Marvel Studios has dominated the box office for more than ten years by consistently churning out blockbuster after blockbuster. However, little did fans know that the studio had several ambitious plans that were ultimately scrapped for a variety of reasons. Given the popularity of Marvel films, it might be difficult to remember every project that is a success; there are countless others that have either never been announced, failed miserably, or fizzled out.
However, the MCU and its future were not the only factors that led to the cancellation of Marvel movies; in many cases, negative critical reception also played a significant role.
Here is a list of all the Marvel films that were shelved but could have ignited the box office.
1. Hulk 2
Eric Bana played the Hulk in 2003, long before Mark Ruffalo or even Edward Norton played the legendary Bruce Banner. Hulk actually had the best possible start for a new superhero series, as Universal’s hugely successful Hulk film made an impressive $245 million worldwide, more than its production budget.
As a result, Hulk 2 was an eagerly anticipated film that was supposed to be released as early as 2005. However, a series of pre-production setbacks put an end to Hulk 2′s seemingly unstoppable progress.
2. Spider-Man 4
Given the cult status Sam Raimi‘s trilogy has since acquired, Spider-Man 4‘s eventual cancellation is probably the most upsetting of all the Marvel films on this list.
Although there were many intriguing potential antagonists, the plans for Spider-Man 4 were abandoned in January 2010 as a result of Raimi’s departure from the project. The director reportedly ended his participation due to his doubt that he could meet the planned May 6, 2011 release date while at the same time upholding the film creatively.
3. X-Men Origins: Magneto
The X-Men Origins concept was intended to be developed beyond Wolverine’s film. Magneto, the main antagonist of the series, was supposed to have a stand-alone prequel explaining how he came to be a famous villain, but the film was never made.
Chris Claremont, the creator of the X-Men comic book series, wanted to revitalize Magneto in the 1980s so that he would be “a more credible adversary, but also a more credible person.” He had the following brilliant idea for Magneto (via Vulture):
“Magneto had to have come to adolescence, and possibly come of age, in the Second World War. And he certainly looked European. And what would have given him such an extreme attitude toward mutant-human relations? […] The next corollary was, ‘Oh. The Holocaust’.”
But canceling the film is unfortunate because ideas for retelling the histories of other important X-Men characters seem genuinely captivating.
4. The Amazing Spider-Man 3
To compete with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Sony had originally planned for the movie to introduce a large-scale film universe centered around Spider-Man. In 2013, Sony revealed a third The Amazing Spider-Man movie with a release date of June 10, 2016, and a fourth movie with a release date of May 4, 2018.
Due to Marvel allegedly objecting to some of the terms of the proposed agreement, including Sony’s continued ownership of the film rights, both negotiations were said to have fallen through.
One of the best genre-defying superhero films ever made, Logan, became a worldwide phenomenon. Hugh Jackman’s film also featured Dafne Keen as X-23, a character made from Logan’s DNA.
Fans clamored for more of Keen after her unexpectedly endearing portrayal of the character. A spin-off movie was said to have been under consideration, but it was generally agreed that the Disney-Fox deal probably put an end to the project.
6. Silver & Black
The Sony film Silver & Black, which centers on Spider-Man villains, Black Cat and Silver Sable, began development in 2017. The now-canceled film was slated to be directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood and was supposed to be a part of Sony’s Spider-Man Universe. By the end of 2018, however, script problems had “indefinitely” postponed the movie, and then completely scrapped.
7. Ghost Rider 3
When Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance was released, directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor stated that they were set up for an immediate third installment, once again starring Nicolas Cage. Although Marvel Studios regained ownership of the film rights in 2013, there were no immediate plans to produce another Ghost Rider movie.
You would be excused if you had not seen (or even remembered) the ABC television program Inhumans, which was so unpopular that it was canceled after only one season, despite the fact that it was set in the MCU.
However, most fans agree that a film adaptation of the story would have been a much better way to introduce the characters to the franchise. Marvel eventually decided it would be less risky to do a television series instead, and the result was sadly underwhelming.
Rupert Wyatt, Doug Liman, and Gore Verbinski had all been attached as directors at various points over the years, and Gambit’s release date had also been delayed multiple times. Originally set for release on March 13, 2020, Gambit has been delayed as a result of Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox. After taking over, Disney formally terminated the project in May 2019.
10. Sinister Six
Fans knew something very exciting was coming when the Sinister Six, a group of Spider-Man’s most formidable foes, were alluded to in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
A Sinister Six film by Drew Goddard was one of Sony’s grand plans for their interconnected universe. But because of Andrew Garfield’s film’s underwhelming performance in his second turn as Spider-Man and the studio’s radical shift in tactics, the film never really took off.
Although these canceled Marvel films sadly were never released on film, we can not help but wonder about the potential that was overlooked.