Long before the DC Extended Universe was created, Warner Bros. intended to introduce the cinematic Justice League for the first time through Justice League: Mortal. Helmed by Mad Max: Fury Road director George Miller, the blockbuster was intended to pit the team against Maxwell Lord, and it would have existed separately from the then still-in-progress Dark Knight trilogy. Due to unfortunate circumstances, the movie never saw the light of day, and Miller provided more details about its demise.
When asked about several of the DC projects that he didn’t end up directing, George Miller told THR that the Justice League: Mortal was the main one, and it was thanks to financial difficulties that it fell through. Miller explained:
That was, oh, seven years ago, I think. And there was a really great script...I really was attracted to it...And we cast it really quickly and we mounted it very quickly. And it depended on a start date and it depended on some basic rebate legislation that had just got through a new Australian government. But it was just too big a decision for them to make in the time. And that fell through and the whole film fell through.
Another complication that hurt Justice League: Mortal was the Writers Guild of America strike, which kicked off the same month that production on the movie was set to begin. Once the strike ended in February 2008, Miller and Warner Bros. tried to get back on track for the Australia-based shoot, but after those financial issues down under, production was moved to Vancouver, Canada, and the release date was pushed back to 2009. With increasing delays, Justice League: Mortal was finally scrapped by mid-2008, and WB opted to focus on realizing individual movies featuring the heroes. 2011’s Green Lantern was originally intended to kick off a shared DC film universe, but after that flopped at the box office, 2013’s Man of Steel filled that role instead.
Despite Justice League: Mortal now being one of the many superhero movies that audiences never got to experience, there may still be some hope to see what it would have looked like. In the same vein as last year’s documentary, The Death Of Superman Lives: What Happened?, it was announced last year that a project tentatively titled Miller’s Justice League Mortal will feature interviews with the cast and crew, concept art, costumes and more. However, the last update on that was six months ago, when director Ryan Unicomb said he hadn’t heard back about Warner Bros. about moving ahead with the project. So if WB never gives the okay, we’ll just have to depend entirely on our imaginations to see it…well, that and the art that already made its way online.
The cinematic Justice League will now form in 2017’s Justice League: Part One, followed by Justice League: Part Two in 2019. As for George Miller, he has more Mad Max movies, and other projects, ahead, so he has plenty to keep busy with in the near future.