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5 DC Comics Superhero Movies That Almost Happened

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

1. Justice League: Mortal
We have a Justice League movie arriving in 2017, but there was very nearly one a decade beforehand.

In 2007 George Miller (yes Mad Max George Miller) came very close to giving the world the first proper Justice League movie. Warner Bros had locked in a script from Kieran and Michele Mulroney before production was put on hiatus by the Writer’s Strike of 2007/2008. In early 2008 it was announced that the movie would be filmed with motion capture technology, similar to that used in The Polar Express and Beowulf.

Miller planned to shoot the whole thing in Australia, and New Zealand's Weta Workshop were bought on board for the production. Their contract stipulated it was an exclusive agreement to focus solely on Justice League and not take work for any other movies until it was completed.

With work to begin February 2008 all the cast were all in place, and some years later images of them gathering during pre-production appeared online...

From the bottom- director George Miller, Jay Baruchel(Maxwell Lord), Hugh Keays-Byrne(Martian Manhunter). Next row- Santiago Cabrera(Aquaman), Adam Brody(The Flash), Teresa Palmer(Talia al Ghul), stuntman Greg Van Borssum, and producer Barrie Osborne(Lord of the Rings). Armie Hammer(Batman) is at the very back and D.J. Cotrona(Superman) directly in front of him.

With Adam Brody as Barry Allen/The Flash, D.J. Cotrona as Superman, rapper Common as John Stewart/Green Lantern, Armie Hammer as Batman, Megan Gale as Wonder Woman, Santiago Cabrera as Aquaman, Hugh Keays as The Martian Manhunter, and Jay Baruchel as the film’s villain Maxwell Lord, we very nearly had the Justice League heading to the big screen.

Jay Buruchel has since said that the story was very dark, brutal and epic, and the concept art he saw was the coolest thing he'd ever seen. But alas, Justice League: Mortal became a victim of the tax system! Its budget had started out at around $200 million, but was spiraling up closer to $300 million, the only way Warners could make the movie was by taking advantage of the Australian tax incentives. However, the recently-elected Australian prime minister, Kevin Rudd, changed the tax rebate incentive program, which meant with no way to make changes to the script (thanks to the writer's strike still going strong in the US), and no way to bring the budget down, Warner Bros had no choice but to abandon the project.

2. Batman vs. Superman
We're not talking 2016's Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, but rather an attempt to bring the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel to the big screen back in 2002. Andrew Kevin Walker penned the script and director Wolfgang Petersen was attached to the project. He revealed;
"It is a clash of the titans. They play off of each other so perfectly. [Superman] is clear, bright, all that is noble and good, and Batman represents the dark, obsessive and vengeful side. They are two sides of the same coin and that is material for great drama."
The story involved a retired Bruce Wayne who's wife would have been murdered at the hands of the Joker. Wayne seeks revenge and is tricked into battling his former friend Superman, only to later discover that the Joker was in cahoots with Lex Luthor. The two super-friends then team-up to take Luthor down.

The script was revised by Akiva Goldsman (the man who wrote Batman Forever and Batman & Robin) and now went under the title of Batman Vs Superman: Asylum. A copy of the script was released online some years later. An embed of it is below...

Amongst the star names who were touted to be either involved or interested in the project were Matt Damon, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, James Franco, Jude Law, and Paul Walker.

3. Wonder Woman
Back in 2005, long before he was responsible for The Avengers, Joss Whedon was tasked with bringing Wonder Woman to the big screen. Makes sense right? After all he'd spent seven years on Buffy so he would seem to be the perfect choice.

As well as signing on as director Whedon had written the script, and that's about as far as it got as when he presented his story to Warner Bros they changed their minds and pulled the plug on the project. Many years later Whedon spoke about the situation:
"[Warner Bros & I] just saw different movies, and at the price range this kind of movie hangs in, that’s never gonna work. Non-sympatico. It happens all the time. I don’t think any of us expected it to this time, but it did. Everybody knows how long I was taking, what a struggle that script was, and though I felt good about what I was coming up with, it was never gonna be a simple slam-dunk. I like to think it rolled around the rim a little bit, but others may have differing views."
He also teased that his take on the Amazon Princess was "a bit like Angelina Jolie", but in his mind he'd hoped to cast Cobie Smulders in the role.

Just as I was preparing this article a piece of promotional artwork for Whedon's Wonder Woman surfaced...

...It's by Adam Hughes, and it's recently sold at auction on eBay (here) for $2,225!

4. The Flash
In December 2004 it was announced that David Goyer would be writing and directing The Flash movie. At first he spoke of casting Ian Somerhalder as The Flash/Wally West (at the time believed to be the central character), and Somerhalder confirmed his interest and that he was indeed in talks for the role.

The following June there was talk of Ryan Reynolds portraying Barry Allen, and Wally West having just a minor role. Goyer also revealed that he envisioned the character to be quiet dark, but he still hadn't locked the script down.

And then it went quiet.

In February 2007 Goyer officially left the project, stating on his MySpace page (which no longer exists):
"The God’s honest truth is that WB and myself simply couldn’t agree on what would make for a cool Flash film. I’m quite proud of the screenplay I turned in. I threw my heart into it and I genuinely think it would’ve been the basis of a ground-breaking film. But as of now, the studio is heading off in a completely different direction."

5. Green Arrow: Escape From Supermax
OK, so it's sad that we never got to see any of the previous 4 movies, all of them could have been really interesting projects (maybe not so much Ryan Reynolds as The Flash, although I'd still watch it), but this one may just be the biggest disappointment of the lot, as if it had made it to the big screen it could've been one of the greatest superhero movies of all time.

It's from David Goyer (again), who whilst overseeing The Flash was also working with scriptwriter Justin Marks on Green Arrow: Escape From Supermax. The earliest news of the project broke in 2004, and a proposed synopsis appeared shortly after that:
"When the vigilante known as Green Arrow is framed for murder, he’s imprisoned in the Supermax Penitentiary for Metahumans, where he must team-up with the super criminals he once captured if he wants to escape and clear his name."
The project stayed in development hell for many years. It was still on track in 2008, minus Goyer, when Justin Marks spoke about Supermax: 
"It’s a very, very awesome prison. I majored in architecture in college, and design is how I actually started in. For ‘Super Max,’ designing that prison, it had to be the kind of thing that was a character in and of itself. We’re in a world where instead of just trying to contain a guy who’s really big, you’re trying to contain a guy who can — in the case of Icicle — who can freeze things. What kind of a cell would a guy like that need in order to have his powers neutralized? So to escape from Super Max they have got to go through the most elaborate heist we’ve ever seen, involving superpowers. Because the prison itself kind of has superpowers!"
It sounds like a whole load of awesome, and the prospect of Amanda Waller, Icicle, Gemini, The Pied Piper, The Riddler, Lex Luthor, and The Joker - well, sign me up for midnight tickets.

Of course, the movie never came about and Green Arrow ended up making his way to the small screen, but technically there's no reason this film couldn't still happen. I mean, I know we've got Suicide Squad coming up which is sorta similar, but they are forever rebooting these universes, so you never know.

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