As long as there’s been a Hollywood, there’s been scandals. The age of social media has made them even more talked about among fans. Add in the obsessed comic book fan factor and things can escalate very quickly. In this day and age, it seems any minor change or controversy can blow up into a full blown scandal. Seriously, just watch Twitter anytime a casting announcement hits the news. Either the world is saved or the apocalypse is coming. While some are no big deal, others are worthy of sending fans into overdrive. Though, if we’re being honest, it really doesn’t take much to send us into panic mode.
It’s taken a long time for comic book fans to see their favorite properties on the big screen. Unfortunately, all their childhood heroes are subject to the same scrutiny as any other big budget project. That means directors must balance studio concerns with artistic integrity, actors have to be ready to put characters’ origins above their preconceived ideas and producers will constantly be held accountable by millions of readers, who are experts on every facet of their main heroes. Obviously these goals don’t always mesh well, so when they clash, a scandal erupts. With that in mind, here are the biggest scandals to hit superhero movies.
15 JOEL SCHUMACHER PUTS NIPPLES ON THE BATSUIT
Yes, we understand this is a ridiculous thing to get worked up over. However, at the time die-hard Batman fans were ready to riot when director Joel Schumacher decided to put nipples on the batsuit. Moviegoers had fallen in love with Tim Burton’s gritty, weird take on Batman and Gotham, so Schumacher’s merchandise friendly version was already starting from a negative.
It’s not unusual for the character to change suits between movies -- it’s mainly a device to sell more toys.
Prior to the release of Batman Forever, Schumacher said he “wanted a very sexy, very sensual, very body-hugging suit.” Um, ok. Apparently, he was going for a more anatomical look. Turns out, audiences were just fine imagining Batman’s various body parts. While the nipples became a long-running joke, they were hardly noticeable over Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones’ scenery chewing.
14 CATWOMAN MOVIE ISN’T ACTUALLY ABOUT CATWOMAN
As one of Batman’s frequent rogues and quite possibly his one true love, Selina Kyle/Catwoman is one of DC’s more popular characters. She’s been memorably featured on the big screen in the films Batman Returns and The Dark Knight Rises, so it was only a matter of time before she got her own movie. When it was announced recent Oscar winner and Storm actress Halle Berry would don the famous suit, fans were interested.
Unfortunately, the movie wasn’t actually about Catwoman. Berry played a completely new character named Patience, who dies, is brought back to life by cats, then does some other unimportant stuff. The film had no connection to Batman or any other DC comics. It was a one off that really had no purpose other than to put Berry in a sexy costume.
13 GAMBIT LOSES THREE SEPARATE DIRECTORS
The X-Men films have had varying levels of success, but it’s still one of the most profitable franchises in Hollywood. Since Gambit has long been a fan favorite, and with star Channing Tatum attached, it’s a no brainer to add him to the lineup.
Except, this project has been snake bitten from inception.
Original director Rupert Wyatt left because of creative differences. His replacement Doug Liman ended up exiting because he didn’t connect with the film’s new script. Things finally seemed settled when Gore Verbinski signed on, but those pesky creative differences popped up again and he left two months before filming was scheduled to start. Despite its search for a fourth director, Gambit is currently scheduled for a June 2019 release. Of course, the pending Disney/Fox puts everything up in the air, so it’s anyone’s guess if we’ll ever actually see this movie.
12 EDWARD NORTON LEAVES THE MCU
Signing on to a big superhero franchise is a big commitment and it’s not for everyone. That was especially true of The Incredible Hulk star Edward Norton. He was originally going to be the MCU’s Bruce Banner, but things didn’t work out and he left after just one film, There have been conflicting reports from both Marvel and Norton on why they couldn’t make it work.
At the time of the film’s release, there were stories about disputes over the final cut of the movie. Norton and director Louis Leterrier wanted a more character driven film, while Marvel wanted something more commercial and action oriented. Recently, Norton has cited his desire to do the smaller, independent movies he’s known for as his reason for leaving the franchise. No offense to Norton, but it worked out for the best, as Mark Ruffalo is a better Bruce Banner and Hulk.
11 MICHAEL KEATON AND TIM BURTON LEAVE BATMAN FRANCHISE
We really can’t overstate what a phenomenon 1989’s Batman was. It was literally everywhere that year. T-shirts, toys, radio stations, barber shops. Yes, people were having the bat signal shaved into their heads. Anything that successful obviously leads to a sequel. Batman Returns was just as successful, though maybe not as well received by mainstream audiences. Warner Bros. wanted its cash cow to be a more family friendly, toy marketable franchise.
Tim Burton is a lot of things, but back then his movies weren’t generally thought of as family friendly.
Over the years, the director has been candid about the fact that Warner Bros. didn’t want him back. Michael Keaton eventually left because he didn’t like the direction Joel Schumacher wanted to take the character in. Though these changes are commonplace now, this was a big deal in the olden days of the '90s.
10 CONTINUED FAILURE OF FANTASTIC FOUR MOVIES
Following the success of X-Men and X2, Hollywood was back in the superhero business. Fox decided to capitalize by bringing Marvel’s First Family to the big screen. While 2005’s Fantastic Four was panned by audiences and critics, it made $330 million at the worldwide box office, enough for the sequel Rise of the Silver Surfer. That film put an end to the family’s big screen adventures for awhile.
Sadly, when they returned it was in 2015’s Fantastic Four, which was somehow worse than the 2005 version. At least that one had a few fun scenes. This one was just a huge downer, that unnecessarily rewrote some of the team’s origin. Seriously, do you know how hard it is to make a bad Michael B. Jordan movie!? The Disney/Fox deal has given fans new hope that Marvel Studios will be able to give the Fantastic Four the movie they deserve.
9 DON CHEADLE REPLACES TERRENCE HOWARD
Recasting is not new in comic books. Heroes change identities all the time, and in movies and TV actors frequently replace one another. When it was announced Don Cheadle would be replacing Terrence Howard as Tony Stark’s best friend Col. James Rhodes for Iron Man 2, fans were surprised, because the stage was set for him to become War Machine in the next outing.
Howard says he wanted to be paid more for his role becoming bigger in the franchise, also claiming that Robert Downey Jr. stopped him from getting a new contract.
Marvel says he simply asked for too much money. Though we may never really know what the truth is, in the long run everyone benefitted. Fans love Cheadle, who has a better chemistry with Downey and Howard was free to take on the role of Empire’s Lucious Lyon, being nominated for multiple awards in the process.
8 JOSS WHEDON EXITS BATGIRL
Following his very public split with Marvel, Joss Whedon seemed completely done with superhero movies. So, imagine the nerd world’s surprise when the writer/director signed on to make a Batgirl film for the DCEU. Though fans were split on whether he was the right choice, no one thought he would produce a bad product.
However, that all changed when he stepped in to finish Justice League for Zack Snyder. The film received mixed reviews and underperformed at the box office. Many of the movie’s troubles were attributed to the complicated outcome of having two directors with dual visions. On the heels of that misfire, Whedon announced that he was leaving Batgirl because he couldn’t come up with a story. Really!? The man behind Buffy, Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse was lacking in ideas!? There’s got to be more to the story and we can’t wait to hear what really happened.
7 BEN AFFLECK CAST AS BATMAN
Through movies and TV shows there have been several actors to play Batman over the years. Some have been classics like Michael Keaton and Adam West. Others have been memorable for the wrong reasons like George Clooney.
When it was announced Ben Affleck would become the newest actor to don the cowl in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, fans had an intense reaction.
Basically the internet exploded. Affleck’s first go as a superhero in Daredevil didn’t go over well. He also had a string of box office embarrassments before going behind the camera to direct The Town and Argo. Everyone was convinced he would ruin Batman, but it turned out he was the best thing about the movie. His world weary, experienced Batman was the only interesting character in the film. He was the DCEU’s saving grace until Wonder Woman came along.
6 EDGAR WRIGHT EXITS ANT-MAN
When it was announced that director Edgar Wright was making an Ant-Man movie, fans were excited. A man who shrinks down to the size of an ant and sees the real world from his point of view, seemed like an unfilmable project, but if anyone could make it work it would be Wright. He worked on the script and character concepts for years.
With all this time and energy put into the project, it came as a big surprise when Wright left the movie. Fans were given the age old creative differences as the reason, with no one ever really specifying what those differences were. Wright told Nerdist that “I think the most diplomatic answer is I wanted to make a Marvel movie but I don’t think they really wanted to make an Edgar Wright movie.” Ultimately, we all got a great movie, but we’ll forever wonder "what if?".
5 SONY’S LEAKED EMAILS ABOUT SPIDER-MAN
A few years ago Sony suffered every studio’s worst nightmare when the private emails of top executives were released by WikiLeaks. One of the big reveals that came from the scandal was that they clearly had no idea what they were doing with Spider-Man. Something that came as no surprise to fans who saw The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Among the leaks were the very particular rules Marvel set forth about Peter Parker and Spider-Man.
Also included were Kevin Feige’s unheeded attempts to save The Amazing Spider-Man 2 even though he had no incentive to do so and they had a whole terrible universe of Spider-Man movies planned. If these emails are any indication, fans should be concerned about Venom, Silver and Black and any other Spidey projects Sony wants to do.
4 TILDA SWINTON IS THE ANCIENT ONE
The instant Marvel confirmed Doctor Strange would become a part of the MCU, fans began speculating about casting. A frequent question was who would play Strange’s mentor The Ancient One. Of all the guesses the hit the internet, actress Tilda Swinton was not on anyone’s list. This is not a knock against Swinton, who is always interesting.
However, Swinton is a white, British woman and the Ancient One is a man born in Kamar-Taj, meaning he’s Asian. It was another example of Hollywood taking a role for a person of color and giving it to a white person. Marvel tried to say that the Ancient One was a title that could be passed down to anyone, but the explanation rung hollow with fans. It was a textbook case of whitewashing, with no reason for the change, and even worse no understanding of the outrage.
3 JOSS WHEDON LEAVES MARVEL
Over the years, plenty of big name directors have left Marvel Studios after one or two movies. By far the most famous director to part ways with the company has been Joss Whedon. The fan favorite joined the MCU on The Avengers, which was a billion dollar success. This led to his return for Avengers: Age of Ultron. He was also consulting for all of phase two, which meant his life was revolving around one franchise.
Following Age of Ultron, Whedon decided it was time for him to move on so he could work on other projects.
Whedon’s exhaustion at finishing such a big project, coupled with fans’ negative and aggressively mean reaction to the Black Widow storyline, caused the exit to become uglier than it was meant to be. Time has made everyone friends again and Kevin Feige wished Whedon well in his endeavors with Warner Bros. and the DCEU.
2 PHIL LORD AND CHRIS MILLER ARE FIRED FROM SOLO
Since its return to theaters with The Force Awakens, Star Wars has reached unparalleled success. When a young Han Solo movie was announced, fans were cautiously optimistic. The hiring of Phil Lord and Chris Miller to direct was an outside the box choice for the franchise. The duo were mainly known for the comedies 21 Jump Street and The Lego Movie. Han Solo was the funniest character in the franchise, so ok sure.
Turns out, it was not a great decision for anyone. They found that the strict formula of Lucasfilm was not compatible with their improvisation style. Producers discovered that the filmmakers’ looser style didn’t mesh with the well oiled machine that is Star Wars. The firing was very public and messy, with everyone’s business making headlines. They were replaced by Ron Howard and it’s anyone’s guess on how much the upheaval will affect the film.
1 WARNER BROS. MESSES UP DCEU
The ridiculous success of the MCU has led to every studio trying to establish its own connected universe. With its own lineup of popular superheroes, it was no surprise when DC announced it would be launching its own franchise with the Justice League. The league started meeting up in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. This movie should’ve been our first hint that things were not going to go well.
It was a long drawn out mess, that looking back, established the seemingly chaotic nature of the DCEU.
Other than Wonder Woman, Warner Bros. hasn’t really been able to find their footing. It’s understandable that they don’t want to copy Marvel, but they could at least follow the blueprint enough to give fans a solid, shared universe. The whole franchise is now up in the air, as Warner Bros. makes big changes to try and right the ship.