We're living in the golden age of superhero movies. Never let anyone tell you otherwise. Over the course of the last decade, we have seen innumerable comic book characters grace the silver screen with truly amazing results. With the debut of Iron Man in 2008, we learned that even the most obscure heroes could achieve mainstream appeal if treated properly by a filmmaker.
However, for every great superhero movie that made its way to theaters, there was another that died in development hell. To honor those sacrifices, we've compiled a list of some of the coolest Marvel movies that never materialized. Take a look at our entries, and let us know your favorite unmade Marvel movie in the comments section below. Now, let's get the ball rolling with one superhero property that Hollywood simply hasn't figured out just yet.
Peyton Reed's Fantastic Four
Marvel's first family hasn't had an easy time on the silver screen since... well they've never really had a strong presence in cinema. However, that could've changed when Ant-Man director, Peyton Reed, found himself attached to helm a Fantastic Four reboot that would go on to become the reviled 2005 film. As a lifelong fan of the Fantastic Four, Reed remained committed to the project through its development hell until it eventually morphed into the laughable 2005 outing, and he dropped out. Opening up about the project recently, Reed revealed that his vision was to take the Fantastic Four from the "B-level" status that 20th Century Fox had kept them at, and give them the blockbuster treatment that would become the standard a full decade later. He likened several of the sequences he had planned for the film to the Battle of New York from The Avengers, and that alone should instantly tell you what we missed out on. With the success of Ant-Man, perhaps Marvel will give him creative control if Fox ever decides to sell the rights. He's definitely earned it.
Guillermo del Toro's Doctor Strange
Despite the fact that Benedict Cumberbatch's version of the Sorcerer Supreme will soon make his theatrical debut under the sharp eye of director Scott Derrickson, another horror icon almost took the reigns a number of years ago. According to the reports, Guillermo del Toro and Neil Gaiman met with the higher ups at Marvel Studios in 2008 to pitch a Doctor Strange movie, but the studio ultimately rejected it -- which makes sense, as the Marvel Cinematic Universe was still on shaky ground at that time. Concrete details surrounding the ill fated project remain sketchy at best, but a partnership between del Toro and Gaiman could only promise one thing: a truly otherworldly examination of the supernatural. One look at del Toro's filmography -- Hellboy, Crimson Peak, Pacific Rim, etc. -- will instantly tell you that his keen eye could've crafted one of the most visually stunning Marvel movies ever committed to film.
X-Men: Origins - Magneto
I know; just reading the phrase X-Men Origins sends a chill down your spine, but try to forget about the abysmal X-Men Origins: Wolverine for a moment. As part of a series of planned standalone movies, X-Men Origins: Magneto would've chronicled the early years of Erik Lehnsherr before meeting Charles Xavier and becoming the supervillain known as Magneto. An origin story in the truest sense, the film would've revolved around the trauma he experienced at Auschwitz during the Holocaust, along with his mission to hunt down the Nazis who took his family from him. Although much of this narrative would eventually find itself condensed into the first act of X-Men: First Class, we think it's a shame that 20th Century Fox never devoted an entire film to this dark, gritty, mutant revenge story, as those were basically the best scenes in First Class anyway. Damn you for ruining this for us, X-Men: Origins - Wolverine.
Joe Carnahan's Daredevil
Director Joe Carnahan is no stranger to style, and that's exactly what he would've shown audiences if given the chance to bring his Daredevil vision to life. Originally planned as a trilogy, Carnahan's take on the Man Without Fear would have taken the action back in time to a hyper stylized (and hyper violent) version of Hell's Kitchen in the 1970s. However, the rights to the character sadly reverted back to Marvel before he could make his vision a reality. Although Netflix's Daredevil retains many of the hard R sensibilities that Carnahan wanted to bring into his own version of the character, we're left wondering what his pulp version of old, and neon drenched Hell's Kitchen would have looked like. At least we can all agree that both of these options are better than the 2003 Ben Affleck version.
Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 4
Opinions regarding Spider-Man 3 seem to have softened in recent years. Nobody's calling it a masterpiece, but there's certainly a segment of the audience that recognizes that Sam Raimi deserved a fourth shot at the Web Head. Following the events of Spider-Man 3, Raimi's Spider-Man 4 would have sent Spidey up against John Malkovich's Adrian Toomes a.k.a Vulture, Anne Hathaway's Felicia Hardy a.k.a Black Cat (the actress would ironically go on to portray DC's Catwoman several years later), and Dylan Baker's Curt Connors a.k.a Lizard. Raimi actively recognized the flaws with Spider-Man 3 and wanted to end the series on a high-note, so we have a feeling he would've fired on all cylinders and delivered a story to rival even that of Spider-Man 2.
Oliver Stone's Elektra: Assassin
Elodie Yung is still trying to undo negative impact of Jennifer Garner's take on the role of Elektra Natchios, but we almost got a very, very different version of the character from Oliver Stone long before she ever debuted on the silver screen. Titled Elektra: Assassin (a name inspired by Frank Miller's run on the character) the film would've followed the titular killer as she hunted members of the legendary ninja organization known as The Hand. The basic premise is actually quite similar to the second season of Daredevil upon closer inspection. Sadly, like so many other entries on this list, the rights to Elektra were sold -- thus dashing Oliver Stone's hopes of making the film. All's well that ends well, I suppose, as she has found a nice home for herself in the Daredevil corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Wesley Snipes' Black Panther
Although Wesley Snipes would eventually go on to portray another prominent black superhero in 1998's Blade, he reportedly was also in talks to take on the role of T'Challa a.k.a Black Panther as far back as 1992. Those talks eventually fell through, and the character remained dormant until Chadwick Boseman stepped into the vibranium suit in this year's Captain America: Civil War. Upon learning that fact, it's hard not to imagine that the superhero genre would look completely different today if Snipes took the role. With a bankable, black action star headlining a (presumably) PG-13 comic book franchise, it's entirely plausible that the mainstream superhero genre could've started much sooner, and in a much more diverse place than it did with Bryan Singer's X-Men in 2000.
Greg Berlanti's Iron Man
Before Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau forever changed the course of the comic book movie genre with the original Iron Man back in 2008, the Arrow-verse's Greg Berlanti took a crack at it by pitching a very, very different version of Tony Stark to Marvel. Instead of a family-friendly action romp -- which would more or less become the tonal standard for the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe -- Berlanti pitched Iron Man as Lord of War meets the Marvel mythos. Berlanti's Tony Stark felt ripped straight from the comics -- a hard drinking, war profiteering anti-hero with a serious dark side and a chip on his shoulder. As you've probably assumed: Marvel didn't go for it. In the end, Berlanti himself admitted that he preferred Favreau's Iron Man to his own, but it still would've been amazing to see a far darker and more pensive take on the material.