Unreleased or abandoned projects fascinate me. Whether they’re TV shows that never were, video games lost to development hell, or movies where Nicolas Cage plays Superman, I need to know more. A quick note: we realize there are crap tons of unreleased/unfinished super hero movies, but we picked ones that caught our eye from the 80s/90s ‘cause that’s how we do.
7 – Superman Lives
(Photo Courtesy: Blastr)
One of the most famous Superman films that never was would be Superman Lives. This may be best known for the curious casting of Superactor Nicolas Cage as Superman. Kevin Smith pitched the outline in 1996 and then wrote it, even when producer Jon Peters demanded a showdown between Superman and a giant spider. Peters also requested Braniac fighting polar bears, giving Lex Luthor a space dog, and transforming Braniac’s robot assistant L-Ron into “a gay R2-D2 with attitude” according to Wikipedia which is always right. I think the point of this paragraph is that Peters needs to be committed. On the other hand, Nicolas Cage battling a giant spider? Peters may have been ahead of his time. We need this in our lives! Cage must have been down with it because he stuck by through all sorts of pre-production woes until finally calling in quits in 2000. Warner Bros. reportedly spent more than $30 million on the project before officially announcing time of death.
A documentary about Superman Lives’ demise (The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened?). This is slated for an August 2014 release… as long as it doesn’t have to encounter Jon Peters.
6 – The Batman (Tom Mankiewicz)
There were lots of Batman movies in the works that were later abandoned. Unfortunately Batman Forever and Batman & Robin were not included in that, but I digress. Tim Burton’s pair of Batman films introduced a new generation to the superhero in 1989. Prior to that, Tom Mankiewicz (who had penned three James Bond films) wrote a Batman script in 1983. Mankiewicz’s The Batman was an origin story, but also included Robin, the Joker, and Rupert Thorne, with Silver St. Cloud as Batman’s love interest. The film was slated for a 1985 release, but as we know, that never happened.
5 – Spider-Man (James Cameron)
If you’ve been a reader on this site for any amount of time, you may have already picked up on my obsession with The Terminator. So when I found out that James Cameron was attached to a Spider-Man movie I was heartbroken. I could have finally liked Spider-Man! Cameron’s version would have come out sometime after 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgement Day, and focused on Spider-Man’s battles with Sandman and Electro. Due to legal woes and bankruptcy of the company that owned Spider-Man’s film rights, production came to a halt.
It may have all been for the best, however. Cracked shows a dramatization based on the actual dialogue from Cameron’s “scriptment”. Turns out he should just stick to Terminator films.
If Cameron’s Spider-Man ties weren’t enough to sad up your day, it’s also reported that he was attached to producing an X-Men movie in the 90s as well.
4 – Batman 3 (Tim Burton)
Tim Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns were set to be part of a trilogy with the cleverly named Batman 3 rounding out the series. Michael Keaton was set to reprise his role as Batman and Marlon Wayans as Robin. Batman 3 would have featured the Riddler, Harvey Dent, Chase Meridian (created for the film and a love interested for old Brucey), Scarecrow, Mad Hatter, and possibly Catwoman. The most interesting aspect of the film had to do with Robin. Wayans was signed on, but there were rumors that the character would have been recast as female and portrayed by Winona Ryder. Unfortunately, Warner Bros. wasn’t into the dark Batman thing anymore and wanted something much more campy. And so the Joel Schumacher films began.
3 – The She-Hulk
Taking a break from the male centric superhero movies, Marvel Comics approached Brigitte Nielsen to star in either a She-Hulk film or television pilot in 1991. Nielsen posed for photos dressed as She-Hulk, but that’s about as far as it got. It’s unknown if a script or anything else besides the series of photos Nielsen posed for were in the works.
2 – Catwoman (Tim Burton)
Even when directors do an amazing job, things slide in to development hell. After Batman Returns was released, Tim Burton signed on for two more Batman movies. One was Batman 3 and the other was a Catwoman film starring Michelle Pfeiffer. The script was written and handed in the day Batman Forever was released. Of course, the dark style of Burton’s Batman films versus the kitschy Schumacher versions didn’t exactly jive and the project kept getting pushed off. A Catwoman film was eventually released, but we don’t speak of it. Ever.
1 – The Fantastic Four (1994)
The Fantastic Four was an origin film and focused on their first battle with Doctor Doom. After its cancellation, rumors cropped up that the film was never intended to be released and was made simply so producer Bernd Eichinger could retain rights to the characters. Stan Lee confirmed as much in 2005 when he explained that the movie was never supposed to be shown to anyone and that even the cast and crew of the film were unaware of this. Eichinger denies this, but it’s more fun to believe Stan Lee because seriously wtf who does that? Eichinger went on to do 2005’s Fantastic Four and 2007’s Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver surfer. Maybe there was something sinister brewing after all.