There are so many damn superhero movies out there that it's easy to feel like any movie pitch based on a comic book is automatically greenlit into a trilogy and corresponding spinoffs. However, that's not actually the case -- for every Spider-Man reboot, there are countless comic book adaptation projects that never made it past the developmental stage. And while some of them were clearly too ridiculous to be allowed to live, others sound way more interesting than the movies we wound up getting instead.
Look, we're not saying all of these would have been great -- Hollywood is capable of ruining even the best of ideas. But you can't help but be intrigued when you hear ...
5 Batman Was Almost An Ivan Reitman Action-Comedy Starring Bill Murray And Eddie Murphy
It would take a lot to convince most Batman fans that a screwball comedy adaptation of their favorite crimefighting pointy-eared detective would be a good idea. You'd need a freaking dream team of funny people to pull that off -- like, for instance, a Ghostbusters-era Ivan Reitman directing a young Bill Murray as Bruce Wayne and Eddie Murphy as Robin, sticking bananas into the tailpipes of Gotham's criminal underworld.
And they fight Gotham's most diabolical villain yet: Gopher.
Well, that almost happened.
In the early '80s, before Tim Burton got his Hogwarts professor hair tangled in the spokes of the franchise, Warner Bros. hired screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz to write a Batman film that would have been much lighter, close in tone to Superman: The Movie or the Roger Moore 007 films (two of which Mankiewicz had also written). Bruce Wayne would have been a smooth-talking, womanizing playboy who drove an Aston Martin and had a giant Batcave like in the comics, complete with a giant penny and mechanical dinosaur (metaphors for his wealth and sexual prowess, respectively, and also for his ability to get drunk and buy things on eBay).
"I have a whole other cave full of even dumber shit."
Since Reitman had just proven he could make a smug asshole likable in Ghostbusters, which was a film that also included gadgets and high-concept, effects-driven action sequences, they offered the director's chair to him. Warner Bros. plan was to pair Bill Murray, the aforementioned likable asshole from Ghostbusters and Stripes, with Eddie Murphy as a wisecracking Robin, which isn't that outrageous when you consider that Murphy basically dressed like Robin back then.
If anything, the Chris O'Donnell version looks more reserved.
Eventually the studio changed its mind and took the movie in a different direction, resulting in the biggest box office phenomenon ever at that time (although they did hire a comedian to play the Dark Knight). Still, a rougher-edged version of the 1960s Batman TV series starring some of the greatest comedic minds of the past century would've undoubtedly been legendary in its own right. Also, Bill Murray thinks he ""would have been a fine Batman," which is really all the assurance we need.
4 Superman Was Almost A Godfather-esque Trilogy Spanning Thousands Of Years
Mark Millar is the short Scottish man who wrote the comics behind films like Wanted, Kick-Ass, and Kingsman: The Secret Service, plus a bunch of Marvel stories (including Civil War) that have served as the template for the Marvel Cinematic Universe -- right down to the casting choices.
That "Doctor Pym" was "motherfucker" in the script, but Marvel thought it was too on the nose.
But despite the fact that he writes comics in which the Hulk tries to kill Freddie Prinze, Jr. for going on a date with Betty Ross, Millar's favorite character is the most G-rated of superheroes: Superman. He bought the actual cape Christopher Reeve wore in the original movies, and presumably wears it while running around his bedroom making whooshing noises for an hour every night before lights out. He also wrote an acclaimed comic imagining what would've happened if Superman's rocket had landed in the USSR instead of Smallville, Kansas (spoilers: we'd all be spectacularly communist now). Millar wanted to give us an eight-hour Superman trilogy that was somehow more dark and insane than Bolshevik Clark Kent taking control of the entire world.
Spoilers for Batman v. Superman ... probably.
In 2007, after Superman Returns underwhelmed both moviegoing audiences and Warner Bros. accountants, the studio contacted Millar and asked if he was interested in pitching a franchise reboot. Millar answered by immediately whipping out a 200-page document full of all his ideas for a Superman movie.
Millar called his proposal "Godfather-esque" because it told Superman's "entire story from beginning to end," just like Michael Corleone's -- except for the fact that it started a thousand years ago on another planet and ended in the distant future, with Superman facing the existential drama of seeing everyone he's ever loved fade away, plus the more immediate drama of seeing the sun slowly turn red as it grows into a supernova, eventually killing him. Which admittedly sounds a lot like the ending to The Godfather Part III. If you thought Man Of Steel went a little overboard by destroying Metropolis, Millar wanted to do the same thing to existence as we know it.
"Can we keep the beard and lose everything else?" -- Zack Snyder
Warner Bros. loved Millar's proposal ... until they found out he was currently working for Marvel and realized it would look bad if they hired one of DC Comics' archenemies to handle their biggest property.