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10 Comic Book Movies That Will Literally Never Happen

 

There’s never been a better time to be a superhero fan, because Hollywood is more invested than ever in bringing as many bankable comic book properties to the screen as humanly possible.

At present you can expect up to a dozen superhero movies to release in any given year – including animated films, of course – but for every one that makes it to cinemas, there are countless in-the-works comic book films that sadly never come to fruition.

Though these 10 superhero movies are all in some stage of development, it’s honestly more apt to say they’re in development hell, having failed to secure a concrete cast and crew alongside the all-important executive sign-off.

With each passing day making it increasingly unlikely that these films will ever actually see the light of day, it’s probably for the best if fans just admit to themselves that they’re never going to happen.

It’d be great to be wrong – in some cases, anyway – but Hollywood’s overflowing graveyard of unrealised superhero movies suggests these projects are as good as dead…

10. Justice League Dark

DC Comics

Murmurs of a Justice League Dark movie go all the way back to 2012, when Guillermo del Toro started work on an adaptation of the darker, supernatural superhero B-team.

Updates were sporadic in the following years even as del Toro completed the script and hoped to roll his story into the DC Extended Universe. He eventually walked away from the director’s chair in 2016 and was replaced by Doug Liman, but by mid-2017, he too had left the production.

The movie’s official title was announced at 2017’s San Diego Comic-Con, and that’s the last concrete update fans have received.

One suspects that, especially in the currently volatile DCEU climate, Warner Bros. is extremely nervous about green-lighting an expensive, effects-heavy movie featuring a cast of heroes the general public doesn’t know much about.

There’s not really any feasible way to make the movie satisfactorily on a lower budget, and one suspects this thing’s just going to languish in development hell until it’s quietly cancelled. Fans will instead have to make do with the not-bad animated film released last year.

9. The Incredible Hulk 2

Marvel Studios

Ever since the Marvel Cinematic Universe successfully reintroduced The Hulk as played by Mark Ruffalo, fans have been wondering when Marvel Studios will get around to making a standalone follow-up to 2008’s The Incredible Hulk.

In fact, the project’s never been officially confirmed in any capacity, with Kevin Feige frequently acting coy about rubber-stamping another Hulk solo film.

It was finally revealed in 2015 that the main obstacle is Universal holding the distribution rights to the character’s standalone films. By having the big green guy appear as a supporting character in movies such as The Avengers and Thor: Ragnarok, Marvel Studios can avoid all the legal red tape.

Even with the underwhelming box office history of both prior Hulk blockbusters, there’s no doubt a new solo Hulk movie would do gangbusters business.

However, with Universal’s hold over the character having no end in sight – as it’s most likely renewed every time he appears in a new MCU film – it’s probably never happening.

8. The Sandman

Vertigo

Neil Gaiman’s masterfully surreal comic series would make one hell of a movie, and as such it’s been in some form of development for roughly 20 years.

Pulp Fiction co-writer Roger Avary was originally attached before being fired, and subsequent scripts left both fans and Gaiman himself extremely dissatisfied with how the project was progressing.

By late 2013, Gaiman, David S. Goyer and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were collaborating on a new attempt, with the latter possibly set to star and direct, but he quit in early 2016 due to the ever-popular “creative differences”, a mere day after a new screenwriter was hired no less.

Scarcely little has been heard since, though last year Gaiman did consider the idea of adapting The Sandman into a TV show instead. As wonderful as it’d be to see the movie made, it’s just too ambitious, too expensive and too damn weird for Hollywood to roll the dice on it.

7. Gambit

Fox

When a movie has its own “Development of…” Wikipedia page, you know it’s had some trouble making it to the big screen.

Fox has had designs on a solo Gambit movie for many years now, with Taylor Kitsch originally intended to spin-off his X-Men Origins: Wolverine version of the fan favourite superhero into a standalone film.

The movie was a critical bust, though, immediately killing the Gambit plans and forcing the producers to go back to the drawing board.

In 2014, X-Men producer Lauren Shuler Donner re-announced Gambit, with Channing Tatum signing on to play the Cajun superhero, having been an initial casting choice during production on X-Men: The Last Stand (in which Gambit was originally scheduled to appear).

In recent years, the troubled project has burned through name directors such as Doug Liman, Rupert Wyatt and Gore Verbinski, while at present Gambit is without any director to speak of.

With a recent release date push to early 2020 – just the latest of several delays – and the film’s genre being changed from a heist movie to a romantic comedy, it really sounds like nobody involved with Gambit has a solid idea of what it should be or how to get it made.

A mid-budget, Channing Tatum-led superhero movie shouldn’t be too difficult to get off the ground, but given how long it’s languished in development, it’s hard to have faith Gambit will ever come to pass.

6. Cyborg

Warner Bros.

Shortly after Ray Fisher was cast to play Victor Stone aka Cyborg in Batman v Superman, it was announced that Warner Bros. would be pursuing a Cyborg solo movie as part of their DCEU slate.

In fairness, this always seemed like a bit of a dubious prospect, given the niche nature of the character and the obviously sky-high budget required to convincingly put him on the big screen.

With Cyborg barely appearing in BvS and failing to make much of an impact in Justice League, word has become increasingly quiet on the film over the last year, while Warner Bros. has reportedly reconfigured the DCEU to focus more on sure bets like Wonder Woman 1984 and lower-budget projects such as Shazam!

Cyborg technically still has an April 3, 2020 release date, but nobody in their right mind believes it’ll stick, or that with the current state of the DCEU, Warner would dare spend the $100+ million necessary for a Cyborg solo film.

Nobody cares about this iteration of the character and he looked like cheap trash in the $300 million Justice League, so we likely won’t see him again until Justice League 2 finally happens (assuming it does, of course).

5. Lobo

DC Comics

The cigar-chomping, bike-riding interstellar mercenary Lobo was originally envisioned as a parody of “gritty” Marvel superheroes such as Wolverine, The Punisher and Cable, but fans ended up embracing the character unironically.

A Lobo movie has been in the works for almost a decade, with Guy Ritchie initially approached to direct a PG-13 film with a tone similar to his acclaimed gangster flicks. Ritchie eventually left to work on the second Sherlock Holmes movie, and in 2012, Brad Peyton (San Andreas, Rampage) was confirmed as the new director.

Peyton’s frequent star Dwayne Johnson was briefly in talks to play Lobo, but left in order to play another DC character, Black Adam, in a movie that’s also yet to materialise (though is far more likely to actually get made).

Peyton has since been out of the picture and Warner Bros. is apparently keen to hire Michael Bay to direct, though with the current script requiring a $200 million budget, even tentpole schlock maestro Bay has reportedly taken a moment for pause.

Clearly a movie this out-there needs to be made on a Deadpool-sized budget, not an Avengers-sized one, which suggests that Warner Bros. once again has no idea what the hell they’re doing with a beloved superhero property. As neat as the character is, it’s not happening.

4. Blade 4

New Line Cinema

Though the original Wesley Snipes-starring Blade trilogy concluded in 2004 with the widely-reviled Blade: Trinity, Snipes has been talking-up the possibility of a fourth movie in recent years, especially after the rights reverted to Marvel Studios back in 2012.

By 2013, a script for a new Blade movie had been completed despite the lack of a formal announcement, and Snipes – who, admittedly, has a vested interested in stirring the pot – claims he was in talks with Marvel for the film.

While it’s certainly likely we’ll see another Blade movie sooner or later, it’s incredibly hard to believe that Snipes’ version of the Daywalker will get another go-around, if only because the R-rated tone wouldn’t suit the MCU house style at all. That’s not to forget that Snipes would be pushing 60 even if production started soon-ish.

It’s far more believable that Blade will be rebooted with a new actor for a possible MCU stint, and while Snipes could have a passing-the-torch cameo, a new movie starring him is a pure pipe dream.

Back in the late-90s, Snipes was a bankable box office commodity, but with late-millennials having little frame of reference for the actor, Blade 4 is more of a financial risk than anyone wants to admit. That, more than any other reason, is why it won’t happen.

3. Nightwing

DC Comics

A Nightwing movie was first announced early last year, with Ozark creator Bill Dubuque set to write the script, while The LEGO Batman Movie’s Chris McKay will direct.

McKay’s film is intended to be a gritty, grounded origin story for Dick Grayson, and though earlier this year the script was said to be almost finished, it feels like yet another well-intended, mildly intriguing DCEU project that will never actually get off the ground.

While its low-budget nature certainly works in its favour, one suspects the movie may be harmed somewhat by the controversial current depiction of the character on Warner’s TV show Titans.

It would at least make sense for this movie to get some distance from that series before going into production, but if Titans survives for multiple seasons, that could cause the project to fall into the developmental abyss.

Late last month, a fan asked McKay on Twitter if the project was dead, and he replied, “No. You’re going to have to wait tho. Keep hope alive.” That…doesn’t sound very encouraging.

2. The Crow

Caliber Comics

A remake/reboot of the 1994 cult classic comic book adaptation The Crow was first announced in 2008, with Blade director Stephen Norrington set to helm.

Norrington left the project in 2011, after which a number of different directors danced with it, including Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later) and Corin Hardy (The Nun), while the likes of Bradley Cooper, Mark Wahlberg (!), Tom Hiddleston, Alexander Skarsgård, Luke Evans, Jack Huston and Jason Momoa flirted with playing protagonist Eric Draven.

Development was temporarily derailed by Relativity Media’s bankruptcy in 2015, and though both Hardy and Momoa were committed to the project for the last few years, they ended up bailing earlier this year.

This shouldn’t be a tough project to get off the ground, honestly, given its low budget and somewhat iconic branding, but clearly something just isn’t gelling. If it hasn’t been made after a decade’s worth of attempts, it’s probably never going to.

1. Booster Gold & Blue Beetle

DC Comics

Surely the most eccentric and, er, optimistic project on the DCEU slate at present, this movie will see cult heroes Booster Gold and Blue Beetle appearing in their own team-up film, with Zack Stentz (X-Men: First Class, Thor) and Greg Berlanti (Arrow) currently working on a script focused largely on Booster Gold.

The unnamed team-up film was first confirmed in late 2015, but updates have been incredibly scarce as of late. Most recently, Berlanti said that he wasn’t sure whether or not the movie would be a DCEU project or part of Warner Bros.’ non-canon DC slate, where the Joaquin Phoenix-starring Joker film will reside.

After all, it doesn’t seem terribly likely the duo will be integrated into the Justice League, and given Booster Gold’s penchant for time travel, it’s probably best if he’s kept far away from the already messy continuity of the DCEU.

But the salient point is that these more niche characters can’t be a priority for Warner right now while they’re in post-Justice League crisis mode. As such, it’d be incredibly easy for the studio to just sweep this under the rug along with Justice League Dark and Cyborg.

 

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