Superhero Movies You Never Got To See

Superhero Movies You Never Got To See

Back before X-Men, Spider-Man, and the Marvel
Cinematic Universe, the superhero genre was a pretty tough nut to crack. Now Hollywood has mostly gotten it figured
out, but it didn’t always used to be this way. Here are some of the weirder early attempts
we could have gotten. Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man series may look a little
quaint by today’s standards, but when the first film dropped in 2002, it hit like a
minor miracle. The flick enjoyed the biggest opening weekend
ever at the time, validating Raimi’s lifelong dream of bringing a comic book hero to life. His 1990 cult classic Darkman, with a superheroic
character of his own creation, was the result of the director being rebuffed at every turn
in his bid to adapt an existing comic book property such as the Shadow or Batman. After that film’s relative success, Raimi
figured he had some creative capital to spend. When beloved Marvel mastermind Stan Lee died
in late 2018, Raimi shared a story about what could have been with The Hollywood Reporter. “After I did Darkman, Stan Lee called me and
was like, ‘Hey, kid, I liked your movie,’ He took me out to lunch and said we should
work together.” Raimi said he told Lee that he’d like to make
a movie about Thor, who had previously only appeared in live-action form in the TV movie
The Incredible Hulk Returns. Turns out, the people who owned the film rights
to the character weren’t ready for another try just yet. “No!” According to Raimi, “We worked together writing treatments and
took it to Fox and pitched it. And they said, ‘Absolutely no. Comic books don’t make good movies.’ This was in 1991.” It would take Raimi another eight years to
land the gig of his dreams, and it’s safe to say that he acquitted himself pretty well. “‘Nuff said.” As well-received as Sam Raimi’s first two
Spider-Man films were, 2007’s Spider-Man 3… wasn’t. Particularly problematic was the plotline
of Eddie Brock and the famous Venom symbiote, which Raimi didn’t even want to include in
the movie to begin with. But while the Venom storyline may have felt
pretty tacked-on, the movie as a whole does have its moments. “How’s the pie?” “So good.” Topher Grace’s take on the Parker-hating Brock
was actually pretty good — the problem was the character of the Venom symbiote itself. “I like being bad. It makes me happy.” Despite the negative reception to Venom’s
live-action debut, Sony still had plans to develop a spin-off starring Grace’s version
of the character. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the studio
was inspired to move forward with a more villainous sort of anti-hero project after the rapturous
reception to Heath Ledger’s Joker in 2008’s The Dark Knight. Multiple script drafts were written for the
Venom spinoff project, but the whole plan went out the window when Sony decided to reboot
the Spider-Man franchise and start over with the Amazing Spider-Man series. Who knows what Grace would have done with
a whole movie of his own to work with — especially since he’s since expressed confusion about
why he was ever cast for the role in the first place. 2008’s Iron Man was the film that launched
the highest-grossing franchise in history, but Tony Stark’s live-action debut could have
easily looked a lot different. By the time Marvel Studios was formed in 2005,
it had reacquired the rights to the character. But those rights had spent years being passed
around from Fox to Universal to New Line, with names attached to the project including
Stuart Gordon, Quentin Tarantino, and even The Iron Giant screenwriter Tim McCanlies,
presumably just because of the word “iron”. In 2004, a script from the creators of the
Smallville TV series landed in the lap of David Hayter, whose writing credits include
the screenplays of the first two X-Men movies. Hayter set about reworking the screenplay,
with contributions that included making a villain out of Tony’s father Howard Stark. Hayter’s version went so far as to have the
character align himself with Justin Hammer to become none other than… War Machine. “Your dad!” Then-rights holder New Line loved Hayter’s
version, and set the project up with an unconventional choice of director: Nick Cassavetes, whose
biggest success to that point was the romantic drama The Notebook. Cassavetes was formally announced to be helming
the flick in 2004, with New Line aiming for a summer 2006 release. The studio had reason to be optimistic; they
had spun box office gold from a Marvel property with the Blade franchise, and thanks in part
to Hayter’s X-Men flicks, superhero movies had recently become surprisingly viable. But the project languished in development
long enough for Marvel to get Tony Stark’s rights back in 2005 — and the rest is history. Luke Cage, aka Harlem’s own invincible Power
Man, wasn’t the first black hero in comics, or even in Marvel lore. But he immediately earned a high profile by
virtue of a colorful costume, a formidable power set, and an awesome catchphrase. “Sweet Christmas.” His inspired pairing with superpowered martial
artist Iron Fist sold a lot of books in the ’70s, but before Mike Colter put his live-action
stamp on the character with a self-titled Netflix series, only one honest attempt had
been made to bring the human wrecking ball to the screen. In 2003, Columbia Pictures optioned the character
for a film adaptation, hiring scribe Ben Ramsey to pen a screenplay. Attached to helm the project was John Singleton,
whose incendiary films Boyz n the Hood and Higher Learning had established him as a talented
director capable of crafting masterful black-centric stories that were accessible to a wide audience. His dream casting: Tyrese Gibson as Cage and
Terrence Howard as the villain Diamondback. The project eventually withered on the vine,
with the rights reverting to Marvel in 2013. But before they did, an even more interesting
name was floated for the title role: Idris Elba, who told the Huffington Post in 2013
that he had briefly considered taking on the part. The Flash is bound to get his big-screen due
with a solo movie any day now, but for the moment, the Scarlet Speedster is mostly enjoying
a high profile thanks to his well-received live-action series in the CW’s Arrowverse. Warner Brothers has been attempting to get
some kind of version of a Flash movie off the blocks since at least 2004. It was around that time that audiences came
close to getting a version written, produced, and directed by Batman Begins screenwriter
David S. Goyer. At the time, Goyer called the Flash his favorite
of all of the DC properties, and shared his plans to use the Wally West version of the
character, instead of Barry Allen. Goyer said his script was close in tone to
the Sam Raimi Spider-Man series, and that he felt Ryan Reynolds would be perfect for
the role. But the project was cut short by creative
differences. By early 2007, Goyer had departed the project,
saying in one interview, “The studio is heading off in a completely
different direction. I expect you’ll hear of some new developments
on that front shortly.” The reality is: not so much. But considering how many writers and directors
the Flashpoint movie has gone through over the years, it’s not for lack of trying. Danny Rand, the immortal Iron Fist, has yet
to get his shot at a big screen adaptation — and his ill-fated small screen outing,
which limped through two very poorly-received seasons on Netflix, probably never should
have happened. “I’m the Immortal Iron Fist.” “Come again?” “Sworn protector of K’un Lun?” “What are you on, lithium?” But in 2000, Artisan Entertainment, which
at the time held the rights to a number of Marvel characters, was dead-set on producing
a feature vehicle for the relatively little-known character, and the project made a surprising
amount of headway before biting the dust. Writer John Turman, who would go on to pen
Ang Lee’s Hulk, as well as an unproduced screenplay based on the Silver Surfer, was hired to write
the script, and Artisan even got far enough into development to cast their lead. Scottish martial artist Ray Park officially
signed on to portray Rand in late 2000, and principal photography was slated to begin
early the following year. If you don’t know him by name, you’ve still
definitely seen his face, at least underneath a lot of scary makeup. The actor displayed a formidable screen presence
in the role of Darth Maul in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, and also made waves
in X-Men as the flexible and grotesque Toad. But though Park was still talking about the
project as late as 2004, it simply failed to materialize. The rights eventually reverted back to Marvel
Studios, which briefly kicked around the idea of an Iron Fist feature in 2010 before the
fateful decision was made to go the serial route instead. “Who is your master?” “I serve only myself.” “Prepare to disappoint your master.” 2018’s Black Panther was the highest-grossing
film of that year and a bona fide cultural phenomenon. Few people predicted the movie’s incredible
success — except perhaps Wesley Snipes, who had envisioned exactly that scenario over
25 years before. In 1992, the red-hot star was dead-set on
making Black Panther his next starring vehicle. In a 2018 conversation with The Hollywood
Reporter, Snipes said, “Black Panther spoke to me because he was
noble, and he was the antithesis of the stereotypes presented and portrayed about Africans, African
history and the great kingdoms of Africa. It had cultural significance, social significance. It was something that the black community
and the white community hadn’t seen before.” Snipes tried in vain to find the right pairing
of writer and director for the project — a task made even more difficult by the fact
that virtually nobody understood the character. An ill-fated meeting with director John Singleton
illustrated that in hilarious fashion, as Snipes explained to THR. “John was like, ‘Nah! Hah! Hah! See, he’s got the spirit of the Black Panther,
but he is trying to get his son to join the [Black Panther] organization. And he and his son have a problem, and they
have some strife because he is trying to be politically correct and his son wants to be
a knucklehead.'” “He’s not a Wakandan.” On top of people not understanding the then-obscure
superhero, CGI limitations of the time were also a factor, as the star was intent on rendering
Wakanda in much the same way as Ryan Coogler eventually did. The project lost steam, but Snipes learned
from the failure. Instead, he moved onto a different Marvel
Comics project: Blade. As Snipes recalled, “I thought, hey, we can’t do the King of Wakanda
and the Vibranium and the hidden kingdom in Africa, let’s do a black vampire.” That groundbreaking project came together
wonderfully in 1998, and became one of Snipes’ signature roles. “Some motherf—ers are always trying to ice
skate uphill.” Many attempts were made to bring the X-Men
to the big screen before the 2000 adaptation. Perhaps the closest anyone came to actually
getting it done was in 1990, when Stan Lee and Marvel writer Chris Claremont pitched
an X-Men feature to James Cameron and his then-wife, director Kathryn Bigelow. Cameron agreed to produce the flick, with
Bigelow set to direct, and a screenplay was commissioned from Gary Goldman, the writer
behind Big Trouble in Little China and Total Recall. That script, titled Wolverine and the X-Men,
would have seen Wolverine recruiting Kitty Pryde for Charles Xavier’s team. The story revolved around the group coming
into conflict with a presidential candidate named Thomas Prince who, oddly enough, had
the powers of Magneto. Probably a coincidence. “Well, it’s complicated.” Cameron’s choice for the part of Wolverine
was actually pretty inspired: Bob Hoskins. While Hoskins is far from the huge, jacked
man who eventually would come to define the role on screen, it could easily be argued
that the stocky Who Framed Roger Rabbit star had a more comics-accurate look. According to Claremont, the project went nowhere
largely because Cameron was more interested in another Marvel property: Spider-Man, for
which he had a very detailed, and deeply strange script. Of course, the director’s Marvel dreams went
unfulfilled, but things still ended up working out for him just fine. As hard as it is to believe, famous schlockmeisters
Cannon Films briefly acquired the rights to Spider-Man in the ’80s, when Don Kopaloff
— Marvel’s film agent at the time — literally couldn’t get any other studios to bite. Cannon had big plans for their movie, eyeing
Tom Cruise for the title role, Bob Hoskins for the part of Doctor Octopus, and Texas
Chain Saw Massacre filmmaker Tobe Hooper for the director’s chair. When Hooper passed, they tapped Joseph Zito,
whose most successful previous credit had been Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter — which
is actually one of the better Friday the 13th movies, though nowhere near the final one. Eventually, they cast stuntman Scott Leva
in the title role, and produced a teaser that was little more than a proof-of-concept reel. Nowhere near able to actually make the movie
yet, the studio hoped to use the teaser as an investor magnet to acquire funds to make
the actual film. When investors failed to kick down the door,
producers slashed the film’s budget in half, prompting Zito to depart. The subsequent failure of Cannon’s notoriously
cheap-looking Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, as well as the expense of producing the He-Man
movie Masters of the Universe, ended up sinking the company. Cannon’s Spider-Man slipped into limbo — perhaps
the biggest bullet the wall-crawler ever dodged. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Looper videos about your favorite
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  1. Sam Raimi: let us make a Thor movie .
    Hollywood: fuck this.
    Wesley Snipes: let us make a Black Panther movie .
    Hollywood: WHO?.
    Me: WHY??????!!!!!!.

  2. Who in the hell didnt think Black Panther was going to do well? The Marvel universe was well established to guarantee they could make a movie of a super hero struggling to take a dump on a toilet for 2 hours and it would make a billion dollars. Still pushing these BS narratives.

  3. Sorry, disagree about iron fist. While lower key than other shows of the same genre, Iron Fist is an excellent series. Definitely worth a watch!

  4. That guy is a bad actor, iron fist is too 80s to make a meaningful impact, the lines are lame the show suck and the actor is bad, idk how they made it past the pilot

  5. The Flash movie sounds a bit like the Unmade Flash Video game from Brash Entertainment and Bottle Rocket. They had planned a Wally West central Flash game that would have also had Ryan Reynolds as Wally and would have seen him battling many iconic Flash villains such as Captain Cold, Tar Pit, Weather Wizard, The Trickster, Murmur and the Reverse Flash. Ultimately, it was never completed as Brash went bust before completion.
    Also, an honourable mention; Sam Raimi's Spider-man 4. When Spider-man 3 didn't perform as well as expected, Raimi suspected his next film may be his last go at the character, so wanted to end on a high note. His planned final installment would've had Tobey Maguire's Spider-man facing off against the Vulture (who was set to be played by Ben Kingsley/John Malkovich), along with having Bruce Campbell's character revealed to be Quentin Beck (Mysterio) and Felicia Hardy (played by Anne Hathaway) becoming Vultress. However, when the studio began pushing for him to include The Lizard, he said "Clearly we want to make two different movies. I can't. Go ahead with your planned reboot."

  6. Out of all of these the only one I’m even remotely upset about is Ray Park as iron fist. That would have been ridiculously awesome.

    The rest I’m glad didn’t happen .especially the Sam Reimi garbage.

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