5 Marvel Superhero Movies That Almost Happened

Geek Dave looks at 5 proposed Marvel superhero movies that never made it to the screen.

1. James Cameron's Spider-Man
In 1991, fresh of the back of their Terminator 2: Judgement Day success, James Cameron wrote a treatment for a Spider-Man movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as Dr. Octopus. To say Cameron wanted to make some changes to the Spidey mythology is an understatement!

Cameron's take was quite mature in content, and laced with profanity. Peter Parker is described as "your basic sexually pent-up adolescent" and includes more than one scene featuring Peter spying on Mary Jane in her underwear and another with the two of them having sex on top of the Manhattan Bridge! Villain wise, a trio of Doc Ock, Electro and Sandman would've been featured. Electro was to be a successful "Donald Trump-type" businessman, who after attempting to rape a woman ends up killing her, then brings her back to life all using his powers to finish the 'job'.

Understandably Carolco, the studio who owned the rights at the time, didn't like what Cameron had in mind (maybe the suggestion of Charlie Sheen as the Web Slinger was the final straw!), and so they passed on his script. And the world said "Thank God!"

2. Dazzler
Proving that timing is everything, Dazzler arrived in comic form back in 1980 when the world was pronouncing Disco to be dead. Dazzler had the amazing ability of turning sound into light. Originally this was supposed to be a cross-promotion between Marvel and Casablanca Records, Marvel Comics would develop a singing superhero, while Casablanca would produce an actual singer so they could sell records.

All was going well, and there were even plans to produce a Saturday morning cartoon special to launch Dazzler. Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter was working on this, when someone at Hollywood got a sniff and said "Hey, let's turn this into a live action movie!". Shooter spent a whole four days (yes four!) on his treatment, he even included some of Marvel's big hitters in the story.

The script starts off with Dazzler performing at a concert, and then along with The Avengers and Spider-Man they are all transported into a futuristic New York, governed by evil "Queens". Amazingly Bo Derek signed on to play Dazzler, and the studio hoped to cast Cher as the Witch Queen, Donna Summer as the Queen of Fire, KISS as the Deadknights, Robin Williams as Tristan (Dazzler's love interest), Rodney Dangerfield as Dewey Cheetham (comic relief character - because this film clearly needed one!) and The Village People as The Stompers.

Things started to fall apart when Bo Derek demanded her husband John Derek direct the film. The studio said no so she left the project. Daryl Hannah then became briefly attached as the singing mutant, but after Casablanca pulled out of the deal, and disco was on its last legs, the movie project was put to sleep. The still came out and lasted 42 issues, and Jim Shooter took his original idea for the film and turned it into a graphic novel called "Dazzler The Movie."

3. X-Men Origins: Magneto
After X-Men 3: The Last Stand the plan was to produce a series of individual X-Men origin movies. We got one of them, in the form of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and Magento would've been next up. In fact as far back as 2004 screenwriter Sheldon Turner was hired by Fox to write the movie, and Ian McKellen was under contract for it. After Last Stand was released David Goyer was bought onboard to re-write and direct the Magento movie, he released a little synopsis to get the publicity machine flowing...
"The storyline will heavily involve Professor X, the wheelchair-using X-Men leader. That character was a soldier in the allied force that liberated the concentration camps. The professor meets Magneto after the war and while they bond over the realization that they are alike in their special powers, their differences soon turn them into enemies."
Originally the plan was to use CGI to make McKellen appear younger, but Goyer decided to recast both the roles of Magneto and Charles Xavier. Filming was scheduled to begin after the release of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, however because that movie was not as successful as anyone hoped production on this feature was canned.

But some of the treatment from Sheldon Turner's story was incorporated into X-Men: First Class,  and so Turner was given a "story by" credit in the film.

4. Peyton Reed's Fantastic Four
The man currently behind the camera for next year's Ant-Man was at one time attempting to bring The Fantastic Four to the big screen. Of course Marvel's first family did appear in 2005, but three years earlier a very different version was being planned. Reed was working with scriptwriter Doug Petrie who revealed some information about the project to MTV:
"They’re the biggest celebrities in New York City. To the world outside, they are the world’s coolest superheroes. [But] when they get home, they just fight with each other about everything. They order pizzas and argue about who gets the better costumes and stuff like that. It’s a family comedy when they get behind closed doors."
Sounds awesome! He then compared it to "A Hard Day's Night" but with superheroes. Petrie later revealed who he'd hoped to cast in the movie - Alexis Denisof (Angel) as Reed Richards, Charlize Theron as Sue Storm, John C. Reilly as the voice of Ben Grimm, Paul Walker as Johnny Storm, and Jude Law as Doctor Doom. Yes, Jude Law as Doctor Doom! Suddenly Julian McMahon doesn't seem like such a bad idea.

Apparently there was a period in time during the development that the film was going to be a throwback to the original comics and set during the 1960s, with the movie poster recreating the cover of the first issue...

...this idea was eventually discarded. Reed eventually departed the project due to creative differences. Tim Story was bought on board, who developed the movie released in 2005.

5. Cannon Films' Spider-Man
It's back to 1985 for another bizarre take on Spider-Man to link us back to the beginning.

Cannon Films spent $225,000 licensing the web-slinger - money well spent you may think? Only trouble was that the cousins who ran the Cannon Group, Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, weren't actually sure who Spider-Man was, they thought he was like The Wolfman! So they had in mind a superhero free movie, something more akin to the classic Universal monsters movies.

The director of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Tobe Hooper, was bought on board, and a treatment was put together by The Outer Limits creator Leslie Stevens. In it Peter Parker mutated into an eight-armed tarantula monster, and then set about fighting a variety of mutants who'd escaped a secret government laboratory.

Stan Lee stepped in and convinced Cannon to take a more traditional direction, and so a new script was written by Ted Newsom and John Brancato which saw Spidey take on Doc Ock. Cannon Films were so excited about the project that they took out a 50 page pull-out ad in trade papers to promote their upcoming feature...

But trouble was brewing behind the scenes. First Hooper left, to be replaced by Missing in Action director Joseph Zito, he quickly realised that Cannon were way out of their league. The cousins wooed him with talk of Tom Cruise playing Peter Parker, but quickly changed their mind and thought that stuntman Scott Leva would be the better choice (pictured above). Before he departed the project Zito had plans to cast Bob Hoskins in the role of Dr Octopus, his replacement, B-Movie director Albert Pyun, and Menahem Golan & Yoram Globus thought otherwise. A new script was written which now saw Spider-Man face off against a "bat-like scientist-turned-vampire".

Logistical problems, and another Stan Lee intervention, saw a further rewrite that now included the Lizard as Spidey's nemesis, and Lee himself as J. Jonah Jameson. Sets were built, and most of the (unknown) cast were in place.

Before they finally pulled the plug in 1988, it was reported that Cannon Films had spent well over $10 million in developing their Spider-Man movie, an unheard of sum at the time. Every new re-write and direction saw the filming budget for the proposed movie cut further and further, and so it got to the stage where there was just not enough money left to actually shoot the movie. A last ditch effort saw Pyun suggest that he film the movie alongside the proposed Masters of the Universe sequel - both films sharing sets and production costs. But when that film also fell through, Pyun accepted defeat. He went on to use the sets and props that had been created for Spider-Man in his Jean-Claude Van Damme movie, Cyborg.

The Cannon Group went under, so to recoup some losses they sold the rights to Spider-Man to Carolco, the studio behind Total Recall and Terminator 2. They just happened to have James Cameron on speed dial...

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