The DCEU has had a shaky legacy for many years. While there were people defending films like Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad for some time, it seems that the straw that broke the camel's back was Justice League. Most of us can agree that Warner Bros didn't quite handle those films well, but they seem to be on the right track again with movies like Aquaman and Shazam in the pipeline with more story-focused films coming in the future. While it remains to be seen if their strategy will pay off, but if Aquaman's box office leads any credence, the DC movies have a bright future ahead.
A lot of the problems in those movies centered around how they handled characters and how they handled their stories. Enchantress' sky beam felt like a rookie mistake to most, and we all know the reception of the dreaded "Martha" scene. However, some of you may be interested to know that those films could've turned out much different, which we know because of some released concept art that was never used. Some of them are as simple as character re-designs while others hint at potentially different stories. Needless to say, many of these pieces of concept art are much better than what we got in the final product. That said, there are some pieces of concept art that were much worse and make us glad they never made it in. Here are 10 unused DCEU concept art designs that are better than what we got and 10 that look worse.
20 BETTER: APOKOLIPS PRIESTS
The idea for Justice League was to introduce a villain who would be working for Darkseid, then introduce him to the big screen in the second Justice League film. While that isn't panning out anymore, there were a few ideas for how to make it happen. This concept art shows Apokolips priests being the antagonists of Justice League, coming to Earth to merely hint at the arrival of their master.
Their designs, while lacking in color, are much more memorable than that of Steppenwolf. Having hellish faces with metallic robes could've been a great way to hint at the trouble of Apokolips instead of parademons who went down in one hit.
19 WORSE: GENERAL ZOD
With Man of Steel being an encounter story of an alien coming to Earth, there was a plan to showcase General Zod in more of an extraterrestrial way as well. While the idea behind Zod's tougher suit in this concept art is nice, it seems generic and uninspired. It's needlessly chunky and it looks awfully similar to Batman's armored suit in the sequel film.
On top of that, Zod's final design always showed his face, which gave the audience someone to latch onto when it came to hating the antagonist. All in all, the final look was much more concise and effective than this one.
18 BETTER: A FACE TO FACE CONVERSATION
Batman and Joker appeared on-screen together in Suicide Squad once during the car chase sequence. However, Joker and Batman never shared any lines or even a moment together. That wasn't always the plan for the film, though, as this concept art shows. Not only do Batman and Joker have an actual confrontation, Joker does it while reading a book inside the Batmobile.
The rivalry between these two characters was barely hinted at during the film, and this scene would've been a much-needed improvement. Joker's design is also slimmer than previous versions, but not totally ridiculous like what we saw in the film.
17 WORSE: KILLER CROC
Putting Killer Croc in Suicide Squad came across mostly as a pointless decision that served only to get more Batman villains on the big screen. He didn't have his massive form that most of us recognize from the comics and even the Arkham games, instead being more of a more human-looking character with a lot of makeup.
However, there's something about it that worked, and it was certainly better than this piece of concept art. This art makes Killer Croc look more like an alien with a protruding lower jaw and a large forehead. The teeth are a nice touch, but that's about all we can say for it.
16 BETTER: STEPPENWOLF
Steppenwolf was criticized for being a poorly rendered, big, gray villain. While this concept art doesn't change his design enough to make him astounding (it's littered with too much detail), but his face certainly looks a lot better than the final product. Instead of being a goofy big man, this version of Steppenwolf looks more like an alien worthy of the realm of Apokolips.
There's a bit more color to his facial features which draws attention straight to his eyes and mouth. He's a bit more menacing too, feeling more like an actual threat to the League than whatever they want to call the version we got in the movie.
15 WORSE: THE BATSUIT
The Superman-destroying Batsuit in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice was based on the suit from The Dark Knight Returns. However, the suit in the movie was a bit slimmer while keeping the details intact. It was a good-looking suit through and through. However, this concept art shows that a more ridiculous suit was considered for the film.
The problem with the suit is that it's too chunky and has distracting details on the helmet. The red visor and teeth are interesting additions on paper, but they would seem to portray Batman as more of an antagonist, which would probably be not in the film's best interest.
14 BETTER: ARES
Despite the positive reception of Wonder Woman, there was one aspect that most agreed could've used more work: Ares. Part of the reason Ares was so poorly received was his design. The CGI didn't look completely done and he was just big and gray like most of the DCEU villains.
What makes this pill harder to swallow is that this concept art imagined him more colorful and inspired by classic Greek tales. Wielding a massive shield and sword, he looked like a dark and twisted version of Wonder Woman herself. His costume's aesthetic mirrors Themyscira and the dark face is more memorable.
13 WORSE: METALLO
There were a lot of plans for Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, and one of them was to introduce Metallo, but not in the way you might think. Most remember the man in the wheelchair, injured by the fight in Man of Steel who was used by Lex Luthor. Imagine a version of the film where he was turned in a flying robot with big arms and nothing else.
Honestly, this design just looks goofy. Wouldn't the whole point of turning someone into a cyborg be to remove their disabilities? Why not give him legs or even a big helmet? It was ultimately better to keep him as a guy in a wheelchair.
12 BETTER: SCARECROW
There were a few different characters considered for the roster of Suicide Squad, among them being Jonathan Crane, otherwise known as the Scarecrow. Seeing this concept art makes us wish that Scarecrow had made it in the film. Not only would he be visually distinct from the rest of the characters, playing with his fear toxin could be an interesting aspect when used as part of his repertoire.
We already had a live-action Scarecrow, but this one is so much closer to the comics that it might as well be a different character. Instead, we got characters like Slipknot and Captain Boomerang.
11 WORSE: CYBORG
Cyborg was always going to be a difficult character to bring to the big screen. He would require some special effects and need to have a clear enough design that people don't get lost in the material. While the final design could've used some work in those areas, the end result could've been much worse.
This concept art makes Cyborg look more like an alien, playing with his origin of the Motherbox. The problem is that there is nothing in the design to communicate that there is a person in there. Also, giving him four arms just seems like a silly trick that would have no practical application in the narrative.
10 BETTER: KRYPTON
Man of Steel gave us our first look at what a live-action Krypton could look like. However, there was some concept art that suggested we could've seen a lot more. In the movie, we only saw those at the top of the social ladder on the distant planet. This piece of concept art shows us the "underbelly" in many ways.
There are military-looking soldiers roaming around as well as everyday people. This would've been ultimately a disservice to a story about Superman, but showing this side of Krypton would've gone a long way to flesh out the planet to make us feel more saddened with its destruction.
9 WORSE: PARADEMON
Parademons are known as minions on Apokolips, often working for Darkseid and posing a serious threat even to the strong members of the Justice League. While the DCEU has a more reserved look for these creatures, this concept art makes them look even less distinct. There's some appeal in turning them into monstrous bug creatures, but at the end of the day, they don't stand out much from other aliens.
The versions seen in Batman V Superman and Justice League aren't significantly better, but they look a little more realized than this version. More color would've made them memorable in the long run.
8 BETTER: ENCHANTRESS
There's something mesmerizing about this version of Enchantress. Whether it be the multiple eyes, the gold coloring, or the massive figure looming behind her, there's a lot to like about this design. It simultaneously creates a different tone for the film, one that probably would've played around with the mystical side of the DCEU a bit more.
It's a much more psychedelic look for her, which would've gone a long way. Her final design in the film left a lot to be desired, as it was neither visually interesting nor well-crafted with CGI. This alone would've elevated her far beyond most DCEU villains.
7 WORSE: ENCHANTRESS
While the version of Enchantress we got in the final cut of Suicide Squad wasn't all that good, we have a few problems with this concept art version as well. The first issue is that the jewel on her head and long, dark hair make her resemble Wonder Woman, which likely would've distracted a lot of viewers from whatever was happening on-screen at the time.
The hood and robe also feel a bit generic and don't add much to the look in any way. This design seems to want the best of many worlds, trying to give her a more visually interesting look while fitting in with the tone of the film. It just doesn't click for us.
6 BETTER: SUPERMAN V DOOMSDAY
The final version of Doomsday in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice was ugly and somehow unfinished. The design looked like a bootleg version of what most people knew. However, had the movie played into a more demented look for the character, we definitely would've been on board.
Not only does this concept art show Doomsday with more personality, he looks more threatening, as if he truly were the leftover ideas and motivations of General Zod manifesting into a being whose goal was to destroy the Man of Steel once and for all. It would give us some nightmares, though.
5 WORSE: KATANA
Katana felt like a last-minute inclusion to Suicide Squad. Not only did she have not much to do in the film, but her introduction felt awkward and rushed. She added very little to the story. However, her costume wasn't all that bad, reflecting her Japanese roots while still having a bit of urban flair that was unique to the film.
This concept art would've made her look much more generic. Giving her a costume with all one color isn't a very good idea, as it takes away what makes her unique. Using more blacks, reds, and whites in the final version suited her a lot better.
4 BETTER: YALAN GUR
You probably don't recognize Yalan Gur himself, but it doesn't take a genius to know that he is a Green Lantern. Despite some people leading fans to think that there would be decent Green Lantern representation in Justice League, that wasn't the case in the final cut.
There was a brief Green Lantern cameo, but he never gets a name and we never really see his face. Imagine how much more interesting the movie would've been if it introduced a Green Lantern that wasn't any of the humans. He could've arrived on Earth to help in the battle against Steppenwolf.
3 WORSE: MERA
Mera had a small role in Justice League, and she wasn't all that interesting. She had a few emotionless lines of dialogue and that was it. However, her design was always decent from the start. Having certain markings and pieces of armor, she looked like an Atlantean. This version doesn't totally ruin her look, but it certainly lessens it (the blue overtones don't do it justice either).
The only way you can tell she's Atlantean is by the crown on her head. Both the character and her costume were later more fleshed out in Aquaman, and she was turned into a more interesting character.
2 BETTER: JOKER AND HARLEY
The relationship between Joker and Harley Quinn was something Suicide Squad explored in a few scenes. Their connection was always a bit more on the dramatic side, with them getting caught in acid vats and torturous moments of counseling. However, the execution, as well as their designs, left something to be desired.
This concept art shows an urban look for both characters, but doesn't overdo it with needless tattoos and torn-up shirts (it also mirrors artwork from "Crisis on Infinite Earths"). There's a certain twisted sincerity in the artwork as well that plays around with how Joker cares deep down for his beloved Harley Quinn.
1 WORSE: SWAT
There was a version of Suicide Squad that was supposedly going to include the Parademons. These beasts would take on a few different forms, among them being a SWAT team. While the idea of aliens turning into authority figures to take on the Suicide Squad is neat, it's not all that interesting. They would've just been another set of faceless enemies for the team to fight.
The continuity with the incoming invasion seen in Justice League would've been a nice touch, but the designs don't add much. Furthermore, it just raises questions about what the Parademons can do, so it was probably better they went in a different direction.