teresa Palmer as Talia Al Ghul. After the film fell apart, Warner Bros. refocused on putting out solo films for the big DC heroes, and several years later, they eventually began planning what is now their current cinematic universe.
While we’ll never see Justice League: Mortal fully realized on the big screen, there is a documentary being planned from Australian director Ryan Unicomb that will explore the abandoned film in the same vein as the recent The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened? Under the working title Miller’s Justice League Mortal, the documentary promises to feature interviews with the cast and crew, concept art, and even a few costumes.
As for what comic book fans and regular moviegoers will be getting in the near future, Justice League: Part One hits theaters on November 17, 2017, with Justice League: Part Two following on June 14, 2019.