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At first glance, it seems like we've run out of superhero movies to make. We've rebooted certain series so many times that you could do an Expendables made up entirely of former Batmen. They're making a freaking Gambit movie. It almost makes you wonder, "How insane does a superhero idea need to be for Hollywood not to make it?" We're very glad you asked. This insane:

Michael Jackson's X-Men

20th Century Fox

We live in a world of wonders and magic, but it's nothing compared to the world we almost lived in -- one in which Michael Jackson played Professor Xavier in an X-Men movie. The King of Pop actually lobbied for the part, but seemed to know he was a long shot. And we don't mean the X-Man Longshot.

Marvel Comics

Getty Images/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Though we guess he would have been a passable Morph?

Jackson was so eager to play the role that he tried to buy Marvel. He figured if he owned the company, who could say no? As if anyone in their right mind would say no to a squealing, dancing Professor X leading a team of ten-year-olds and a chimpanzee, which almost certainly would have been his first and final idea. The point is, Michael Jackson's X-Men would have been so transcendent that every time Professor X rose from his wheelchair to circle slide, so too would each handicapped person watching.

20th Century Fox
"Breaking news: Doctors stunned as millions of paraplegics worldwide have regained the ability to moonwalk."

Jackson's deal to buy Marvel obviously never went through, which is a mistake time travelers will hopefully repair, because he wasn't only looking to score the role of a super-persuasive man surrounded by magical children. He was also hoping to play Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man.

It sounds vaguely ridiculous (in the best way), but he wasn't without his supporters. When asked about it, Stan Lee himself said that he thought Jackson would've been a great Spider-Man. How fantastic would that have been? Do you remember that scene in Spider-Man 3 where Tobey Maguire turned evil and delivered into our world cinema's worst dance number?

Columbia Pictures
You damn well do now.

If Michael Jackson was Spider-Man, they would have invented a new category of Academy Award to present to that scene. Or maybe it would have resulted in the death of cinema itself. We'll never know.

We Almost Got Quentin Tarantino's Silver Surfer (Among Others)

20th Century Fox

The Silver Surfer has always been a bit of a weird character. He saved his planet by volunteering to work for Galactus as a "herald." A herald's job is to fly through space and find planets for Galactus to eat. After years of sentencing billions, maybe trillions, of beings to death, he decided to quit and use the "power cosmic" to become a hero. At the risk of oversimplifying things, the power cosmic can totally do anything. So ... how do you make that into a movie?

20th Century Fox
Okay, now how do you make that into a good movie?

It's not exactly clear, but many people have tried. They approached George Lucas in 1990 to discuss a Surfer movie, but it was decided that the silver man technology wasn't quite there. One studio tried painting a man with mineral oil, but it looked less cosmic and more "buns calendar."

After Reservoir Dogs, Quentin Tarantino showed interest in making a Silver Surfer movie, and this idea bounced around until it got to Fox, who hired John Turman to write a script. In it, the Surfer came to Earth, met a 12-year-old prostitute, fell in love with a waitress, and got turned into an ordinary, non-silver human by an evil general.

20th Century Fox
He would also inexplicably use the N-word a lot.

Yes, their idea was to make a movie about a silver space god and turn him into a regular human for most of it. And even after all that, they decided that the film would be too expensive. The Silver Surfer finally showed up as a supporting blob of CGI in 2007's Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer. Before its release, plans were already in the works for a solo Silver Surfer movie. There was an entirely new script from comics writer J. Michael Straczynski, and rumors surfaced that The Rock or Vin Diesel might play him. And then the world saw the Rise Of The Silver Surfer. It couldn't have been worse for the Silver Surfer's movie career if they had called it Fantastic Four: All Ticket Holders Are Automatically Registered As Sex Offenders. So after nearly three decades of Hollywood's most powerful filmmakers trying to make it happen, we are still no closer to a Silver Surfer movie.

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We Almost Had Joel Schumacher's Very Serious The Dark Knight Returns ... With Nicolas Cage

Warner Bros.

Remember when Joel Schumacher realized his vision of the Dark Knight in Batman & Robin?

Warner Bros.
An unrelated photo of knockoff action figures sold in Hong Kong under the name "ULTRA STEELTITS AND RACCOON DOUCHE."

The movie was a campy disaster. It was a desperate, nipply attempt at a Batman movie that missed so hard that it nearly killed the franchise forever. However, had the movie not failed so miserably, there was another Schumacher Batman film planned. The plan was to adapt/ruin Frank Miller's gritty The Dark Knight Returns -- arguably the best Batman book ever written, and the story on which the upcoming Batman V. Superman movie is based. Seems like a simple idea, right? Well, it totally wasn't.

The plot of the thankfully-never-made film went in a strange direction from the source material. It began with Batman being doused with Scarecrow's fear serum and hallucinating all his past villains -- Catwoman, Two-Face, and Joker, who was to be played again by Jack Nicholson. They even had plans to introduce Joker's daughter ... Harley Quinn. Batman fans might recognize her as the woman who is absolutely not Joker's daughter, and she was to be played by freaking Courtney Love. Joker's girlfriend becomes his daughter becomes Courtney Love? If Schumacher was so determined to destroy children's joy, why didn't he just go door-to-door with a corpse to show them he had killed Santa Claus?

Matt Carr/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Wait, no, this is scarier.

The only bright spot in this sewage pipe of an idea was who Schumacher wanted for the Scarecrow. Fresh off the failed Superman Lives, he was looking to cast Nicolas Cage as the villain. That's the kind of decision that could have turned this dogshit pile of nonsense into the good kind of crazy.

Warner Bros.
Are YOU fuckin' scared, Batman!? HUH!?

And while we're on the subject ...

We Almost Had A Tim Burton Catwoman Spinoff

Warner Bros.

It's hard to overstate how huge the 1989 Tim Burton Batman movie was and how beloved it remains today. The sequel ... not quite as much. Mainly because Penguin vs. Batman has gone down as not only the saddest Batman fight, but possibly the saddest movie fight of all time. After posing no physical threat to the hero, Penguin wandered off to flop to his death and get carried off by adorable penguin pallbearers.

Warner Bros.
That all happened.

So Danny Devito's Penguin wasn't exactly something that needed to be revisited. Michele Pfeiffer's Catwoman, on the other hand ...

Warner Bros.
She's something we could do with more of.

If you don't remember, her character was a perfect mix of hot, scary, and absurd. She was a mousy secretary whose murdered body was brought back to life by the power of cats. It was the kind of origin story that really leaned into its not-giving-of-fucks. Burton moved on from Batman, but not from Catwoman. Before Batman Forever came and dropped a nuke-sized deuce on the legacy of the Dark Knight, there was going to be a Catwoman movie that would've made Batman Returns seem sane.

The plan was a Catwoman film set in Oasisburg -- a Vegas-like city run by superheroes. It would've been written by the same writer behind Batman Returns. In other words, a proven nutbag. The script involved Catwoman losing her memory (again) and battling against all the superheroes who were secretly criminals. Michele Pfeiffer had signed on to return, and Burton was gearing up to make it.

Warner Bros.
Pfeiffer's hair also expressed serious interest.

So what happened? The script was finished and turned in on the opening day of Batman Forever. It had a silly kiddie tone and bright rainbow colors, and it made way, way more money than Returns. The film's financial success convinced WB executives that big and stupid was the future of superhero movies, not dark and weird. So instead of an unhinged, sexy Catwoman fighting a city of superpowered criminals, we got, sigh, Batman & Robin. As if anyone needed another reason to hate that damn movie.

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We Almost Had Oliver Stone's Elektra

20th Century Fox

Oliver Stone is a controversial director. His movies are aggressive, artistic, and often politically polarizing. To this day, Natural Born Killers is still the most anti-establishment way to trigger an epileptic seizure. And it was right around the time he finished NBK that Stone was set to make his first comic book movie. It was going to be a bloody, violent adaptation of Frank Miller's Elektra.

Now, non-nerds may only know Elektra from Ben Affleck's Daredevil movie -- or worse, from her own movie. If so, you probably think Elektra is nothing but a roundabout way of telling your Netflix algorithm it can relax because you will watch fucking anything. But you should know that the character is more terrifying and awesome than Jennifer Garner portrayed her. So while it's hard to picture Oliver Stone doing a superhero movie, Elektra was less a typical superhero and more a murdery ninja. And the comic looked like this:

Marvel Comics
Which looks like an Oliver Stone movie poster already.

Elektra: Assassin was going to be a gore-filled political satire about Daredevil's ex-girlfriend attempting to kill a presidential candidate who was being controlled by an ancient ninja evil. Basically, she had to kill him before he could take office and nuke all of humanity. Artistically speaking, it was made of only good ideas.

The film was going to feature Elektra battling against the endless ninjas of The Hand, and would have probably been amazing, but the rights to the character were sold to 20th Century Fox before it was finished. Why the new studio decided to make four hours of sweaty garbage instead of Oliver Stone's Every Goddamn Thing Is Ninjas is a mystery we may never solve.

20th Century Fox
Unless ... shit, did Elektra kill JFK?

We Almost Had A Terrible, Terrible Sandman Movie


Neil Gaiman is a geek god with an eclectic body of work, but he's best known for his Sandman series. It's one of the most popular non-superhero graphic novels of all time. It follows Morpheus, the King of Dreams, on his adventures across all of time, space, and dreams. It's deeper and more emotional than your average comic book, but you'd never know it from the film adaptation they almost made.

At first, the movie was in good shape. It was scripted by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio (they wrote Aladdin and the Pirates Of The Caribbean movies), who distilled 70 issues of comic saga into a single two-hour movie. It sounds a bit impossible, but Gaiman was reportedly happy with it.

Jemal Countess/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
This is Gaiman's happy face.

Then along came Jon Peters.

You might remember Jon Peters from our last article about Crazy-Ass Superhero movies. He's the hairdresser turned self-proclaimed street fight champion turned movie executive who wanted Superman to fight a gigantic spider. Among several other things wrong with him, he had a weird obsession with giant spiders. He eventually got his giant spider wish in Wild Wild West, but Sandman was in production before Wild Wild West. You might see where this is going.

"You get what anybody gets. You get a shit-ton of giant spiders."

Peters hired a screenwriter to tweak the script. Most importantly, he made sure the King of All Dreams had a fist fight with a big-ass spider. As he put it, probably to anyone who listened to him talk for longer than a second, "Did you know spiders are the fiercest creatures in the animal kingdom!?"

After they were done spider-fucking it, Gaiman called it not only an awful Sandman script, "but quite easily the worst script I've ever read." And, thankfully, he stopped production before it could go any further.

Warner Bros.
Giant spider historians had to settle on this.

Tara Marie really, really, really likes superheroes. You can email her about them at teratomatara@gmail.com.

Man, clearly Hollywood has no balls, because it turns out there's a lot of crazy shit that we almost had. See what we mean in 3 Insane Spider-Man Movies You Won't Believe Almost Got Made and 5 Superhero Movies You Won't Believe Almost Got Made.

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