For every comic book film that gets made, there seems to be a dozen or so that get thrown away into development hell. Some were great ideas that just happened to have bad timing, while others are simply best never to be mentioned. But either way, they’re sure as hell fascinating to take a look at. So here’s the rest of the top 10 comic book films that never got made. Some should’ve been made, some shouldn’t have, and others will simply make you say WTF!?
The plot: Well, it depends on what draft we’re talking about. However, in the late eighties, Sam Hamm (Batman) wrote a script that had narrowed it down to about two hours and had changed the ending with an assassination as well as a time paradox. Then Terry Gilliam took it up a notch in the second draft by using Rorschach’s diary as the voice over, and Joel Silver wanted Arnold Schwarzenegger as Dr. Manhatttan. It’s unclear how different the movie would’ve been, although considering it was going to be condensed as a two hour film during a time when comic book films weren’t so faithful, it’s not much of a stretch to say that it might have been a different Watchmen than the comics.
Why it didn’t happen: It was going to go into production, but Silver and Gilliam were only able to raise $25 million for the project, not nearly enough even adjusted for inflation.
Should it have happened?: Watchmen might have not been the best film, but it was fairly faithful to the comic book, there were a lot of great scenes such as the opening, and Jackie Earl Haley’s (Rorschach) and Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s (The Comedian) performances made the film worth it. The late 80s/early 90s Watchmen might have had its moments. After all, who wouldn’t want to see Ahnuld as Dr. Manhattan, and it would’ve been interesting to see a Watchmen film made near the time that the comic book took place (a.k.a. actual 80s and not the Tears for Fears muzak 80s). However, I think it was worth waiting two decades for it to finally be made.
#4 Black Widow
The plot: In the words of Black Widow‘s screenwriter David Hayter (from Tales from the Script)….
I had a very solid relationship with Marvel, having worked on a number of films with them, and I was looking for something to write and direct. They brought up Black Widow, and I knew the character very well from the comic book. So I spent about a year working on the script, and I was extremely happy with it. Essentially, the story is a young Russian girl’s parents are killed, so she’s given to the KGB to be developed into a super spy. In her early teen years, the Soviet Union crumbles, so they decide to kill her. But at that point, she’s too tough to kill, so she escapes and makes her way to America. Then, years later, we catch up with her in present day. She’s a freelance mercenary, and she’s called back to where she was brought up to face her past. What I tried to do was use the backdrop of the splintered Soviet Empire – a lawless insane asylum with four hundred some odd nuclear missile silos. It was all about loose nukes, and I felt it was very timely and very cool.
Why it didn’t happen: Furthermore from David Hayter….
Unfortunately, as I was coming up on the final draft, a number of female vigilante movies came out. We had Tomb Raider and Kill Bill, which were the ones that worked, but then we had BloodRayne and Ultraviolet and Aeon Flux. Aeon Flux didn’t open well, and three days after it opened, the studio said, “We don’t think it’s time to do this movie.” I accepted their logic in terms of the saturation of the marketplace, but it was pretty painful. I had not only invested a lot of time in that movie, but I had also named my daughter, who was born in that time period Natasha – after the lead character in Black Widow. I named my daughter after a movie that I wasn’t working on anymore.
Should it have happened?: YES!!! If there was any film that needed to be made, it’s Black Widow. Aside from the awesome story, it would’ve been written and directed by David Hayter (a.k.a. Solid Snake), who’s had his experience writing comic book films such as Watchmen and the first two X-Men. Considering that it’s Marvel, it would’ve been faithful to the comic books. Oh well…coulda woulda shoulda. Although, with Black Widow’s mainstream popularity on the rise now after The Avengers, perhaps it’s time Marvel took that script off the dusty shelves and turned it into a reality.
#3 Batman Triumphant
The plot: This would’ve taken place after the events of Batman and Robin. This time Batman, Robin, and Batgirl would face the Scarecrow, as well as Madonna…as Harley Quinn. Oh and did I mention that Harley Quinn would’ve been the Joker’s daughter??? Furthermore, Jack Nicholson would’ve reprised his role as the Joker in a series of Scarecrow hallucinations.
Why it didn’t happen: The critical disaster of Batman and Robin.
Should it have happened?: Had Batman and Robin been the same quality of Batman Forever, a.k.a. a decent film (yes, I liked Batman Forever), and had the studio not pressured Joel Schumacher into making Batman into a kid friendly toy franchise, perhaps this could’ve worked. Yes, Harley Quinn being Joker’s daughter is a “WTF!?” moment, but to be fair, Joker killing Bruce’s parents, Ra’s Al Ghul training Bruce Wayne (and don’t get me started on TDKR‘s liberties), and Two-Face killing Robin’s parents aren’t part of the comics but they worked. So perhaps Harley Quinn would’ve worked here. But Batman and Robin was certainly not Gone with the Wind, and the franchise needed to be rebooted. Schumacher’s Batman screenwriter Akiva Goldsman had walked out, and even Joel Schumacher got burned out from the studio’s handling of Batman and Robin. Or in Schumacher’s words….
The only way I would do another Batfilm is if we went back to the basics…It would be nice to take the bigger-is-better concept out of it and just go pure.
Now Joel Schumacher making a Batman: Year One as he wanted, or even a getting the studio to release a dark director’s cut of Batman Forever as he expressed in the Blu-Ray of Batman Forever? That I would’ve paid to see.
#2 X-Men Origins: Magneto
The plot: Magneto tries to survive Auschwitz and learns to come to terms with his powers. Later on he meets a soldier named Xavier who liberates the camp. Later on, Magneto hones his abilities and hunts down those who were responsible for Auschwitz, creating a rift between him and Xavier.
Why it didn’t happen: Most likely because of X-Men: First Class, which made an origin story for Magneto within the first thirty minutes.
Should it have happened?: Absolutely. Anyone who’s seen the first thirty minutes of X-Men: First Class would tell you that they are undoubtedly the most powerful thirty minutes of the film. And if it was going to be The Pianist meets X-Men as in the words of screenwriter Sheldon Turner, it could’ve been one of those comic book films that proves to the critics just how moving they can be. It’s a shame it didn’t get made, but at least X-Men: First Class was pretty good.
The plot: Photographer Peter Parker is subjected by a corporate scientist to radiation bombardment which turns him into a gigantic tarantula-like spider. WTF!? If that’s not enough, the Parker spider battles a race of mutants in the basement laboratory.
Why it didn’t happen: When Stan Lee’s unhappy with your project, you know you’ve royally screwed up. For obvious reasons this didn’t get made.
Should it have happened?: Not only should it not have happened, this should have never even been thought up. There’s been a lot of crazy what ifs, but I don’t think there’s one that’s crazier than this one. When it comes to the biggest, craziest, strangest, and flat-out worst what if, Cannon Films takes the taco.