The Marvel Superhero Films That Never Were: DAZZLER: THE MOVIE - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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The Marvel Superhero Films That Never Were: DAZZLER: THE MOVIE

Good vibrations? Or the death of disco?

Proving that timing is everything, Dazzler, a disco singing mutant with the ability to convert sound vibrations into light and energy beams, made her comic book debut back in 1980 in The Uncanny X-Men #130, just as the world was pronouncing disco to be dead.

Originally conceived two years before this as a cross-promotion between Marvel Comics and Casablanca Records, there were big plans for "The Disco Queen", as she was originally called. Marvel Comics would develop a comic book about a singing superhero, while Casablanca would produce an actual singer so they could sell records, and on top of that an animated Saturday morning cartoon special was planned, with Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Jim Shooter writing the treatment.

Comics book series, animated special and a real life recording artist, The Disco Queen looked to be set for multi-platform royalties.

All was going well 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, putting together a committee of some of Marvel's best writers to figure out the character's nature, background and personality.

Writer Tom DeFalco took the lead developing her creation, while artist John Romita Jr. designed her look. The character soon changed its name from The Disco Queen to Dazzler, thanks to a suggestion from writer Roger Stern. And her non-superhero persona would be New Yorker Alison Blaire.

Alison's mutant powers first manifested when she was in junior high school. As an aspiring singer, she volunteered to perform at her school dance. Lost in the music, a-la Sister Sledge, her light-generating abilities first appear. Everyone at the dance assumes it is a technologically generated special effect, an assumption commonly made before she reveals herself to be a mutant later in her life. Using the stage name "Dazzler", Alison sets out to make a name for herself in the music industry, using her light powers and dancing ability to enhance her performances. Until destiny calls her to a higher purpose...

Due to financial concerns, Casablanca Records left the project in 1979. I wonder, though, could it also be a case that Casablanca had noticed that sales of disco records were declining rapidly, and so investing in a project based around a singing disco mutant whose budget was spiraling ever upward would not be the most sensible idea. The film, however, remained in the works, with Filmation (producers of the Star Trek: Animated Series, He-Man, She-Rah and much more like that, basically known only for their animated work) on board to produce.

When John Romita, Jr. designed Dazzler's look he'd intended for the character to resemble model, actress, and singer Grace Jones, but someone at Filmworks had an "in" with Bo Derek, and insisted on changing the design to reflect Derek's feature in a bid to lure her into agreeing to star in the live-action picture.

It worked! Bo Derek signed on to play Dazzler, and Filmworks hoped (let's really stress the word 'hoped' there) 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.

But the Dazzler movie wasn't just going to include the queen of disco. Oh no! The script for the proposed film starts with Dazzler performing at a concert. In attendance at said concert are The Avengers and Spider-Man. Why? Because superheroes dig that groovy disco beat too, that's why. <handwave>Things happen</handwave> and they are all transported into a futuristic New York, governed by evil "Queens" (Cher & Donna Summer, hopefully).

The project started to fall apart when Bo Derek demanded her husband John Derek direct the film. Filmworks refused so she quit. A pre-fame Daryl Hannah (who at that time had only a bit part in the 1978 supernatural thriller, The Fury, on her resume) then became briefly attached as the singing mutant, but sensing the last days of disco were upon them all, Filmworks dropped out too and the Dazzler Movie was put to sleep.

The Dazzler comic book still came out, debuting in 1981 and lasting 42 issues. Although she started out as a disco singer, Dazzler shifted to other musical genres, including rock and adult contemporary. In 1982 Jim Shooter took his original idea for the film and turned it into a graphic novel called "Dazzler The Movie." And many, many years later, Dazzler did eventually make it to the big screen. If you saw X-Men: Dark Phoenix, firstly I'm sorry you had to endure that, secondly you may have seen Dazzler make her live-action debut played by Halston Sage.


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