6 Totally Bonkers Superhero Movies That Never Got Made
Superheroes are so popular these days that we wouldn't be surprised if the upcoming Downton Abbey movie threw some radioactive chambermaids into the mix just to help out at the box office. But there was a time when not every superhero film was given hundreds of millions of dollars and at least one Hemsworth. Believe it or not, there are comic book movies that never got made at all. And some of them would have been strange as hell. Such as ...
The '90s Hulk Movie Was Almost About Bruce Banner Experimenting On Prisoners
Making a movie about the Incredible Hulk seems like a difficult task, partly because it's tricky to write a giant green rage monster, and partly because it could mean putting up with Edward Norton. Before the Hulk became a key part of the most lucrative franchise in history, he had a few false starts. Before even the 2003 Hulk, the big guy almost made it on to the big screen back in 1997. And it would have been weird, to say the least.
The story found Bruce Banner (played by Billy Crudup) working on how humans could survive "long range space travel." So what does our hero do? He experiments on convicts, of course! Well, that's ... grossly unethical. Even worse, his experiments consist of injecting these men with "gamma-irradiated insect DNA," which turns them into giant bug creatures. Which, predictably, the Hulk has to fight. Wait, who is the villain here, exactly?
See that giant mosquito? That was a regular guy, who for all we know was busted for a few grams of weed before Bruce Banner ruined his life and turned him into a mutant bloodsucker. As for the Hulk, early concept art for the project portrayed him as more "neanderthalish," giving him that "wandering through the natural history museum on mushrooms" vibe.
In the end, the project didn't come together. So for a few more years, fans craving a Hulk movie had to watch a bodybuilder in green paint awkwardly tussling with a drunken viking.
Superman III Was Almost Super-Incesty
Superman III is already a nutty movie. Not only does the ending feature a supercomputer that can magically transform humans into laser-blasting cyborgs, but at one point Superman splits in two and battles his alcoholic doppelganger in a junkyard. As hard as it may be to believe, it was somehow almost crazier. Series producer Ilya Salkind wrote a detailed outline for how he thought the flick should play out, and it reads like a super-fever dream.
For starters, this movie was going to introduce Supergirl. Instead of heading straight for Earth, she gets adopted by the alien supervillain Brainiac. In an icky twist, despite the fact that he's her adopted dad, when she "gets older into adolescence," he totally falls in love with her. Presumably, this version of Brainiac is a neurotic New Yorker with giant glasses.
Supergirl escapes Brainiac's clutches and arrives on Earth, where Superman promptly falls in love with her too. Despite the fact that she's his cousin in the comics. Don't worry, after realizing they're into each other, Superman and Supergirl have a "conversation trying to find out if they are related. They are not." Which in a post-Game Of Thrones world is frankly something of a relief.
Brainiac's big plan involves building a fancy machine that will alter Superman's personality, either making him violent or "sarcastically funny." To spare her boyfriend the grim fate of sarcasm, Supergirl agrees to marry Brainiac. Oh, and the magical imp Mr. Mxyzptlk shows up, because why the hell not at this point? And if you think it's too late in the story to introduce time travel, you're dead wrong. Brainiac then takes Supergirl to the Middle Ages so he can rule over a town of serfs. Superman follows, and he and Brainiac end up dressing like knights and jousting, for some reason.
Superman wins and takes Supergirl back to the '80s, leaving Brainiac in the past, where presumably he'll be too polite to undo most of human history.
The First X-Men Script Featured Tickling And Giant Nostrils
It's hard to imagine a time before the X-Men films' blatant disregard for internal logic was confusing moviegoers. But back in 1984, five years before even Tim Burton's Batman, comic book writers Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas were hired to do an X-Men script. And it's ... weird.
For one thing, Professor X isn't in a wheelchair, either because of an executive's note or because no one wanted to build ramps on the set. They also weren't allowed to use the word "mutant," because it would "prejudice the studio against a project."
On the wackier side of things, the plot concerned a psychic vampire raising a sentient landmass, and his secret base was on Easter Island. The X-Men are trained in mere days by Prof. X, but then Wolverine temporarily turns evil because he's "seduced" by the villain's daughter, Carmilla. In the end, the villain turns into a "half-crystal entity," but is defeated after Kitty Pryde uses her powers to ... tickle him?
When Wolverine turns good again, he knocks Carmilla out of one of the Easter Island sculpture's nostrils. Which sounds hilarious, but it somehow kills her! We haven't even mentioned the brand-new character Yoshi, a Japanese "New Wave pop star" who was created to "pander to potential Japanese investors." All of which sounds like an insane mess of a movie that still probably would have been better than The Last Stand.
Silver Surfer: The Paul McCartney Rock Opera
For comic fans who always wondered what would happen if a nude awards statuette with a penchant for water sports obtained sentience in outer space, there's Silver Surfer. The iconic Jack Kirby creation has only appeared on the big screen once, in 2007's sequel to the third-crappiest Fantastic 4 movie. But we almost got a Silver Surfer movie way before that, in the 1980s. And because it was the '80s, it was going to be a full-on rock opera.
The project originated with producer Lee Kramer, who wanted the movie to costar his girlfriend, Grease star Olivia Newton-John -- presumably as either Silver Surfer's love interest or a gender-swapped Galactus. Kramer also wanted the Silver Surfer's theme song to feature literally "one thousand guitars," which sounds like the kind of idea Metallica would come up with if Kirk Hammett was a snowman made of cocaine.
Not deterred by how insane all of this sounded, Kramer reached out to a living legend to contribute music to the movie. A Beatle, no less. Yup, they asked Paul McCartney if he would write some songs for this thing, and amazingly, he was seemingly into it. Which isn't that surprising, considering McCartney is a big Marvel (and specifically Kirby) fan. He even wrote a song all about Magneto, and we're pretty sure "Hey Jude" is secretly about Darkseid.
While the movie fell through, Kramer went on to make another rock opera starring Olivia Newton-John, the much-maligned Xanadu. Which would have been way better with some cosmic superheroes thrown in the mix.
Green Arrow: Escape From Super Max -- Green Arrow Is Arrested For Murder And Sent To Prison
Before he was the star of his own TV show, DC hero Green Arrow was set to lead his own movie in which he's immediately put in jail. Penned by Justin Marks and compulsory comic book screenwriter David S. Goyer, Green Arrow: Escape From Super Max would have found the archery enthusiast with a goofy beard being framed and thrown in the slammer after the assassination of a government official is "set up to look like his handiwork." Which probably just entailed shooting him with a bow and arrow. And it isn't any prison; it's the titular "Super Max," like a regular prison but more ... super, we guess.
Awkwardly, the facility is full of villains Green Arrow helped put away, and he actually teams up with some of them in order to escape, clear his name, and presumably be arrested again for helping a bunch of criminals escape from prison. Goyer claimed that the most exciting part of the job was designing the prison, because he "majored in architecture in college." Which is a little like being hyped to write Die Hard because you used to work in an office building.
A Dazzler Movie Starring KISS And The Village People
Comic fans know Dazzler as the mutant who can turn "sonic vibrations" into light. Dazzler was a disco singer who became part of the X-Men, fighting the forces of evil while presumably sneaking off to Studio 54 between issues.
It turns out that Dazzler was literally created in order to "set up a joint venture with a record company" while disco was on the verge of death. Because if there's one medium that's good at defying mortality, it's comics. Marvel teamed with Casablanca Records, who wanted Dazzler to star in her own half-hour animated special. Legendary comics writer Jim Shooter was tasked with writing an outline for the show in only four days.
Shooter's outline featured a hypothetical cast list that included Cher, Robin Williams, and Rodney Dangerfield in multiple roles, including Lord Chaos. Plus bands like KISS and the Village People.
And by the way, KISS have superpowers that match their costumes, as do the Village People! Spider-Man and the Avengers are there too, but pale in comparison to, say, the Construction Worker, who wields a "jackhammer that can create small earthquakes."
The record label loved the treatment so much that, according to Shooter, they stated: "This isn't a half-hour special. This is a FEATURE FILM!" Soon Bo Derek was attached to star in the movie, prompting a bidding war among studios. Then Derek insisted that her husband (who would go on to helm an erotic ghost movie co-starring Donald Trump) be the one to direct the film. Which prompted a ... well, whatever the opposite of a bidding war is.
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