For those unfamiliar, Plastic Man is exactly what you're thinking: A guy with the powers and abilities of a rubber band. He's the original stretchy superhero, predating Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four by 20 years. Despite being a C-list character, Plastic Man was pretty close to reaching the big screen thanks to a screenplay by two renowned writers/directors that had been making the rounds in Hollywood for over a decade. With special effects and CGI technology, it's not that hard to imagine a quirky slapstick superhero comedy based on this guy:
So What Was Wrong With It?
As we said, Plastic Man could make a good comedy. The problem was that the writers/directors attached to the project were better known for doing pseudo-philosophical films filled with brooding characters and elaborate action sequences.
Although they do have a history of men flying around with capes and sunglasses. Lots of sunglasses.
Andy and Lana (formerly Larry) Wachowski are reputed for writing, directing and producing action flicks like V for Vendetta, Ninja Assassin and especially The Matrix. None of which are very funny. Even though it was written in the 90s, Plastic Man isn't some old script they've completely forgotten about: They were reportedly interested in shooting it as recently as 2008 -- with Keanu Reeves in the lead role.
The last Bill and Ted movie was 20 years ago. That's the last time he smiled.
The script by the Wachowskis takes a few liberties with the source material. First of all, Plastic Man's true identity isn't Patrick O'Brian, a former crook turned good -- it's Daniel O'Brien, an environmental nut who yells at litterbugs on the street. Also, instead of getting powers from the classic and unlikely barrel of toxic waste (like in the comic), DOB gains the ability to stretch when an evil industrialist uses him as an unwilling lab rat in an experiment with polymers.
Just like at the last Cracked field trip.
So what's the ultimate goal of these experiments? Apparently, the deformed industrialist wants to look handsome again. If the Wachowskis were trying to use Plastic Man as some sort of commentary on plastic surgery (in addition to all the heavy-handed environmental stuff), well, it worked about as well as you'd expect.
Not the ideal vehicle for social commentary, it turns out.
But, hey, maybe we're being too harsh on the Wachowskis. What if they've had a sense of humor all along and just haven't had a chance to show it? In an old interview about Plastic Man, they described their idea of funny:
"Larry even described a scene from the film the made the brothers laugh at the time. 'The funny scene we thought of that was kind of the start of it all was like he goes to the bathroom after he becomes Plastic Man and his urine is no longer bio-degradable so he like wants to kill himself,' he chuckled."
Before Superman Returns, Warner Bros. was working on a very different Superman project: one that didn't dwell so much on daddy issues, Christopher Reeve references or Jesus imagery. Instead, we would have gotten an action-oriented Superman movie written by Lost's JJ Abrams, no less. Sounds like every fan's dream come true ... right?
We're not interested unless we can hardly see the Man of Steel for all the lens flares.
So What Was Wrong With It?
Abrams' script has become something of a legend on the Internet -- a blueprint for what, in some alternate universe, could have turned out to be the film that would force the governments of the world to collectively ban any additional Superman films.
Why? OK, we're just going to put this out there: Superman does Kung-Fu and Lex Luthor turns out to be an alien.
You read that right. In the script, Superman's greatest enemy gets a wholly unnecessary makeover: Lex Luthor is no longer a ruthless businessman/criminal mastermind, but rather a shady government agent obsessed with UFO activity. Why? Because Abrams loves conspiracy subplots, presumably. And, yes, Luthor actually turns out to be a Kryptonian alien himself (with superpowers and all). That's like doing a Batman movie where the Joker is re-imagined as a vicious country-folk singer.
And is Batman's second cousin, which makes it all nicely legal for the inevitable slash fiction.
Judging by the concept art, the movie would have also updated Superman himself, doing away with the classic "S" shield in his costume (only one of the most iconic logos of all time). The long sleeves and spiky hair suggest the casting call would have simply read "douchebag needed."
Also doing away with his underpants makes us feel slightly uncomfortable.
As we mentioned, Abrams' script was pretty action-heavy. That can't be bad, right? Well, that brings us to the kung-fu. The script specifically calls for Superman to engage in a "frenzied MID-AIR MARTIALS ARTS BATTLE." So wait, we have a superpowered government agent and a stylish kung fu Superman, isn't that a little like The Matrix?
"Janet, get us another Matrix Revolutions and two more mountains of cocaine."
But what if you don't give a crap about Superman -- is this a movie you could enjoy? Well, we'll never know, but we're guessing it depends on how much you liked films like these ...
... because those are the directors the studio was looking at. When Bryan Singer was hired to direct the new Superman movie, Rush Hour's Brett Ratner eventually ended up doing X-Men 3 and we all know how that worked out (it didn't).
For every superhero movie that's caught before it reaches screens, there's an X-Men 3.
The secrets don't stop here, learn more in the brand new Cracked.com book! And once you get that book, make sure you take a picture of yourself with it, then upload it to our Facebook fan page for a chance to win $250!
For more insanity surrounding superhero movies, check out 5 Comic Book Movies Way Worse Than 'Batman and Robin' and The 6 Most Absurd Moments from Superhero Movies.
And stop by Linkstorm to see what the Internet would look like if it were designed by the Wachowski brothers.
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