For a brief moment, the world’s eyes lit up when Marvel Comics looked to be teasing a comic adaptation of the abandoned script to what would have been director Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 4. Alas, that turned out to be false, as the tease was for a new Spidey comic book limited series written by J.J. Abrams and his son.
But in that hope came great inspiration. What if Hollywood opened its script vaults to the comic companies it so frequently works with, and instead let them adapt the movies?! What if Marvel or DC Comics took the scripts for abandoned films from their canons and turned them into comic runs? If that were to happen, fans might be utterly delighted by the prospect.
So for the moment, let’s pretend this scenario is very much in play, and the comic movies we’d always wanted to happen are being given a second chance at life. Here’s the list of discarded films we’d love to see rise again, in full color art, on a comic shop shelf near us:
Sam Raimi's Unfinished Spider-Man Franchise
You kind of have to start with Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man franchise, because not only is it the inspiration for this whole exercise, it’s also one of the greatest 'what ifs' in the comic film world. This film series could have stretched as far as six movies and introduced Peter Parker to each of the Sinister Six, resulting in him eventually being pitted against the entire group of supervillains in one knock-down, drag-out affair.
While Spider-Man 3 was definitely far from perfect, it’d still be an interesting concept to at least see the script for Spider-Man 4 adapted for comic audiences. Should the book sell well enough, then there could be a potential to finish out that entire alternate canon of films to the specifications that Sam Raimi and a trusted team of writers could complete. At the very least, seeing John Malkovich’s Vulture and Anne Hathaway’s Black Cat in the comic flesh would be something for the folks at home to enjoy.
Justice League: Part One and Two
We aren’t too far removed from that moment in time when Justice League was originally staked out as a two-part tentpole film to hold the DCEU together at the box office. While that plan eventually did change, and the story to Justice League: Part One and Two changed drastically enough that you can see easter eggs to where things could have gone in the films, there’s still a whole two-installment idea sitting on the page.
So rather than badger Warner Bros, its executives and anyone on staff who will listen with a demand to release the Snyder Cut, why not bring that original vision to live through a limited-run comic series? Zack Snyder and Chris Terrio’s original scripted work would be a perfect peace offering that could quell fan’s demands for that fabled alternate cut. Plus, should it be a runaway hit, you could very easily port over the scripts to various spin-offs like Cyborg and The Flash, which have been in limbo for so long that we’re not sure they’re even happening.
X-Men Origins: Magneto
The good news in the case of X-Men Origins: Magneto is the fact that we did see Michael Fassbender play out some of the events that would have transpired in that film through the story of X-Men: First Class. But the bad news doesn’t lie to far behind that point, as seeing Fassbender basically turn Magneto into a James Bond-esque character who hunts Nazis is something we’re always down for more of.
True, the film would also cover Magneto’s origins, which we’ve definitely seen before on film. But taking young Erik Lehnsherr’s early days of mutant ability and revenge, and finally committing them to a book that’d give audiences more Michael Fassbender action than they could ever hope for, would be more than an apology for some of the later, more lackluster films that have come to exist in the X-Men saga.
Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern Sequel
Believe it or not, the Ryan Reynolds variant of the Green Lantern did indeed have a sequel written for it. And part of that second film’s big journey was going to include, as we saw in the first film’s post-credits scene, Mark Strong’s Sinestro becoming a force for evil in the universe. If that isn’t a strong enough potential pivot point to reclaim a series on, we don’t know what is.
Seeing Sinestro wield the power of the Yellow Lantern would have made this Green Lantern sequel a potentially dark affair, as his power feeds off of fear. Acting as a perfect bookend to the first film’s more jovial, but still threatening tone, watching Sinestro and Hal Jordan square off might be a big enough draw that folks would read Reynolds and Strong’s pair go at it for the fate of the universe. Just don’t tell Deadpool, or he might get some ideas.
Let’s get real for a brief moment in comic book land: Gambit probably isn’t going to happen. It has too many albatrosses around its neck, what with a constant stream of directors leaving the project and numerous delays taking place before a frame of film is even shot. With The New Mutants’ fate unsure after Dark Phoenix took a bath at the box office, it doesn’t look like we’ll see Channing Tatum in the role any time soon.
But what if the script that was supposed to become a movie turned into a comic book? You could totally sell audiences on the prospect of Tatum’s Gambit for a fraction of the cost. And if it was popular enough, you could turn the sequel to the first stand-alone adventure of Remy LeBeau into a film that might start a franchise. At the bare minimum, Marvel would be able to recoup some of those costs spent on having the film written and almost made with such an enterprise.
Tim Burton is a figure that reigns supreme in the DC Comics environment, as he delivered Batman and Batman Returns as two of the most memorable successes in early comic movie history. And the possibilities for his third film, Batman Continues, were so great that not being able to see them on screen or in print is something that needs to be corrected at once.
Everything from Marlon Wayans’ being cast as Robin to Robin Williams allegedly being offered the role of The Riddler has colored Batman Continues as a film that would have been an absolute delight to watch. But if there’s any reason to bring this film to life in comic book form, it’s that fans could always ask for seconds with the Michelle Pfieffer Catwoman spinoff it apparently set up.
The Hank McCoy/Beast Spinoff
When reading that recent story about how X-Men franchise editor/composer John Ottman championed a script that would have seen Hank McCoy’s Beast engage in his own solo X-Men adventure, it felt like a truly good idea for the franchise had been passed on. Yes, it would have required Wolverine and Professor X to tell this Beast story, but considering his tenure in the films and his popularity, seeing Hank go wild is a story totally worth telling.
Nicholas Hoult’s portrayal of the character in the recent films certainly ups the ante, and his performance, as well as Kelsey Grammar’s in X-Men: The Last Stand, have given audiences someone they like seeing in a library as well as in the battlefield. A dark, R-rated adventure that finally pays off the Mr. Sinister plotline the X-Men films looked to be building towards would be quite the palette cleanser leading up to whatever plans the MCU has in store for the future of mutant-kind.
Justice League: Mortal
Once upon a time, director George Miller almost brought the world his own vision of what the DCEU could look like, as he was set to direct the film that would eventually become known as Justice League: Mortal. Another in a long line of projects that never got off the ground in the wake of DC Comics trying to jump start its comic movie operation, this film went as far as bringing the cast down to Australia before shuttering production.
For those who’d want to see Armie Hammer’s Batman, D.J. Catrona’s Superman or even Adam Brody and Anton Yelchin as dual Flashes on the Justice League team, Justice League: Mortal has to be one of the most sought after hypotheticals of comic movie history. And all it would take is the right team at DC to turn the page on this concept, bringing it to life once and for all.
Drew Goddard's Sinister Six
The Amazing Spider-Man duology, for all of its flaws, seemed to have a clear direction as to where it was headed. You don’t just drop a Sinister Six tease at the end of your movie, especially one that lays out which members are going to be involved, without an idea behind it. Writer/director Drew Goddard had that idea in play, and if Sony would rather play it safe than keep people’s hopes up, it can always send this story over to Marvel Comics for the full five-star treatment.
Described as a “much more commercial version” of The Cabin In The Woods’ off-the-wall antics, Sinister Six hasn’t been completely written off by Sony as a going concern. But should a movie not be in the cards in the near future, that description of Goddard’s concept alone is why this comic book needs to happen. And maybe, Drew Goddard can go a little anti-commercial and up the ante on the crazy in his sinister spinoff.
Joss Whedon's Wonder Woman
While he saw great success over at Marvel Studios, The Avengers’ Joss Whedon hasn’t seemed to have caught a break over at DC. Most recently, his Batgirl project with the studio failed to take flight, but before that he had a more infamous project that never saw the light of day: an infamously panned draft to what could have been the first Wonder Woman movie.
Apparently, Whedon’s ideas were a bit behind the times, and there was more of a focus on Steve Trevor than Diana of Themyscira herself. But considering how the author not only still backs the script, but also has been known for some insanely good character work in his career, it’s hard not to want to see what the good and the bad of Joss Whedon’s Wonder Woman would look like as a fully realized story.
Out of all the Superman concepts that never came to pass, Superman Lives has to be the holy grail of failed sequels. Director Tim Burton almost gave the world a film where not only was Nicolas Cage going to play Superman, but he was going to fight Lex Luthor, Braniac and Doomsday in the process. It’s an idea that’s obsessed comic movie fans with its possibilities, and it’s just too legendary to pass up.
With a concept that took “The Death of Superman” as part of its influences, and saw Lex Luthor and Braniac fuse together into a crazy cyborg hybrid, Superman Lives has captured imaginations with the story it could have told for decades. And even one of its screenwriters laments how it brought a new angle to the Superman mythos that would have made him even more identifiable. If the internet is obsessed enough with a story that it funds a documentary investigating how it never happened, you’re leaving money on the table by not turning that story into an actual comic book.
Joel Schumacher’s run as director in the Batman series may not have been memorable for all the right reasons, but the man’s stamp on films like Batman Forever and Batman & Robin is a hard one to forget. Good or bad, he lent a manic energy that fused Tim Burton’s gothic tendencies with the 1966 show’s colorful camp. So when discussing the biggest missed opportunities, his presumed third Batman film, Batman Unchained, would be a hell of a candidate for a comic of its own.
Were this film to have moved forward, we would have seen Harley Quinn and The Scarecrow enter the franchise for the first time, and Batman and Robin would have split up for a time. So there could have been a potential for dark, soul examining content mixed in with the reds and blues of the Schumacher world; and that’s a possibility we’d love to see examined on the page.
Green Arrow: Escape From Super Max
If a story about how Oliver Queen’s Green Arrow partners with members of DC Comics rogue’s gallery in a bid to break out of prison doesn’t excite you, then how the hell did you make it this far in the list? Green Arrow: Escape From Super Max would have seen just that story adapted for the screen, as Oliver was framed for an assassination he didn’t commit and was sent to the infamous Super Max prison as punishment.
Setting up the Green Arrow as already on his infamous crime stopping beat, the film ultimately never panned out and still sits on the DC Comics’ heap of unproduced film scripts. But seeing as Arrow is coming to an end, and this script is just waiting for a Oliver to call its own, merging this film script with Stephen Amell’s version of the character could give fans the pathway to further adventures with the beloved archer.
The world of comic movies is crazy, as one day a concept can be well hyped, with the next crushing its dreams of ever being seen by the public. But through the medium of comic books, sets don’t need to be built, special effects don’t need to be created, and if you can secure the likeness of your cast, you can have Michael Keaton playing Batman again in a heartbeat.
While the sun may have set on most of these films’ cinematic prospects, reviving them through the comic world could be a fantastic venture for comic companies looking to boost sales, as well as fans who want to see what these films may have been like were they ever made. If DC Comics can create further adventures of Batman ’66 in the printed word, the sky is indeed the limit.