Comic Book Films That Never Got Made

Comic book movies are all the rage these days, with nearly 10 being released each year. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has set the standard, bringing in major stars such as Anthony Hopkins, Robert Redford, Jeff Goldblum, and many more in either recurring or single-movie roles. Warner Bros. and Fox have had their share of success in this area, as well.

But not every comic book movie makes it to the big screen. So often over the last few decades, movies have been developed, written, and even cast before eventually being scrapped for one reason or another. We took a look back at several comic book movies that never saw the light of day. For many of them, that was probably for the best.

1. Green Lantern starring Jack Black

Jack Black

Jack Black came close to portraying Green Lantern. | HBO

Back in 2004, New Line Cinema had an idea for a Green Lantern movie. This was no Ryan Reynolds flop, however. This was an action-comedy set to star Tenacious D frontman Jack Black. The plot centered around Black, an overweight furniture salesman, finding the ring and using it in all sorts of hilarious and weird ways.

Essentially, New Line wanted to create a Green Lantern answer to The Mask. Fans weren’t thrilled with the idea, and the movie was eventually scrapped.

Next: That famous Nicolas Cage movie

2. Nicolas Cage in Superman Lives

Nicolas Cage holds up his hand

Nicolas Cage was famously almost Superman. | Lucy Nicholson/AFP/Getty Images

One of the most infamous “almost” movies in history is Superman Lives, which was written by Kevin Smith and would’ve starred Nicolas Cage as the Man of Steel. That’s right, Nick Cage as Superman. There are even pictures of the actor wearing the costume.

Fortunately, this one also fell apart. The film was set to go ahead with Smith’s script, but director Tim Burton came in and tried to take it another direction. Eventually, both Burton and Cage dropped out, and Superman Lives never came to life.

Next: A different type of Catwoman

3. Catwoman spin-off

Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns

Michelle Pfeiffer almost returned to her role as Catwoman. | Warner Bros.

Burton has another superhero movie that was never made, an attempt to dig in on Michelle Pfeiffer’s performance as Catwoman. The story would’ve picked up shortly after the end of Batman Returns, which was a major critical success.

However, this wasn’t going to be dark and brooding like Burton’s first two Batman films. Instead, the script had Pfeiffer going to a spa that was run by superheroes and supervillains. Huh?

Next: A follow-up to Batman & Robin

4. Batman: Triumphant

Val Kilmer in Batman Forever

Val Kilmer’s run as Batman was short-lived and killed the potential for a sequel. | Warner Bros.

After Burton’s Batman Returns, it was director Joel Schumacher that took the call to make Batman Forever. The movie kept many of the supporting cast, but replaced Michael Keaton with Val Kilmer as the dark knight. Batman Forever was a somewhat lukewarm movie, despite an all-star cast that boasted Nicole Kidman, Tommy Lee Jones, and Jim Carrey.

But Schumacher’s second movie, Batman & Robin, was a massive dumpster fire. Schumacher was supposed to do a third movie, titled Batman: Triumphant, in which Nicolas Cage, Jeff Goldblum, and Steve Buscemi had been rumored to be playing Scarecrow at one time. But the awful reception to Batman & Robin stopped that one dead in its tracks.

Next: The original Justice League movie

5. Justice League: Mortal

Justice League

A very different Justice League movie was in the works. | Warner Bros.

Prior to 2017’s Justice League, there was a different movie that had been planned less than 10 years prior. Justice League: Mortal was WB’s idea to capitalize on The Dark Knight’s popularity back in 2009. Talia al Ghul was scheduled to be the villain, with lesser-known George Miller set to direct.

For whatever reason, this one never came to fruition. We’ll never know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but without Heath Ledger’s Joker — the best thing about The Dark Knight — we’re guessing it’s a good thing.

Next: Daredevil on the big screen, minus Affleck

6. Daredevil

Ben Affleck as Matt Murdock in Daredevil, crouching wearing a red suit surrounded by flames

Would the unmade Daredevil have been better than this mess? | Marvel

Marvel has an extremely successful version of Daredevil, now in production on its third season and accessible on Netflix. But in between the current Daredevil series and 2003’s awful Ben Affleck Daredevil, there was supposed to be another movie adaptation.

This was back in 2012 when Fox Studios still owned the rights. Director Joe Carnahan even put together a sizzle reel. But executives weren’t so keen on making such a dark Daredevil movie. Eventually, Fox lost the rights to the character, and we ended up with the Netflix version.

Next: Sam Raimi returns for another Spider-Man.

7. Spider-Man 4

Spider-Man

Spider-Man 3 sank the franchise. | Marvel Entertainment

Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man trilogy pales in comparison with Marvel’s efforts with Tom Holland in Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming, but the first two Spider-Man movies were extremely successful. Starring Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, a young James Franco, and Willem Dafoe as the Green Goblin, fans were energized by the two films. But Spider-Man 3 was a dud, a too-long entry featuring both Thomas Haden Church as Sandman and the poorly-chosen Topher Grace as Venom.

Even still, Raimi was set to put together Spider-Man 4. Maguire and Dunst were on board, as well as rumored villains to be played by Dylan Baker, John Malkovich, and Anne Hathaway. But Raimi couldn’t come to an agreement on a script, and the movie never got off the ground.

Next: Quentin Tarantino almost takes on this Marvel hero. 

8. Luke Cage

Mike Colter looking tough in Luke Cage poster art

Mike Colter is our Luke Cage through and through. | Netflix

Another Marvel staple on Netflix, Luke Cage just recently finished up its first season, which was followed by the title character’s appearance in The Defenders. Both came with mixed reviews. But Cage very nearly appeared on the big screen in the last few decades — twice.

First, Quentin Tarantino was interested in adapting a Luke Cage movie, but there were disagreements on casting. He ended up doing Pulp Fiction instead, and Luke Cage was forgotten. Years later, another version was set to star Tyrese Gibson, but also never got off the ground.

Next: Superman Returns … again.

9. Superman Returns 2

Brandon Routh in Superman Returns

Superman Returns was another pre-DCEU flop. | Warner Bros.

2006’s Superman Returns was a major flop, a movie that played like a sequel to a first film that didn’t exist. Not that most people don’t know Superman’s story by now, but Superman Returns really went on the assumption that viewers already knew everything that they needed.

There was a sequel in the development stages at the time the movie hit theaters, with Brandon Routh returning as Superman, Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor, and Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane. But the massive disappointment of Superman Returns essentially killed any chance the sequel ever might’ve had.

Next: Tom Cruise “playing” a conceited billionaire

10. Tom Cruise’s Iron Man

Tom Cruise at the premiere of Rock of Ages in 2012

Tom Cruise could have been Iron Man, if you can believe it. | Stuart Wilson/Getty Images

Can you imagine anyone but Robert Downey Jr. playing Iron Man? It very nearly happened on the big screen a decade before Downey’s Iron Man, and it would’ve starred Tom Cruise. The actor was so enamored with the idea of playing the billionaire/superhero that he actually was going to co-produce the movie.

Cruise’s movie went into development, but eventually, the actor chose to leave the project due to concerns over the script. That left the door open for Marvel to come in with their Downey version just a few years later, basically launching the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe as we now know it.

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