It seems like there are multitudes of comic book movies hitting theaters every year, but just like in any genre of filmmaking, there are a ton of movies in production and not all of them get made. For every movie that hits theaters, there are a dozen or more that went into development but never saw the light of day when it comes to a theatrical release.
In the realm of comic book movies, a brighter light shines on the films that failed to see the light of day because excited fans anxiously awaited the chance to see their favorite characters appear on the screens. Some of these failed movies even had stories more impressive than the films that ended up hitting theaters in their place. Here is a look at 10 comic book movies that were abandoned by Hollywood.
10 SPIDER-MAN 4
Sam Raimi was not planning on leaving the Spider-Man franchise after just three movies. However, things went bad on Spider-Man 3 and that marked the end for Raimi and Tobey Maguire anyway. Raimi wanted nothing to do with Venom in that movie, and despite Spider-Man 2 ranking as one of the best superhero movies of all-time at that period, the studio interfered too much for his liking.
However, Raimi had plans for Spider-Man 4 -- plans for which Sony showed no faith. See, Raimi wanted Spider-Man to battle The Vulture in that third movie, but Sony said that villain would never sell and the two sides moved on. Years later, Marvel took over and brought in The Vulture for Spider-Man: Homecoming.
9 X-MEN ORIGINS: MAGNETO
When Fox decided to make X-Men Origins: Wolverine, it was not supposed to be a one-off movie or the first in a Wolverine trilogy -- although both of those cases ended up true in this situation. No, Fox wanted to break off from the X-Men team movies and create a series of solo hero movies for each of their main characters.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine was the first of these movies, and the next in the line was supposed to be X-Men Origins: Magneto. However, critics panned the Wolverine movie, and it was considered a box office failure as well, dooming any further Origin movies.
8 SUPERMAN: FLYBY
There have been a ton of movies that were in some form of development concerning Superman. Two of these movies that ended up abandoned by studios became the stuff of legends. The first on this list is Superman: Flyby.
In 2002, J.J. Abrams was looking at starting a new movie franchise, and he eyed Superman. Warner Bros. commissioned two different Superman movies at the time, and the studio made neither film (the second was a Batman vs. Superman movie with a script by Andrew Kevin Walker). Abrams reimagined everything about Superman, similar to when he took on Star Trek, and Warner Bros. chose to go to Bryan Singer instead to create a sequel to Superman II.
7 ARONOFSKY'S BATMAN
Darren Aronofsky is one of indie cinema's most polarizing and brilliant filmmakers. He creates films that force the viewers to question everything, and he leaves no easy answers in his movies. It seems bizarre that the man who directed Pi, Requiem for a Dream, and The Fountain would consider a comic book movie.
Then again, he also directed the quite brilliant professional wrestling movie The Wrestler, so it is an intriguing consideration. The film was Batman: Year One with Aronofsky directing based on a script by comic book author Frank Miller. Aronofsky even approached Christian Bale to star as Batman before leaving the project in 2002.
6 JUSTICE LEAGUE: MORTAL
Looking at what George Miller did with Mad Max: Fury Road, it is mind-boggling to consider what he could have done with a superhero movie. In 2007, he got the chance when he was hired to direct a DC Comics movie called Justice League: Mortal. He even cast his film with Armie Hammer as Batman, Adam Brody as Flash, Common as Green Lantern, and more. Jay Baruchel signed on as the villain Maxwell Lord.
Warner Bros. got cold feet. They put the movie on hold in 2008 and the options lapsed for the cast. They wanted to move production from Australia to Canada, which didn't make Miller happy. Then the writers strike happened, and the entire movie fell apart.
5 WES CRAVEN'S DOCTOR STRANGE
Wes Craven made a comic book movie with Swamp Thing back in the day, but he also almost made a movie for Marvel Comics as well. This movie could have been fascinating, as when Doctor Strange finally came out under the MCU, Marvel hired a horror director in Scott Derrickson, and that almost happened as well in the '90s.
Wes Craven already made his name in horror thanks to the Nightmare on Elm Street series and rebounded with the Scream franchise as well. After the movie Doctor Mordrid came out in 1992, Marvel handed the reigns to Craven to write and direct the film, but the studio (Savoy Pictures) moved on.
4 HELLBOY III
When Hellboy came and went in 2019 to lackluster reviews and horrible box office numbers, there were several reasons given for its failure. Outside of the bad reviews, there were also still bad feelings about the fact that Hellboy came back with a reboot instead of finishing off Guillermo Del Toro and Ron Perlman's planned trilogy.
The problem here is that Hellboy creator Mike Mignola was never on the same page as Del Toro when it came to his characters, and he pushed things until Del Toro finally threw in the towel and gave up on the franchise. This abandonment was discouraging for fans of the first two Hellboy movies since both Del Toro and Perlman talked about the swan song they never got to film.
3 JOSS WHEDON'S WONDER WOMAN
When Joss Whedon made his name thanks to the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, he earned the reputation as a television creator who knew how to bring powerful female heroes to life in a realistic way despite supernatural situations. That seemed to make him perfect for the Wonder Woman movie Warner Bros. wanted.
Joss Whedon wrote a Wonder Woman screenplay in the early 2000s and was trying to get the DC hero on the big screen. However, the studio ended up abandoning the project until over a decade later when Patty Jenkins took on the challenge and created the best movie in the DCEU.
2 SUPERMAN LIVES
The second Superman movie on this list is one of the most infamous superhero comic book movies a studio abandoned despite some major names working on it. Kevin Smith was writing the movie. Tim Burton signed on to direct the film. Nicolas Cage signed on to portray Superman.
Maybe that last one is why the thought of this movie is so ludicrous. Superman Lives tells the story of the Death of Superman, which was still in memory in the '90s when the script was in the works. As a matter of fact, the Shaquille O'Neal movie Steel was supposed to be a spinoff from this movie. To realize that Steel -- one of the worst superhero movies of all time -- reached theaters and the studio abandoned Superman Lives should tell fans everything they need to know.
1 DEL TORO'S JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK
Guillermo Del Toro can't seem to catch a break. He directed two Hellboy movies, but the studio wouldn't let him finish his trilogy despite his plans to give Hellboy a perfect swan song. After this, Del Toro tried to return to comic books with a DC Comics property that seemed perfect for him -- Justice League Dark.
Everything about Justice League Dark screams out for a filmmaker like del Toro to create with the mysticism and horror elements it contains. Del Toro explained that he had a completed Justice League Dark script and had spent a lot of time preparing the movie before the studio abandoned it and he left the project.