In the movie industry, there are so many projects that are granted a brief gasp of life before scheduling conflicts, budget conflicts, test screenings, behind the scenes issues, a change in leadership, push back from the actors, or any number of intervening factors ultimately kill the fledgling project. This is the nature of the movie business and something that huge blockbusters have to deal with more than, say, an indie movie or comedy. There are far far more scrapped projects than ones that make it to the big screen, and this is especially true when it comes to the superhero movie genre (although you wouldn't know it with the amount of them coming out these days). Because of the nature of this beast, there have been a plethora of projects that have been planned or promised and never came to fruition. For one reason or another, many projects only exist as myths and speculations.
With Marvel’s tumultuous history, there have been numerous projects from them that never saw the light of day. And many of them sounded interesting, especially for the time. Examples of this include the rumored continuation of the X-Men: Origins series: X-Men Origins: Magneto, and a sequel to Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man series that only exists in concept art. The state of the MCU (and maybe movies overall) could be completely different had these movies actually hit the big screen. In some ways, it's a blessing that James Cameron never got to do his Spider-Man movie, or that Darren Aronofsky didn't get his hands on Wolverine. With that, here’s 20 Cancelled Marvel Movies We Wish Got Made.
20 DARREN ARONOFSKY'S THE WOLVERINE
The Wolverine was better than it had any right being following the reviled X-Men Origins: Wolverine. But who knew that there was a time when Darren Aronofsky was attached to direct it? Darren Aronofsky is an amazing filmmaker and should be trusted with any project he feels that he can tackle.
Known for his surreal and and often jarring style of filmmaking, this would have been a Wolverine, and comic book, movie like no other. As we’ve seen in Logan, a surprising amount of violence is usually beneficial in a movie about a mutant with unbreakable claws that come out his hands. Plus, Aronofsky would’ve most likely leaned even more into the emotional side of Logan.
19 GUILLERMO DEL TORO AND NEIL GAIMAN'S DOCTOR STRANGE
We’re all still angry that this never happened. Gaiman revealed that he was in very early talks with Marvel about writing a Doctor Strange movie. He brought the idea to the master of modern gothic, Guillermo del Toro, who was extremely interested. But alas, Marvel never pursued it. This is such a perfect pairing that it’s insane that this hasn’t happened.
Guillermo del Toro is the premiere gothic horror director in the world and has a proclivity towards monsters. Neil Gaiman is known primarily for his beloved metaphysical comic book, The Sandman. Monsters, metaphysical beings, horror, that sounds exactly like a Doctor Strange movie. These two are so creative and Guillermo del Toro is an incredible, Academy Award-winning director. This team would’ve produced something amazing.
18 QUENTIN TARANTINO'S LUKE CAGE
Quentin Tarantino is another director whose talents justify anything he’s attached to. Tarantino’s films are known for their highly exaggerated style and tendency to play with linear storytelling. He’s an auteur with a highly entertaining style that elevates anything he works on.
Imagine a street-level Luke Cage movie set in Harlem that’s as irreverent and exaggerated as Pulp Fiction. Luke Cage has always been over the top, he even tracked down Doctor Doom to Latveria and beat him up because he owed him money. Tarantino’s style exaggerated style is a perfect fit for content as over the top as Luke Cage. Seeing him deliver a this movie would’ve been so much fun.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t an MCU idea nor was it an idea that came about after Spider-Man and X-Men revived superhero movies. But this still would have been interesting nonetheless. Initially, the concept of a She-Hulk movie was introduced as a spinoff to the 1978 Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno series The Incredible Hulk.
Even though the Hulk was killed in his final movie, The Death of the Incredible Hulk, the studio never planned to write him off permanently. They actually planned to introduce his cousin, Jennifer Walters, who would be in an accident and require a blood transfusion from her cousin, resulting in her transforming into She-Hulk. Though Brigitte Nielsen isn’t an amazing actor, putting She-Hulk in this universe undoubtedly would’ve been entertaining.
16 WES CRAVEN'S DOCTOR STRANGE
This was a match so perfect that the thought of what could have been is painful. Wes Craven is best known for his Nightmare on Elm Street series which starred the dream-hopping entity, Freddy Kreuger. Well, surprise, Dr. Strange has his own dream-hopping entity in his trippy rogues gallery by the name of Nightmare
Nightmare is a demon that rules over the Dream Dimension and he feeds on the nightmares of all beings. This would have given us our first taste at a superhero horror movie with Strange having to travel through dreams to confront Nightmare and his magic. One of the best sequences in Doctor Strange was when he was sent through various dimensions by the Ancient One -- a movie featuring Nightmare would be filled with these sequences.
15 SILVER SURFER
After the financial success of 2005’s Fantastic Four, Fox Studios did what every greedy studio executive seems to do and tries to milk the property for all its worth. One movie that would’ve come out of this series was a spin-off movie for the Silver Surfer character that was introduced in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.
Even though he would’ve been spun out of an awful movie, you’d be lying if you said you weren’t at least intrigued by what this movie could’ve been. Silver Surfer is extremely popular and he’s still yet to be in an actually good movie. Silver Surfer is extremely powerful being and has gone on some amazing adventures. Plus, his contemplative nature is ripe for drama.
14 SPIDER-MAN 4
Even Sam Raimi was very displeased with Spider-Man 3. That’s why he set out to make Spider-Man 4 the best movie in the series. Raimi never finished with the script and the project was turned into The Amazing Spider-Man. However, there is some concept art out there revealing the Vulture (played by John Malkovich) as a prominent villain, Bruce Campbell cameoing as Mysterio, and Anne Hathaway portraying Felicia Hardy.
Spider-Man 3 was derailed by studio interference and Sam Raimi’s disinterest in Venom. Therefore, it’s easy to imagine a world where Raimi is able to recapture his magic from the first two movies and make a good Spider-Man movie. Besides, John Malkovich is perfect casting for Adrian Toomes and a Bruce Campbell cameo as Mysterio sounds hilarious.
13 X-MEN ORIGINS: MAGNETO
In the early 2000s, the X-Men brand was more profitable than it had ever been. X-Men in 2000 made audiences aware of the brand and X2: X-Men United blew them away. With all of this success, Fox wanted to continue the success by looking at Magneto’s origins. Unfortunately, their other X-Men Origins movie ruined this.
We would jump at any opportunity to get a deeper look into Magneto’s backstory. The two glimpses that we got in X-Men and X-Men: Days of Future Past, shows us a past that’s intense, heavy, and extremely heartbreaking. It would be incredible to show how the Holocaust shaped this young, scared mutant into a man who would go down in infamy for his power and his message.
12 SINISTER SIX
The Amazing Spider-Man franchise hurried to set up a large cinematic universe after the success of the MCU. One of the first projects that Sony seemed to be leading towards was a Sinister Six movie.
Though Sony was only making these movies for the sake of having a franchise, we must admit that it does sound interesting to see a bunch of eclectic Spider-Man villains working together. If done correctly, every villain’s unique personality and skillsets would easily. Plus, this would’ve been before Suicide Squad came out, so the idea of a villain team-up would be very fresh.
11 WAR MACHINE
Back during Marvel’s Phase Two, they were on top of the world. Avengers had released to massive critical and commercial acclaim and the future was looking bright. Marvel could do whatever they wanted. One of the potential movies on the slate was a War Machine solo movie.
Obviously, it never materialized, but War Machine himself, Don Cheadle speculated that a solo movie might follow Rhodey going rogue when his morals clash with his government orders. Earlier this year, it was additionally revealed that Black Panther co-writer, Joe Robert Cole, had been chosen to write a script for the movie before Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 shifted focus away from the project.
10 DEACON FROST SPINOFF
The villain from the first Blade drew almost as much attention as Blade himself did. Ruthless, powerful, and charismatic, Deacon Frost was played excellently by Stephen Dorff. But this may not have been the last time Frost appeared on screen. Audience responded to Frost so well that there were plans for him to get his own spinoff movie.
Described as Scarface with vampires, the prequels were going to focus on Frost’s life before he was a vampire and how he turned from an empty, lonely soul into the deranged, angry, and powerful vampire he was destined to become. Dorff and Blade director Stephen Norrington were so interested in the idea that they were willing to drop the Deacon Frost name and pursue the idea elsewhere.
9 STUART GORDON'S IRON MAN
There’s almost no imagining a world in which Robert Downey Jr isn’t playing Iron Man. He has made the character his own over the last ten years and it’ll be years before another actor tries to do this version of Tony Stark. That being said, Iron Man has had a troubled production history and there have been numerous different visions for the project.
One of these visions belonged to Stuart Gordon. In Gordon’s take on the character, Stark would’ve been retired and reclusive, tired of the years of fighting. Stark would then be forced out of retirement by a threat too large for him to ignore. It’s interesting to imagine what that threat would have been, maybe the Mandarin, the Skrulls, or MODOK and the Cosmic Cube.
8 THE INCREDIBLE HULK/SPIDER-MAN CROSSOVER
This easily would’ve been a classic that audiences would have enjoyed this for years to come. 1978’s The Incredible Hulk enjoyed a run of remarkable popularity during its stint on television and similar crossovers with Thor and Daredevil had already been successful.
The writers for The Incredible Hulk have actually crafted some very interesting stories during their five year runtime. The best aspect, however, would’ve been the inevitable fight between Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk. Both of these shows came out during a time when special effects weren’t at their best. Seeing the Spider-Man who crawls on walls on his hands and knees go up against the spray-painted Jade Giant, would have been hilarious and memorable.
7 POWER PACK
It’s a widely known fact that Marvel fell on hard times during the ‘90s. Things were looking dark until 1998’s Blade finally gave them a successful movie. X-Men followed suit and Marvel decided that movies were the way to go. They entered into a deal with Artisan Entertainment to produce many of their properties into a combination of feature movies, television shows, and direct-to-video movies.
One of the movies that they wanted to make was about the pre-teen group of heroes: the Power Pack. The group is made up of four siblings, each with unique powers given to them by a benevolent alien being. This is one of Marvel’s lighter titles and could have been a fun adventure in the same vein as Big Hero Six.
6 IRON FIST
When X-Men came out, it finally gave Marvel a project that it could be proud of. They saw this success as a way to finally generate some money after their prolonged financial troubles in the ‘90s. Their deal with Artisan Entertainment didn't turn out to be the success that both parties were most likely hoping for, and one of these properties was a theatrical Iron Fist movie.
Maybe having an Iron Fist movie would’ve made Marvel view the property with a little more reverence. The public at large hadn’t really heard of Iron Fist before the Netflix show. But if he had already been introduced in a movie, then they may have put more care and effort into the project.
5 BLADE 4
The Blade series came out at a time when comic book movies were struggling to find their way. Wesley Snipes gave an incredible performance as the Daywalker and the first two movies set him up as a legit movie star. Unfortunately, the studio felt compelled to get involved as always and they altered the original idea of Blade: Trinity in order to bring in new characters in service of future spin-off movies.
The original idea for Blade: Trinity involved the Daywalker living in a world where vampires have taken over. There was a chance for this to be worked into a fourth movie when the King and Whistler spin-off commercial failed, but Snipes’ relationship with Goyer and the studio had already deteriorated.
There was a time when Inhumans seemed set to replace the X-Men in an MCU that didn’t have access to mutants. But instead, Inhumans became a television show which yielded an amazingly awful show.
There’s no doubt that if Kevin Feige had been in charge of this property, it would’ve been serviceable at the very least. He and Marvel Studios’ movie division have proven time and time again that they’re excellent at weaving a larger story together while allowing directors to put their own flair on the individual movies. We can definitely imagine a world in which Inhumans was made as an epic Game of Thrones-esque movie rather than a cheaply made television show trying to take advantage of the tax benefits in Hawaii.
3 THE INCREDIBLE HULK 2
Is anybody else upset about that Samuel Sterns teaser that was never picked up? Sterns was briefly mentioned in an MCU tie-in comic where Black Widow subdued him without much trouble and took him to S.H.I.E.L.D custody. But imagine if the obvious sequel bait had been picked up like originally planned.
The Incredible Hulk, while slightly underwhelming, was not a bad movie. Series have recovered from far worse. But the performances were good and the two fight scenes we got in the second and third acts were entertaining. Even the direction avoided being too generic. With some polishing, a sequel featuring the Leader as the main villain could have been good.
2 PEYTON REED'S FANTASTIC FOUR
Tim Story’s Fantastic Four is generally considered one of the poorer superhero movies. Much of that has to do with Fox wanting to make the project like an expensive B-movie aimed at children for the sole purpose of selling toys. But Peyton Reed almost got his hands on the property and would’ve gone a much different direction.
From what we’ve heard, it certainly would’ve been better than any Fantastic Four movie we’ve gotten. Reed’s vision for the movie would skipped their origin story and featured a similar tone to 2012’s The Avengers. Reed was also inspired by the battles on the street of Manhattan during the climactic “Battle of New York” in The Avengers, possibly hinting at a similar sequence in his theoretical movie.
1 JAMES CAMERON'S SPIDER-MAN
Can you believe that we almost got to see a James Cameron-directed superhero movie? In the mid-'90s, Cameron persuaded Carolco Studios to buy the rights to the character and he wrote up a treatment that saw the wall crawler battling Electro and... puberty.
According to the leaked concept art, this would’ve been a much more... unique version of Spider-Man. The treatment saw Peter spying on Mary Jane, among other truly bizarre acts by Spidey. However, as one of the kings of sci-fi and the man who made Aliens, Terminator, and Titanic, he’s earned some trust from audiences. Cameron is an incredible filmmaker and for every weird scene of puberty symbolism, there would’ve more than likely been far more awe-inspiring moments.