Let’s face it: for every “Dark Knight” or “Thor”, there are a dozen “Batman and Robins”. A lot of comic movies deeply, painfully suck. But they’re nothing next to the scripts that didn’t get produced. Some of these are legends, some of them obscure, way too many of them are about Superman, but no matter what way you slice it, Hollywood has been getting comic books and superheroes painfully wrong for a long, long time.
Although, let’s be fair here, there’s only so much you can do with some of these subjects. Here are five scripts we found that we’re really glad never saw the light of a projector bulb.
Dazzler has had a longer life as a joke than as a serious character. We all know the story by now: Marvel was approached by Casablanca Records to create a character to cash in on the then-popular disco craze, which Marvel promptly released to great fanfare right as disco bought the farm.
But apparently we nearly had a Dazzler movie, complete with Bo Derek. Thankfully, she insisted her douchebag husband John Derek direct said sure-to-be-financial disaster. Also, amazingly, off of a Jim Shooter draft they wrote a script that somehow made a bad idea an absolute mess. Here’s Jim Shooter with his original treatment and a terrifying account of what we nearly got subjected to.
Speaking of infamous, as much as nerds tend to hate on “Superman Returns”, which frankly is underappreciated, it’s absolutely nothing compared to some of the abuse Superman went through in the twenty years it took for Warner Brothers to relaunch the franchise, and then immediately reboot it. There’s another infamously bad script that we’ll get to later in this article, but first we want to focus on the definitive piece of proof that J.J. Abrams should not be allowed near a franchise.
Go ahead, read that script. Read about Superman doing kung fu while flying. Read about how Krypton doesn’t blow up in this iteration. Read about how Lex Luthor is a CIA agent, who actually is also a Kryptonian. And then realize two absolutely horrifying and terrible things:
1) This cinematic stillbirth would have been delivered by the subtle, careful hands of…McG. Yeah, the “Charlie’s Angels” guy.
2) This isn’t the worst script Warner Brothers barfed out in the production process. Hell, this isn’t the worst superhero script Warner Brothers has actually put up on screen.
Before James Cameron managed to make the single most successful movie ever twice in a row while destroying any credibility he had as a filmmaker, he was going to make Spider-Man into a movie. We know, exciting, right?
Sure, until you actually read the treatment. Let’s just say it explains a lot about why “Avatar” sucked.
For some reason, Cameron was a bit…obsessed with Peter Parker being a seventeen year old kid in puberty. Our introduction to him is his popping zits in the mirror, and it just goes downhill. The absolute nadir is Peter Parker having a “wet dream” with webbing standing in for the usual nocturnal emissions.
Yes, somehow Cameron wrote a script worse than the one for “Spider-Man 3″.
The maiden cinematic voyage of the Green Lantern Corps could have gone better. As in a lot better. But there’s no denying that it went a lot better than the movie Warner Brothers nearly subjected to us.
Bad idea number one: hire the guy behind Triumph, The Insult Comic Dog, because that guy (Robert Smigel, for the pedants) is totally the height of comedy. Bad idea number two: tell him to make it a wacky comedy in the vein of “The Mask”. No, not the comic, making it like the comic would have been disturbing and awesome.
But the crowning bad idea had to be hiring Jack Black to star. Yeah, him. Remember him? Remember when pop culture went insane for about three years and decided he was a star and funny for some inexplicable reason? He nearly sank Green Lantern.
It’s not clear what precisely happened. As you may see from that link, it was a done deal: this movie was going to happen. Rumor is, fan feedback was so uniformly hostile and negative that even the most idiotic exec realized this movie was going to bomb. All we know is that somehow, we dodged a bullet. Thank God.
And here it is. The bomb of bombs. The most infamous failure in comics movie history. The clusterf*** that meant it took twenty years to get a remotely decent Superman movie. The movie everybody involved is ashamed of: Superman.
Believe it or not, we really were once painfully close to have a Superman movie written by Kevin Smith. Remember, this was before the early 2000s, when the haze of pot smoke surrounding his fan base blew away and everybody realized Smith had been recycling the same gags for more than a decade at this point. Smith was THE comics nerd, just like David Goyer is Warners pet nerd now. And he wrote this script.
To be fair, this terrible script is not really Smith’s fault. Jon Peters, the producer on the project, is infamous for being insane. He’d produced “Batman” for Warner Brothers, one of their most successful movies ever, and he was looking to replicate that success. So it was about size, scale…and toy revenue. This is why there’s a giant spider and a cuddly dog, and also the JLI’s L-Ron, who Peters wanted to be a gay R2D2.
“A Night With Kevin Smith” has more details, but sadly, this really is what Hollywood thought the people wanted in the late ’90s: Superman in an all black costume with a pet dog fighting a robotic spider.
Yeah, sadly, that’s pretty accurate.
I want more like this!
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