For every one film that gets green lit and sees the silver screen, there’s about ten films that only make it to the concept board. This is no exception with comic book movies. There’s a lot of ideas that got shot down before they could be filmed. Some of them make you wish they happened, others simply make you scratch your head. But either way, it’s fascinating to look at all of the “what ifs” in Hollywood, and comic book adaptations have a lot of them. So here’s the first half of the top ten “what ifs” that will make you go “WTF!?” (in a good or bad way). The only rule is that they have to be comic book adaptations, they actually had to be conceptualized in some shape or form, and they had to be significantly different from any actual film that was made from the franchise. So here’s the top 10.
#10 Batman vs. Superman
From "I Am Legend"
The plot: Batman and Superman get into a big fight. Why? Well, take into account that Bruce Wayne has taken a serious mental breakdown…after Dick Grayson, Alfred Pennyworth, and Commissioner Gordon have all died. WTF!? If that isn’t enough, Clark Kent is going through a divorce with Lois Lane. However, not all is hopeless. Bruce Wayne gets married to Elizabeth Miller…and the Joker shoots her during their honeymoon. Even Batman has his limits, but apparently Superman can hold on enough to at least hold back Batman from plotting a revenge scheme against the Joker. If you don’t believe any of this can be true, why don’t you read the script.
Why it didn’t happen: That fiery place known as development hell. Also, probably because they went on to do Batman Begins.
Should it have happened?: Might have been interesting, but I can see why it wasn’t made. For starters, it completely reboots both franchises. Meaning that they couldn’t capitalize on Reeve’s Superman or the Burton/Schumacher Batman other than the names themselves. Plus, it would be the first of a versus superhero film, and a dark film considering it was the early 00s. Meaning that it would’ve been a huge risk, and I don’t think it would’ve been a risk worth taking. Especially considering that it would have killed the chance of Batman Begins being made.
#9 Super Max (Green Arrow)
The plot: The Green Arrow gets framed for a crime he didn’t commit and is sent to a maximum security prison (not like that plot has ever been used before…). Of course, it happens to be a prison filled with big time supervillains, including Lex Luthor and the Joker. As with any sane person, the Green Arrow plans to break out. Or in the words of screenwriter Justin Marks….
It’s a very, very awesome prison. I majored in architecture in college, and design is how I actually started in. For ‘Super Max,’ designing that prison, it had to be the kind of thing that was a character in and of itself…We’re in a world where instead of just trying to contain a guy who’s really big, you’re trying to contain a guy who can — in the case of Icicle — who can freeze things. What kind of a cell would a guy like that need in order to have his powers neutralized? So to escape from Super Max they have got to go through the most elaborate heist we’ve ever seen, involving superpowers. Because the prison itself kind of has superpowers!
Why it didn’t happen: Developmental hell, pushed aside for other projects, yada yada yada.
Should it have happened?: I love the Green Arrow and I’d love to see the Joker, the Riddler, and Lex Luthor outside of a Superman/Batman film. With that being said, the prison break idea seems iffy to me. Especially when they could adapt the Mike Grell Green Arrow, which is just screaming for an adaptation.
#8 Cameron’s Spider-Man
Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images
The plot: It’s your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man up against a corrupt capitalist called Electro and an experiment gone wrong Sandman. Spider-Man gets his powers, learns that with great power comes great responsibility, gets into a fight on top of the World Trade Center, uses profanity, has Kafka hallucinations, and has a sex scene with Mary Jane.
Why it didn’t happen: Carlaco was the one who backed the project. Do you remember Carlaco? Not unless you were born before the 90s, because that company went kaput just like many other small/medium budget studios. And financial troubles caused them to shelve Spider-Man.
Should it have happened?: Well, James Cameron did Terminator 2, True Lies, and a bunch of other films during the 90s. And they were AWESOME! With that being said, though, a foul mouthed, flu vomiting Spider-Man might’ve been less edgy and more tacky. And that also means Raimi’s Spider-Man wouldn’t have been made. Love it or hate it, Raimi’s Spider-Man essentially kick started the whole superhero film run. So sorry Jim, but…no.
#7 She Hulk
The plot: Unknown. All the solid evidence that can be found is that it was going to star Brigitte Nielsen and be written and directed by Larry Cohen during the early 90s. There’s even some test photos with her.
Why it didn’t happen: Same old, same old. Developmental hell, studios decided to scrap it, etc.
Should it have happened?: Sure, why not? Worst comes to worst, it would be another Captain America. But as bad as that would be, it wouldn’t kill the future of comic book movies. The best that would happen is that it would be a surprisingly good and mostly faithful adaptation. But it would probably be one of those irresistible “so bad it’s good” films. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.
#6 Iron Man
The plot: Well, Iron Man suffered a long developmental hell before it got made into a film, and there were a lot of versions made and scrapped. For example, Jeff Vintar and Stan ‘the Man’ Lee wrote a script that was well liked by the studio (although they allowed the rights to lapse), and plenty of directors such as Quentin Tarantino and Joss Whedon were approached to direct. However, that’s expected of any major franchise having a long road to being made into a film. One script idea that wasn’t completely scrapped was Tony Stark as Iron Man…vs. Howard Stark as War Machine. WTF!!???
Why it didn’t happen: Again, development hell and one concept being scrapped for ultimately a much, much, much, much, much better concept.
Should it have happened?: No, no, and a thousand times no. Iron Man basically set the stage for all of Marvel Studios’ films. Favreau’s Iron Man proved that successful comic book films could be very faithful, and be humorous (a.k.a. not Ang’s Hulk) without being silly. Had the other Iron Man been made, Marvel Studios might’ve fallen into the same comic book movie pitfalls that plagued 80s, 90s, and early 00s comic book movies.
So there you have it. Five films that could’ve been. Stay tuned next week, as we cover atomic governors, father/daughter relationships, and giant tarantulas.