DC has had a long list of live action films that entered production, but never managed to make it off the ground. Ambitious films with strange or sometimes unique ideas that studios decided to pass up. However, something that continues to thrive for DC Comics are their animated films. Since they have managed to dominate the animated film landscape with hits like Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, Batman: Under the Red Hood and Justice League Dark: Apokolips War. Since they seem to know what they are doing with their animation department, what if we were able to see some of these other cancelled live-action films adapted into animated films? Try to back some of the actors that were already attached to the projects or even some of the directors and writers to make their vision of these DC characters.
Before the failure of Batman & Robin, Warner Brothers still had plans for a fifth installment in their Batman films. The studio began planning for the next film before Batman & Robin even hit theaters, with Joel Schumacher set to return as director and Mark Protosevich to write a script. However, due to an oversized budget and financial failure of the last Batman film the studio decided to scrap the project. And while we can all agree how much we hated Schumacher’s last Batman installment, the story they came up with seems to have some interesting concepts. Batman Unchained would have introduced the Scarecrow (possibly played by Nicholas Cage) and Harley Quinn (possibly played by Courtney Love) but rewritten to be the daughter of Joker who seeks revenge on Batman for the death of her father.
During a confrontation with Scarecrow, Crane would have sprayed Batman with his fear toxins and led to Bruce Wayne experiencing hallucinations throughout the film. Warner Brothers were interested in bringing back Jim Carrey as The Riddler, Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face, Danny Devito as The Penguin, Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman and Jack Nicholson as the Joker to hunt Batman as part of his hallucinations. The film would have also featured the return of Chris O’Donnell as Dick Grayson/Robin, Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl/Barbara Wilson and Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth with the possibility of Batman being re-casted once again with Kurt Russell as a candidate. While this cast seems large and difficult to bring together for a live-action film, it could very much be used for an animated movie. I understand many of the cast from Batman & Robin want nothing further to do with that film, but perhaps they might be open to an animated adaptation.
Tim Burton’s Catwoman
Another film in the Batman film series, would have brought back Tim Burton to direct a solo Catwoman with the return of Michelle Pfeiffer as Selina Kyle. The script was written by Daniel Waters and was submitted to Warner Brothers the same day as the release of Batman Forever. However, Waters had written a much darker script than even Batman Returns and since Batman Forever was a big success, they wanted to continue the trend of lighter Batman films.
The film would have picked up where Batman Returns left off, with Selina Kyle experiencing amnesia after she was shot by Max Shreck. Selina would relocate to a city called Oasisburg, but the city would be infested with costumed heroes that would interact with Selina as she started to get her memory back as Catwoman. Many variables caused this film to never begin production, including Pfeiffer’s dedication as a new mother, Burton’s uncertainty about the film and Warner Brothers new direction with the Batman series. Regardless the film continue to try to get traction with Ashley Judd replacing Pfeiffer, but ended up becoming the critically panned 2004 Catwoman film with Halle Berry as the title character.
However, many are still big fans of Burton’s films and Pfeiffer’s portrayal as Catwoman. And since we never quite got any closure to what happened with Selina Kyle, this could make for an incredible opportunity to adapt Water script into an animated film. Pfeiffer can reprise her role as Catwoman, with Burton returning as either director or producer. With a script already developed they could easily create a film with it, even potentially using Burton’s unique art style to animate the movie.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League Sequels
While no official script has been made for these films, there is still a lot of talk for Zack Snyder’s vision of his Justice League trilogy. While they would need to pick up where Zack Snyder’s Justice League leaves off when it is revealed in 2021, there were originally two more films planned after the release of Justice League. However, due to the poor reception of the film the planned sequels were scrapped in favor of a solo Batman film.
Originally at the end of the first film, the league would have had a brief glimpse of Darkseid which would set up the Lord of Apokolips as the main antagonist for the second and third film. For the second movie, the League would reunite with multiple Green Lanterns to take on Darkseid as he begins his invasion of Earth. Much of what was referenced in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice would have tied into the events of the second installment, including the “Knightmare” sequence Bruce Wayne experienced. In the end, the Dark God would defeat the League and claim Batmans life.
The third installment would feature a defeated and desperate Justice League, as they try to find the strength to reassemble and make one final attempt to defeat Darkseid. Much of the idea behind this trilogy was somewhat adapted in 2020’s Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, where the League are defeated and forming to make a final attack against Darkseid. However, if Warner Brothers decides not to move forward with Snyder’s trilogy after his cut of Justice League comes out, perhaps there is potential for the cast to come together and give us a true version of Snyder’s films with animation.
Justice League Mortal
Before DC decided to launch their collection of films beginning with Man of Steel, there was the possibility of a Justice League film. There was never an official script or story for what this film would be about, except it would be an adaptation of JLA: Tower of Babel and Superman: Sacrifice. Warner Brothers picked Mad Max director George Miller was set to direct the film with a young new cast as the League. Armie Hammer as Batman, D.J. Cotrona as Superman, Adam Brody as Flash, Santiago Cabrera as Aquaman, Megan Gale as Wonder Woman, Hugh Keays-Byrne as Martian Manhunter, and Common as Jon Stewart/Green Lantern with Teresa Palmer casted as Talia Al Ghul and Jay Baruchel as Maxwell Lord.
In 2007, the studio was preparing the begin production of the film but felt that the script still needed many of its kinks worked out before they began shooting. Unfortunately between 2007 and 2008 was the Writers Guild of America strike making it nearly impossible to get a writer to complete a script, pushing production date on the film back even further. At the same time, there was Nolans Dark Knight Trilogy that was at the center of the DC Universe and with Marvel pushing out their Avengers films, there was a lot of questions surrounding what DC would do with their characters. With Green Lantern coming out in 2011 and The Dark Knight Rises in 2012, both in separate universes. DC thought they could potentially bring those two films together and start establishing a Justice League film. However, both Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale both stated that they had wanted nothing more to do with the films they created and Green Lantern was a massive bomb. DC decided to scrap George Millers version of Justice League and instead reboot the franchise altogether with Man of Steel.
Now here we are with two versions of the same Justice League film and nothing further done with Millers vision of the League. However, many of the actors and actresses attactched to the project like Armie Hammer have stated that they wish the film would have been made. Well Armie, DC could possibly put something together. Previously stated in one of our articles the idea of incorporating Justice League Mortal into the many cameos of the upcoming Flash film, then maybe in the form of an animated film. If Hammer and possibly others are interested in seeing this film get made, then let’s make it an exciting animated feature. What has made the idea of this film so interesting though is Millers part as director, if he would be interested in coming on board even as a producer then count us DC fans in.
Possibly one of the most interesting and talked about entries we have on our list, especially after the success of the documentary The Death of Superman Lives!: What Happened? many people have become aware of what Superman Lives! was supposed to be. Let’s begin with how strange the production crew was: Written by Kevin Smith, Directed with Tim Burton and starring Nicholas Cage as Superman. At the get go, you can already tell how insane and crazy this film could have been.
The film went through many different concept ideas, but never one solid storyboard for how this film would have played out. Especially since the script had been revised and rewritten so many times by Kevin Smith, Wesley Strick and Dan Gilroy. But there were a few concepts and ideas that helped pave an idea for how this film would have been. Ideas that would have featured the use of Brainiac as the main protagonist, Brainiac morphing together with Lex Luthor to become one entity and the death of Superman similar to the 1992 comic book which lead to his return in a black suit. Eventually though the project was scrapped due to the continuous box office bombs Warner Brothers were experiencing in 1997 and 1998, especially with Batman & Robin.
However, since then there have been many ideas and concepts from this film that have been used in subsequent adaptations. The combining of Lex Luthor and Brainiac was later used in the animated series Justice League Unlimited, the Death of Superman story was later adapted in the 2016 film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and the use of Supermans black suit will be used in Zack Snyder’s cut of Justice League. Regardless, we are still left wondering what it would have been like to see Burton and Cage’s take on Superman. Despite Cage voicing Superman for the film Teen Titans Go to the Movies, maybe he would be up for returning in another animated film surrounding his take on the Man of Steel.