April 9, 2020
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Marvel movies have pretty much taken over
the world, and it’s gotten to the point that it’s actually difficult to imagine one that’s
poorly-received. But don’t worry — they’re out there. Before the MCU took off, Marvel sequels got
canceled left and right. Here are a few projects that’ll never see
the light of day. Sam Raimi’s first two Spider-Man movies may
have been undisputed classics of the genre, but Spider-Man 3 was controversial to say
the least. And sure, some loved it, some hated it — but
everyone still wanted a fourth movie to wrap up the loose ends and give that world one
final epic swinging scene. Raimi and his crew knew how high the stakes
were, so when Spider-Man 4 went into production, they dedicated themselves to ending the series
on a high note. According to Den of Geek, the standard cast
of Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst and company would have been joined by John Malkovich as
the Vulture, while leaked concept art depicts Spidey and his winged foe in some pretty incredible
aerial tangos. Spider-Man 4 also would have featured Anne
Hathaway as anti-hero Black Cat, and Raimi’s buddy Bruce Campbell was to make the ultimate
cameo as Mysterio, finally fulfilling years of fan demand. Further plot details are sparse, but since
the film was screen-testing red-headed toddlers for a key role, many also believe Peter and
MJ would have ended up having a kid. So what happened? Well, Raimi simply wasn’t willing to rush. He’d felt unsatisfied with Spider-Man 3 and
refused to cut corners, so when Sony pushed him against a deadline, he walked away from
the project. Long story short, Sony rebooted… and that
didn’t go too well, either. Eventually, Marvel rebooted the character’s
story a third time, and now Spidey hangs out with the Avengers. “So, you got detention. You screwed up. You know what you did wrong, but question
is… how are you going to make things right?” Ang Lee’s artsy, experimental Hulk film took
a heavy beating when it first premiered in 2003, but in recent years the movie has earned
a surprising degree of retroactive acclaim for at least attempting to do something radically
different with the superhero genre. Considering how weird Hulk was, it’s clear
the creators weren’t planning on establishing a conventional blockbuster franchise. However, screenwriter James Schamus has explained
that he and Lee did develop story ideas — and even a script — for the sequel that never
happened. In a 2014 lecture at a BAFTA, Schamus revealed
that Hulk 2 would have been set on a Native American reservation, featuring a radioactivity-fueled
storyline beset with deep political allegories, presumably involving the environment, displacement
and other such issues. USA Today also reported in 2003 that Schamus
was thinking of including the gamma-irradiated Hulk foes known as the Leader and Abomination
as villains. Probably the most exciting news for comic
book fans, however, was that Schamus wanted to incorporate the gray-skinned Hulk sometimes
known as “Joe Fixit,” a leaner, meaner and smarter Hulk that embodies Banner’s adolescent
angst. While Abomination and the Leader have both
since appeared on the big screen in some form or another, gray Hulk is still waiting in
the wings. Back when the MCU was in its infancy, it seemed
almost inevitable that Don Cheadle’s Colonel Jim Rhodes — a.k.a War Machine — would
probably get his own movie, especially after the actor’s successful debut in Iron Man
2. And it almost happened, too. Cheadle himself was psyched for the film,
telling Empire that the tone would’ve been darker and grittier than the Iron Man films,
with a storyline where Rhodey goes against orders on a dangerous mission and becomes
a wanted fugitive. “Why do I even talk to you guys? Everywhere else, that story kills!” “That’s the whole story?” “Yes, it’s Warmachine’s story.” “It’s very good, then.” While Rhodes going rogue sounds like a fun
enough flick, the project faded away when Shane Black’s then-upcoming Iron Man 3 decided
to take the character in a different direction. These days, the blind vigilante known as Daredevil
is best known for his critically acclaimed TV series, which combines intelligent writing
and complex characters with some of the most intense hallway fights in superhero history. Back in 2003, though, Daredevil was stuck
in a not-so-critically acclaimed Ben Affleck action movie that missed its mark in a big
way. Before the 2003 movie’s negative reputation
really sank in, writer and director Mark Stephen Johnson was pretty jazzed up about a sequel. In an interview with UGO, he expressed his
desire to adapt Frank Miller’s venerated “Born Again” storyline — in which Kingpin finds
out Matt Murdock’s secret identity, and tears his life apart — while also inserting a
darker, modernized version of the cheesy 1960s bad guy Mr. Fear. According to Moviehole, Johnson particularly
liked the concept of the “man without fear” taking on a villain who embodies fear itself. That’s not a bad idea, but Johnson’s direct
sequel ended up being replaced by the 2005 movie Elektra, which pretty much killed the
series off altogether… until Netflix came around and showed the world how cool Daredevil
can be. The Fantastic Four are one of the brightest,
most wondrous properties in the Marvel wheelhouse — so somebody had to be smoking something
pretty toxic when they decided to produce the muddled, grim-dark reboot Fant4stic, which
flamed out into a box office bomb back in 2015. Or maybe 20th Century Fox just really, really
wanted a version of Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben that could exist in the same dark, tortured
universe as their more popular X-Men franchise. Never mind the fact that a celebrity quartet
who cheerfully traverses alternate dimensions has little reason to crossover with an oppressed
squad of mutant warriors fighting for survival: Fox wanted it to happen, and they were going
to make it happen. Before Fant4stic’s release, X-Men director
Bryan Singer even teased that plans for the crossover film were “in play,” and hinted
that it would somehow involve time travel. After Fant4stic crashed and burned, these
discussions went quiet. No surprise there. Before the less-than-satisfactory reaction
to The Amazing Spider-Man 2 kerplunked Sony’s web-headed reboot series, the studio had huge
plans for a Spider-Man cinematic universe — which is why ASM2 got weighed down by
so much world-building. The centerpiece of their future efforts would
have been the trilogy-capping Amazing Spider-Man 3, which was to follow up on Peter’s life
after the death of Gwen Stacy. That’s where things get a little weird weird. In an interview with IGN, actor Denis Leary
said the third movie would have featured Peter downing some spooky sci-fi formula which “regenerates”
all of his dead loved ones — presumably including Gwen, Uncle Ben, and Peter’s parents. Fans have speculated that this might have
been some cinematic re-imagining of the infamous Clone Saga — or even just a dream sequence
— but nobody’s really sure. As far as villains go, Harry Osborn actor
Dane DeHaan was contracted to return, with Chris Cooper’s Norman Osborn also likely
to appear, off the back of a scene cut from ASM2 in which Norman’s head is severed and
cryogenically frozen. Say what you will about Tim Story’s Fantastic
Four movies, but they actually did a pretty good job with the Silver Surfer. From the beginning, 20th Century Fox intended
to follow up the shimmering alien’s debut in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
with his own solo flick. They even hired Babylon 5 creator J. Michael
Straczynski to write a script, with the film picking up moments after the end of the previous
movie, after the Surfer had just defied Galactus to save Earth. Realizing that he’d angered his master by
reneging on the whole “herald for the world eater” deal, the Surfer would race back to
his homeworld, Zenn-La, to save it from Galactus’ unholy appetite. According to Straczynski, the movie would
also have flashed back to Norrin Radd’s origin story, telling his tale as a more serious,
adult story. Unfortunately, even though Straczynski and
actor Doug Jones were game to move forward, the Fantastic Four sequel’s reception wasn’t
quite so fantastic — so the project was fired into space. In retrospect, it’s a little weird that the
2009 prequel X-Men Origins: Wolverine wasn’t simply titled “Wolverine”, but at the time,
Fox wanted to launch a whole series of X-prequels. According to David Goyer, the plan was for
him to write and direct a follow-up titled X-Men Origins: Magneto, a haunting depiction
of how the young Jewish mutant survived the Nazi concentration camps. As the film came together, 20th Century Fox
hit the pause button, wanting to wait and see how their Wolverine prequel did before
calling action. As it happens, X-Men Origins: Wolverine became
something of a setback for the series, so Goyer’s movie never happened. Later on, as X-Men producer Lauren Shuler
Donner pointed out, a huge amount of Magneto’s origin story ended up sliding into X-Men:
First Class instead, rendering the original concept somewhat pointless. “I prefer… Magneto.” Still, if there’s any Marvel “villain” that
could hold their own in a solo film, it’s definitely him. Another thread that those Amazing Spider-Man
movies left dangling was the setup for the Sinister Six, the ultimate team of Spider-baddies
now likely destined for a future MCU Spidey movie. While the end of ASM2 hinted that the Six
were going to roll up in part three, the reality is that Sony was setting them up for their
own Sinister Six movie, with Cabin in the Woods maestro Drew Goddard at the helm. As conceived, Sinister Six was going to be
a little like the movie Suicide Squad eventually became. The bad guys would have been the protagonists,
although Goddard had no intentions of watering down their evilness. According to SyFy, leaked details suggested
that the movie would’ve seen the Sinister Six taking on a colossal, cosmic monster named
Gog, and that they’d travel down to the Savage Land, a mysterious dinosaur-filled
hot spot in Antarctica. The team’s lineup included Spidey’s archenemy,
Doctor Octopus — with Goddard hoping to see Matt Damon in the role — as well as
Black Cat, Mysterio, the Vulture, and Tom Hardy as the Sandman. The final member of the Sinister Six would
have been Spider-Man himself, presumably blackmailed somehow into joining the team. The movie was to mostly focus on the dynamic
between Spidey and Ock, as they gradually turn from allies into lifelong foes. While Stephen Norrington’s 1998 vampire flick
Blade may have helped establish the struggling superhero genre and put its title character
on the map, it’s hard to imagine anyone thinking there had to be a prequel movie centered all
around the movie’s chief bad guy, Deacon Frost… except for Norrington himself, apparently,
and Frost actor Stephen Dorff. A full decade after Blade was released, the
duo were discussing the potential of a Deacon Frost movie. Stranger still, Dorff has since revealed that
he and Norrington both wanted to make an entire vampire trilogy based around Frost, chronicling
the character’s origins with a Scarface-like tone. But in an interview with io9, Dorff also explained
that neither of them had much interest in doing a version tied to the Marvel Cinematic
Universe — so this project is more than likely dead and buried. Though it took years of dedication and a little
bit of studio wrangling for Ryan Reynolds to finally bring a comic book-accurate Deadpool
to life, his efforts have since paid off in spades. The Deadpool films have become smash hits,
turning their wisecracking anti-hero into a pop culture icon. After Deadpool 2 introduced the characters
of Cable and Domino to great aplomb, it seemed that the path was clear for a spin-off featuring
the X-Force. Although a movie based around the mutant strike
squad has muddled around in development hell for years, with directors Jeff Wadlow and
Joe Carnahan both attached at various points, the latest news was that Drew Goddard had
taken the reigns. Until Disney came along, that is. “Oh my God, I’m gonna throw up in my mask…
bleugh.” The exact details regarding Disney’s takeover
of Fox still need to be ironed out, but so far it looks like X-Force is an early casualty
— since the X-Universe is more than likely about to be rebooted. Deadpool and Cable co-creator Rob Liefeld
even tweeted a mini-eulogy for it, saying: “Pour one out for ol’ X-Force. Victim of the merger. $800 million grosser easy.” In other words, don’t get your hopes up. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Grunge videos about the MCU
are coming soon. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the
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Tony wyaad