In 2018, Aquaman’s Jason Momoa announced his departure from the long-anticipated film reboot of recent Supa-Star James O’Barr’s The Crow. Yet as difficult as studios have found getting a remake of the original 1994 comic book off the ground over the past few years, that is just one story in a very long list of comic book movies that never made it to the silver screen. In fact, for every entry in the MCU or offering from Warner Bros. DC that we’ve been fortunate enough to see in recent years, there are a dozen more films which were canned before they even began.
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I’ve waited 8 years to play this dream role. I love you @corinhardy and @sonypictures unfortunately I may have to wait 8 more. Not our team. But I swear I will. James O’Barr sorry to let you down I won’t on the next. This film needs to be set free. And to the fans. Sorry. I can’t play anything but what this film deserves and it needs love. I’m ready when it’s right. Love u Corin aloha j
So why don’t we take a look at just three such superhero projects which very nearly happened…
Superman Lives starring Nicolas Cage
Right now DC fans are left playing the will he/won’t he game in relation to whether Henry Cavill will don the Superman suit again, but long before Cavill became the Man of Steel, Warner Bros. was full steam ahead on making a Superman movie starring none other than Nicolas Cage as Clark Kent. The story behind this 1997 production, based on a script written by Jay and Silent Bob Reboot’s Kevin Smith and directed by the 1989 Batman’s Tim Burton, is one for the ages and eventually even became the focus of the 2015 documentary The Death of Superman Lives.
In a sad turn of events, due to a myriad of pre-production issues and the dismal box office performance of 97’s Batman and Robin, Warner Bros. decided to err on the side of caution and give superhero films a wide berth for a while, finally shelving the project which was almost ready to begin principal photography.
Thankfully, Nic Cage did eventually get his chance to play Superman by lending his voice to 2018’s Teen Titans Go! To the Movies, but we can only imagine that a Nic Cage Superman film directed by Tim Burton and written by Silent Bob himself would have been all kinds of awesome.
Black Panther starring Wesley Snipes
In 2018, the MCU’s adaptation of Black Panther made comic book movie history when it took out the Academy Award for Best Picture, but long before Chadwick Boseman ever said “Wakanda Forever!”, ’90s action hero Wesley Snipes had been approached to tackle the role of T’Challa in his own version of the character. Reports are that Boyz n the Hood director John Singleton was also being eyed to take on directorial duties.
Despite Snipes being more than keen to tackle the film, it, unfortunately, all fell apart mainly due to the available filmmaking technology of the day. Snipes himself has come out to suggest that their ideas for the film were “so far ahead of the game in the thinking, the technology wasn’t there to do what they had already created in the comic book”.
A few short years later, however, Snipes would get his chance to tackle another Marvel hero, Blade.
Justice League: Mortal starring Armie Hammer, D.J. Cotrona, Megan Gale and Adam Brody
Recently Warner Bros. gave die-hard DC fans an enormous gift in announcing that they would finally be releasing the long rumoured Synder cut of 2017’s Justice League. Many fans are already well versed in the story behind Zack Snyder’s departure from production on the film and the changes made by the studio and his replacement Joss Whedon to his original vision. But long before Snyder tackled DC’s greatest team-up, Mad Max director George Miller was teed up to put his own Justice League film together in 2007.
Originally planned to shoot at Fox Studios in Sydney, Miller’s version of the Justice League had cast The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’s Armie Hammer as Batman, From Dusk Til Dawn: The Series’ D.J. Cotrona as Superman, Aussie talent Megan Gale as Wonder Woman, and The O.C.’s Adam Brody as The Flash. Intended to be separate from the Nolan Batman universe also well underway at the time, this first Justice League film was actually planned to kickstart as shared DC cinematic universe ahead of what the MCU eventually managed to start one year later with the first Iron Man.
Unfortunately, a series of delays, starting with the 2007 writers’ strikes and a shift in production location from Australia to Canada, eventually led to Warner Bros. shelving the project entirely in 2008 and putting their focus on finishing off the Nolan Batman trilogy and starting work on the solo Green Lantern film instead.
Thankfully, due to documentary filmmaker Ryan Unicomb who is currently working on a documentary feature dealing with the cancelled production, we are finally getting some good glimpses at the costumes and production design from the project.
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For now these are all I can share. I know there’s MASSIVE interest in the story behind #JusticeLeagueMortal but there is pushback from the studio and most of the creatives involved. It’s understandably a sore point for many involved. We’re collating everything we have to be able to pitch it properly. It may require a kickstarter or something at some stage, or it may not. I’m 5 years into the journey of getting this made and I VERY much appreciate your patience. I know how important this lost chapter is to us all; as movie goers, as comic readers, as pop culture fans. Rest assured we WANT to be able to show you EVERY costume properly. We WANT to show you the Batmobile. We WANT to show you the Fortress of Solitude. We WANT the artists who worked tirelessly for months to get their well deserved due. We’ll continue to do our best. Be well. Stay safe! #SevenFriends #JusticeLeagueMortal #JusticeLeague #WarnerBrothers #PurryburryProductions
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