Over the years Warner Bros. and DC (now DC Films) have made a habit of announcing films that never get made. Unlike Marvel Studios, who have so far only failed to make one film (Inhumans) that had been announced, DC now have a long list of failed projects. Tim Burton’s ‘Superman Lives’ was such a disaster it even had a documentary, ‘The Death Of Superman Lives: What Happened’, made about it. Here are the top five DC films that we wish had been made.
5. Green Arrow: Escape From Super Max
Back in 2008, long before Green Arrow found a home on television, it was announced that David Goyer (‘Blade’, ‘Batman Begins’), the king of comic book adaptations at the time, was working on a script named ‘Super Max’ alongside Justin Marks (who would go on to write Disney’s ‘The Jungle Book’).
The script, that was later re-titled ‘Green Arrow: Escape From Super Max’, had Green Arrow being framed for a crime he didn’t commit and ending up in prison alongside numerous villains he had helped put away. In trying to escape to prove his innocence he would have to run the gauntlet of the prison’s security systems and the inmates out to get him. The film would have featured numerous DC villains and seen the return of the Joker to the big screen after his appearance in ‘The Dark Knight’.
This would have given DC the opportunity to get a lot of IP up on the screen years before they attempt a shared universe but, with Nolan’s Batman trilogy already in production, it was probably also the thing that stopped the project from moving forward. A similar concept ended up being used in the ‘Arrow’ TV show.
It was announced during the production of ‘Justice League’ that Warner Bros. was also developing a solo Deathstroke origin story with director Gareth Evans. The Welsh born Evans had made in name in Indonesian cinema with the low budget, all action and highly influential ‘The Raid’ and ‘The Raid 2’.
DC were hoping to replicate this success by greenlighting ‘Deathstroke’ with a budget of just $40 million which was incredibly low for a mainstream studio superhero film. Joe Manganiello was set to star and had been introduced during the end credits of ‘Justice League’ but the failure of that film soured the studio on the idea of a low budget villain origin. They proved themselves wrong with the release of ‘Joker’ in 2019.
3. The Batman
The failure of ‘Justice League’ and the loss of faith in Deathstroke as a villain also lead to the end of the Ben Affleck written and directed ‘The Batman’. In 2016 it was announced that Affleck was set to co-write (with Geoff Johns), direct, and star in the solo movie with Deathstroke as the antagonist. This was set up in a scene that was in the recently released ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ that had been removed in the original version. The film promised to be the most faithful adaptation of the comic books so far.
The strain of making the heavily reshot ‘Justice League’ had a great impact on Affleck’s mental and physic health and his passion for making the his film. Every time ‘Justice League’ changed he would also have to adjust his ‘The Batman’ script. In 2017 Affleck stepped away from writing and directing and was replaced Matt Reeves by but was still going to star. In May 2019 it was announced that Robert Pattinson was taking over the role of Batman and the script was being reworked completely and the film would be separate from the rest of the DC film universe.
Affleck has now been tempted back to appear as Batman in the upcoming ‘The Flash’ but we will never get to see what his vision for a Batman film was.
2. Justice League: Mortal
In 2007 it was announced that legendary filmmaker George Miller was going to direct Justice League: Mortal. The script had been written by Kieran and Michele Mulroney, there was a cast in place (including Armie Hammer as Batman and D.J. Cotrona as Superman), and it was days away from going in front of cameras.
Then the Hollywood writers strike happened and Warners lost their nerve over how must it was going to cost. They looked to move the production from Australia to cheaper locations in Canada and as time passed they started to lose the cast as contracts expired. There were also rumours that Christopher Nolan wasn’t happy that there would be a rival Batman to his own films. This could have been DC’s chance to get ahead in the superhero game but quietly the film just disappeared.
1. The New Gods
In 2018 DC announced with much fanfare that Ava DuVernay had signed on to direct an adaptation of Jack Kirby’s ‘Fourth World’. Kirby is famous for having co-created the majority of the Marvel Universe but had also done a vast amount of work for DC. The ‘Fourth World’ is about two warring planets of ‘New Gods’. There is the hero planet of New Genesis and the villain planet of Apokolips, which recently featured in ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’.
DuVernay hired Tom King as the film’s writer. King is currently one of the top comicbook writers and had recently been scripting the New Gods in the pages of the critical acclaimed ‘Mister Miracle’. Regular updates were shared about how well the project was coming together but then things went quiet. Then on the 1st April 2021 DC announced that they were not moving forward with the film.
This could have been DC’s something different. A sci-fi fantasy epic without a need to tie it into the rest of the DC films. But what makes ‘The New Gods’ cancellation hard to take is a lack of solid reason. DC said they couldn’t find a home for it in their release schedule even though they are aiming for eight films per year across theatrical and HBO Max. It was reported that the story had become to big for what DC were prepared to commit to. And then there was a rumour that it was because Darkseid, the main antagonist of ‘The New Gods’, had been used by Zack Snyder and DC didn’t want to use the character again. So instead of taking a chance on something different DC will fall back making films about characters with built-in brand recognition.
What films do you wish could have been made? Comment below.