The Superhero Films That Were Left Out to Rot Instead of Becoming Blockbuster Hits
Recently, there was an article about James Cameron’s Spider-Man. James Cameron. A much lauded director associated with your and your dad’s favorite films, including but not limited to Terminator 2: Judgment Day, The Abyss, and Titanic. Back in the 90s, Spider-Man was on his plate too. It sounded correct in practice, but it never happened for whatever legal reasons. And also maybe because the movie was insane. There was a complete origin story which includes a scene containing Peter waking up with the blankets stuck to him by a sticky, white mass, (a glob of webbing, allegedly) the plot AFTER that was out of control, there were too many villains, it was super violent, and Arnold Schwarzenegger was supposed to be Doctor Octopus.
In the scriptment I read a while back, I distinctly remember two other questionable scenes. One scene early where Peter uses his new found powers to sneak to Mary Jane’s house and peep on her undressing and getting into bed, and the other involving some animalistic-mating-dance/webbing-as-bondage-ties sex scene on the Brooklyn Bridge. Class act, Pete. This got me thinking about what other ridiculous movies almost happened or did happen, and this is is the cream of the crap.
The Captain America movie that went straight to video in 1990. In all the excitement about Captain America: Civil War that is coming out next year, I found a copy somebody got me for my birthday when I was a child. It was on VHS. I don’t ever remember being really into comics as a youngin’, so I’m not sure why I received it. To further that point, the movie is complete trash. I probably wasn’t reading the Marxist theory or pondering existentialism when I got the movie, but even I knew it was atrociously vacuous. I’ll summarize the entirety of it with this picture. I was imaginative and playful like most, but even this was too much for me.
With all the incarnations of Superman from good ol’ Christopher Reeve to the currently dashing Henry Cavill, none have been more exciting sounding than the powerhouse Nicholas Cage- DIRECTED BY TIM BURTON. Yep, the same guy who did Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands, Frankenweenie and that semi-awful remake Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was on board to direct the Man of Steel. I know what you’re thinking- he also did Batman and it was spot on (more on this later). But if you even just google Tim Burton’s Superman, you’ll see how bat-shit crazy this was going to look. The costume was metallic, silvery, and featured light-up parts that echoed deep sea creature bioluminescence. Sounds like Superman to me.
All this was happening in 1997, so the saving grace was where Cage was at the time. He had just come out with “The Rock” the year prior, and ’97 brought about “Con Air” and “Face/Off”. Those three movies were fucking incredible and jammed in every single thing I enjoyed as a nine-year old. They are still completely relevant in my life now. I’ll go on record and say they’re still amazing movies. I probably would have watched the shit out of this crazy Superman movie just because Cage was slaughtering it in the action hero game of my youth.
Everyone is at least familiar with the Alien movie series, the second part “Aliens” directed by that James Cameron fella mentioned above. What some people might not know is that instead of Sigourney Weaver playing the perenially badass Ellen Ripley, the one and only Meryl Streep was also in the running. For the uninitiated, Streep was in “Music of the Heart”. Or if you haven’t seen that, she was also in the remake of “The Manchurian Candidate”. OR more recently, she was fashion editor/dream destroyer/dictator Miranda Priestly in “The Devil Wears Prada”. You had to have seen that. So good. Alien came out in 1978 when The Deer Hunter and Manhattan were out or about to come out. If you’re not familiar, these were two of Streep’s most preeminent early films as a starring actress. It sounds weird all around, but when if I saw Miranda Priestly taking on some aliens in that power loader, there’s no chance they would have even put up a fight. Miranda Priestly could have been the savior of the human race.
Before Tim Burton helmed the pretty dark and all around great Batman movie mentioned above starring Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, and Kim Basinger, there was a proposition to go the opposite way. The Adam West/ Burt Ward WHAM PUNCH SMACK SHARK REPELLENT BAT SPRAY HAHA FUN kind of way. The Bill Murray as Batman/ Eddie Murphy as Robin kind of way. That almost happened. I’m not going to say it probably would have been a flop because they were both hilarious guys on top of their game and I could barely formulate coherent thoughts as a one year old much less care about the economic success of a film franchise, but there’s a chance we wouldn’t have the quintessential Batman movies of recent.
There are tons more of these what-ifs, including Tom Cruise as Iron Man/Tony Stark and Jim from The Office as Captain America (could you imagine Jim being super buff and super American?), but these few were real standouts for me.