Before the Marvel Cinematic Universe really took off and cemented itself as the staple of the superhero genre, we were almost subjected to a number of interesting superhero projects that may or may not have changed how the MCU went. From Nicholas Cage’s infamous Superman to James Cameron’s sex-led Spiderman, below are ten superhero movies that were cancelled before we got the chance to see them.
1. Superman Lives (Tim Burton and Nicholas Cage)
It’s common knowledge that Tim Burton is no stranger to the superhero genre. After his success with Batman, Burton set his sights on Superman. Although it’s not exactly news at this point, everything you could ever want to know about this project can be found in documentary The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened? Based off of The Death of Superman comic arc and with Nicholas Cage set to star, we can only dream of how this movie would’ve ended up.
2. The Avengers (Marvel Cinematic Universe)
We all know that Iron Man was the big hit Marvel Studios needed to eventually pave the way towards the Avengers. However, before the casting of Tom Holland and even before Andrew Garfield, MCU producer Kevin Feige stated his original intentions. With Iron Man‘s post credits scene, Feige’s build towards the Avengers first featured nods to the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man and the X-Men led by Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. However, with both Spider-Man and the mutants belonging to different studios, it was deemed unusable. Oh, how times have changed…
3. The Green Arrow (David S. Goyer)
This may have the most potential of all the cancelled superhero movies. A prison break movie starring the Green Arrow and a whole host of DC supervillains sounds like a lot of fun. With David S. Goyer at the helm, the movie would’ve brought Oliver Queen into the mainstream a few years before Arrow. Although it’s unclear whether it was to be a solo movie or a set-up for future instalments, the idea could’ve worked either way.
4. Luke Cage (Quentin Tarantino)
Quentin Tarantino has always been an avid fan of comic books. So much so that, way back after the success of Reservoir Dogs, Tarantino had a Luke Cage movie on his mind. He had intended to cast Laurence Fishburne in the lead, but many people weren’t happy with the choice. Wesley Snipes was the sought-after option and soon after, he would be cast as Blade. Tarantino’s version of Luke Cage, however, vanished into non-existence.
5. Catwoman (Tim Burton and Michelle Pffeifer)
Another project that would’ve seen Tim Burton at the helm, was his solo Catwoman movie. Serving as a continuation of Michelle Pffeifer’s iteration of the character from Batman Returns, the project was unlucky enough to be on the cards during the release of Batman Forever. After that, Burton’s Catwoman was never to be heard from again.
6. X-Men Origins: Magneto (Ian McKellen)
If X-Men Origins: Wolverine had been successful, an origin tale of Magneto was scheduled to be the next instalment. Ian McKellen would’ve reprised his role from the series and it would’ve featured, the now common, de-aging technology. Many strands of this origin story were later picked up and used in X-Men: First Class, so this is one movie we kind of got to see some of anyway.
7. Superman Flyby (JJ Abrams)
Superman Returns crushed the production of Superman Flyby back in the early 2000s. There were even going to be original villains created especially for the movie. With JJ Abrams working on the film and with an even younger Henry Cavill featuring on screen tests, Flyby may actually have been a successful reboot of the character. But at least we got Cavill a decade later in Man of Steel.
8. Spider-Man (James Cameron and Leonardo DiCaprio)
Even though we’ve now had our fair share of Spider-Man adaptations, we could’ve lived with just this one more. James Cameron’s Spider-Man is most notorious for being as far from a Spider-Man movie, as possible. Titanic breakout star Leonardo DiCaprio was set to portray our hero Peter Parker. The villains who were going to feature were played by Cameron’s regulars. The list included Sandman (Michael Biehn), Electro (Lance Henriksen) and Doc Ock (Arnold Schwarzenegger). It remains controversial with elements including a sex scene on the Brooklyn Bridge between Peter and Mary Jane.
9. Batman vs Superman (Akiva Goldsman)
Although we got Zack Snyder’s vision of this storyline quite recently, it wasn’t the first time the idea of Batman v Superman was hanging around Hollywood. Yet, the plot remained fairly similar. It featured an older Batman who was dealing with the loss of all his companions. On the other hand, Superman was going through a tough divorce. As well as this, evil mastermind and villain, Lex Luthor was set to make the two fight with some convoluted plot. Actors on the list to play either of the two superhero leads include Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, James Franco, Paul Walker, Josh Harnett, Jude Law and, ironically, Christian Bale. Cancelled in favour of a focus on standalone superhero movies, this film was set to be a uniquely super dark adaptation of the comic arc.
10. Doctor Strange (Guillermo del Toro and Neil Gaiman)
Putting Guillermo del Toro and Doctor Strange together seems almost like a match made in heaven. And that was almost the case. As well as this, fantasy legend Neil Gaiman was onboard to write the screenplay, too. Even though Del Toro had the whole story mapped out, sadly no studio was interested in the project. Unfortunately for them, the superhero bug hit a few years later and we missed out on what could’ve been the most intriguing film on this list.