Do you think it would be fun to be a screenwriter? You get to ideally write scripts in the comfort of your own home and as long as you get results, it may be an incredibly creative and respected career. While it’s not easy to get your big break, it is clear that it also has the potential to be an incredibly lucrative career.
Plus, what if you got the chance to work on a Disney film or superhero film? It would be the dream come true for some of these writers to get to write, say, a new Superman movie. Now just imagine how devastating it would be to have the rug get pulled out from under you and something you’ve worked on for years is now just a paperweight.
Just because Disney and superhero movies are bigger now than ever before and you may think they can often do no wrong, doesn’t mean there aren’t some really intriguing ideas from their past that would definitely have impacted the world of cinema.
You may love Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, but did you know that in 1999 it was Quentin Tarantino and Tom Cruise that were attached to the project? Wonder Woman may be coming out in 2017, but be prepared to also learn who was originally attached to the project several years ago. Can you also imagine the DC Universe with David Bowie in it? It almost happened!
In terms of Disney, Toy Story 3 may have stolen your heart, but we’ve also got information on the planned version that never saw the light of day and canceled films from Pixar that could have been just as memorable as any other classic.
You’ll even get insight on why Disney kills so many parents when you learn about the most frustrating employee experience imaginable on the almost-prequel Dwarfs.
Have a friend that loves superheroes or Disney? Feel free to share the list on social media!
8. Superman: Flyby – With J.J. Abrams and Henry Cavill
When it comes to not being afraid to tackle iconic franchises, there may not be a more confident man than J.J. Abrams. He’s tackled Star Trek, Star Wars and as you’re about to read, he damn near almost took on Superman as well.
It was between 2002 and 2004 that Abrams was chosen to write the script on a movie for Warner Brothers. Abrams wanted to have Superman die and then get resurrected in the film, which would also see him battle foes from his Kryptonian family tree. Fittingly, it would also include Lex Luthor as an alien-obsessed government agent. The biggest adjustment would have been the creative decision to leave Superman’s home world of Krypton intact, with a cliff-hanger ending of Superman returning back home.
Unfortunately for our sake, the studio was unable to agree on casting for many of the primary characters, as well as other key decisions like where to shoot the movie. One thing they did agree on was that Henry Cavill would be a tremendous option as the lead, as you can see from the above photo when he was brought in for testing.
Bryan Singer, who had recently shown confidence in the superhero genre with X-Men 1 and X-Men 2 then pitched his own idea and won over the studio. As you may know, that movie became Superman Returns (yuck).
7. Wonder Woman – With Joss Whedon and Cobie Smulders
We may be getting a Wonder Woman movie coming out in 2017, and to be honest, it looks pretty good, but we also almost had one back in the mid-2000s and you tell us if you’d be into it.
First off, it would have seen Joss Whedon as one of the main writers and director. You may recognize him for his role in directing The Avengers movie, but at the time he had just been coming off Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the movie Serenity. Funnily enough, Alyson Hannigan starred in Buffy and also appeared in How I Met Your Mother, and Cobie Smulders, the woman who was picked to play Wonder Woman, also appeared in HIMYM. You can imagine they must have traded phone numbers, as Smulders ended up appearing in The Avengers.
6. Spider-Man 4 – With John Malkovich And Anne Hathaway
Now don’t get me wrong, Spider-Man 3 was awful. I remember just having my hopes and dreams get absolutely shattered when I saw it in theaters as I could not understand what they were doing to some of my favorite characters. But the movie still made money, and as a result, you may not be surprised to hear that there was a 4th, and even 5th and 6thSpider-Man that had been talked about. The 4th one was tentatively titled Spider-Man 4: The Mysterious Vulture with John Malkovich being tapped to potentially play the lead villain. Anne Hathaway was also being considered to play Vulturess but talks fell through over contract negotiations.
When talking about the experiences, Raimi said “I was very unhappy with Spider-Man 3, and I wanted to make Spider-Man 4 to end on a very high note, the best Spider-Man of them all. But I couldn’t get the script together in time, due to my own failings, and I said to Sony, ‘I don’t want to make a movie that is less than great, so I think we shouldn’t make this picture. Go ahead with your reboot, which you’ve been planning anyway.'”
Given that critics responded favorably to Andrew Garfield’s rendition of the character, you can understand why Sony was also happy to move on from Raimi.
5. Iron Man – With Tarantino and Tom Cruise
There might not be a more influential movie to ever come out, than the first Iron Man. Think about it, the movie set off an entire movie franchise that has grossed billions of dollars and is still going strong. Now just imagine if there was an Iron Man movie made back in 1999, and to make it even weirder, Quentin Tarantino was being selected to write and direct the movie.
You want the movie to seem even weirder? How about the fact that they had already cast Tom Cruise to take on the role of Tony Stark!
Now to be fair, I can kind of see the sleek egotistical look of Cruise pulling it off, but can you really picture anyone else but RDJ in the suit? Tarantino stepped away from the project after poor reception to his movie Jackie Brown and an indecisive Fox studio that would eventually sell away the rights to the character (oops). To be fair, you can imagine Tarantino would have loved to make a more R-Rated version of the troubled superhero.
4. X-Men Origins: Magneto – Made By Writer Of Batman Begins
To be fair, we did end up kind of seeing this movie play out in X-Men: First Class. But prior to that movie came X-Men Origins: Wolverine in 2009. The movie made over $300 million at the box office, but critics (and most fans if we’re being honest) hated the movie. As a result of the poor reaction and developmental issues, X-Men Origins: Magneto was scrapped. The movie would not have featured Patrick Stewart or Ian McKellen, but you can’t imagine they would have cast someone as talented as Michael Fassbender.
When X-Men: First Class started coming together, a lot of the Magneto script was taken and adapted into the final project, so at least it wasn’t all a waste. David Goyer, who wrote Batman Begins and Batman V Superman (among with other huge projects) was attached to write and potentially direct the project. When he was first talking about it, Goyer said “The storyline will heavily involve Professor X, the wheelchair-using X-Men leader. That character was a soldier in the allied force that liberated the concentration camps. The professor meets Magneto after the war and while they bond over the realization that they are alike in their special powers, their differences soon turn them into enemies.”
Perhaps fans shouldn’t have been too shocked at the cancellation, as producer Lauren Donner said that Magneto was pretty low on the priority list of characters they needed to re-visit, saying “I think, is at the back of the queue. Maybe it’ll get made in five years – who knows?”
3. Catwoman – Would Have Been First Solo Catwoman Film
When you think Catwoman, it can be only natural to immediately think of the awful Halle Berry adaptation that came out in 2004, but that would mean you’re ignoring Michelle Pfeiffer’s rendition of the character from the early 90s. She may have been a lot more memorable if the 90s solo movie got made as it was supposed to. In fact, Pfieffer was held out of Batman Forever because of her own upcoming movie.
Daniel Waters, who wrote the script for the unmade movie said that Catwoman would wake up with bullet holes (from the end of Batman Returns) and has amnesia but eventually ends up at a resort run by superheroes. Waters said the movie would have poked fun at male superheroes, and then in typical movie twist, the superheroes running the resort would turn out to be villains and she would have to become Catwoman to save the day.
Honestly, it doesn’t sound the best, but maybe the fact that Tim Burton was hired to direct the movie would give you more faith. After the movie stalled for years, Ashley Judd replaced Pfeiffer as the lead, but that was still not enough to get the studio excited to make the movie.
2. Green Lantern – With Triumph The Insult Comic Dog and Jack Black
When you consider how gung-ho DC Comics is trying to be about the new Justice League movie, you better believe they wish they were able to add a convincing Green Lantern to the mix.
Ryan Reynolds was supposed to have a three-picture deal as Hal Jordon, but because the movie was awful, that clearly never came to fruition. Thankfully, it did allow him to go and play Deadpool.
The more intriguing tidbit comes from the rumor that before Reynolds, JACK BLACK was the most likely actor to step into the Green Lantern suit. It would have been a much different role as the script was written by Robert Smigel who you’ll best recognize as Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.
Black said the script was absolutely hilarious and he was super on board to do it, but “[Movie studios] were making zillions of dollars with all their other superhero movies — they didn’t want to mess with that formula.”
1. Superman and Batman – With Nicolas Cage and Bill Murray
You tell me which of these two scenarios would have been weirder to see. The first is Bill Murray suiting up as The Dark Knight. It nearly happened in 1983 when the success of Ghostbusters meant Murray and Ivan Reitman (his co-star) were hot commodities. Reitman was looked at as the director, and alongside Murray as Batman, it would have featured David Bowie as The Joker.
The second image may be a lot more famous to you, as it features Nicolas Cage in 1998 with some awful long hair in a pre-production picture for the potential movie Superman Lives. Holly Payne, who was one of the potential producers, said that Cage was outstanding as Superman, explaining “Once Nicolas Cage took over as Superman, I really started to love that character, ‘He became more human to me. He wasn’t like a weird god. I could empathize with his character.’ I’m dead serious! That’s what would’ve happened.” Payne even hypothesized that he would have been bigger than RDJ as Iron Man.
Burton was also attached to direct the movie that was also rumored to include polar bears and giant spiders, but also Brainiac and Doomsday. Talk about a mixed bag. The project had a few rewrites, but eventually was scrapped entirely.
7. 7 Unmade Disney Sequels
Are you ready for a ‘lighting round’ of sorts? (I AM SO GOOD AT LIGHTENING ROUNDS, SCREAMS MONICA.) We’re going to fire off a bunch of potential Disney sequels (most that would have been direct to video: DTV) that never ended up coming together.
Hercules 2 – The Trojan War: Hercules would have been living with Megara in Athens and their daughter, but their friend Helen was captured by Paris of Troy. Hercules would then go out to war with the Greek army to track her down. I would have also loved to see this.
Mulan 3 – Little is known about this except that it was a planned to be DTV.
Jungle Book 3 – Ideas for the movie included Baloo and Shere Khan being captured and sold to a Russian circus, requiring Mowgli, Shanti, Ranjan and Bagheera to try and save them. You’d also see a positive change in personality for Shere Khan.
DuckTales (Longer Series) – Unfortunately these got shelved because DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp was unsuccessful. Several movies were potentially planned that could have had theatrical runs, and personally, I loved DuckTales.
Chip ‘ Dale Rescue Rangers: The DuckTales failure killed this animated potential feature as well. Not a traditional “sequel” as much as a spin-off, but we’ll let it slide.
Dumbo 2 – You can see a trailer on the 60th Anniversary Edition of Dumbo.
6. Newt – Cancelled Partially Because Of Inside Out
When it comes to studios that have a pretty fantastic track record, is there really anyone out there that can touch Pixar? Responsible for countless childhood (…and adult) memories, Pixar could have captivated your attention again back in 2012 with the movie Newt, but as you can guess because of its placement on this list, it got canceled.
The movie was set around the last remaining male and female blue-footed newts who are forced together to save the species, but cannot stand each other. As further described by Disney’s press release on the movie, “Newt and Brooke embark on a perilous, unpredictable adventure and discover that finding a mate never goes as planned, even when you only have one choice. Love, it turns out, is not a science.”
The movie got bounced around a few times, but the release of the movie Rio by 20th Century Fox which had a similar premise also potentially hurt the film’s chance of being made. In 2014 the movie was given to Pete Docter, who had directed Monsters, Inc. and Up. Docter said he would look at the script, but admitted he had an even better idea. I bet you won’t disagree with him, as the next movie he put his attention to was the phenomenal Inside Out.
Newt may still see the light of day in the future, but I bet you’d be much more excited for Inside Out 2 (…electric boogaloo?).
5. The Adventures Of Pinocchio – With Robert Downey Jr. As Geppetto
With a list that was full of movies that probably crushed your hopes of potentially ever seeing them, why not include one that looked like it was going nowhere, but seems to be getting some fresh legs. Back in 2012, Tim Burton was set to potentially direct a live-action version of The Adventures Of Pinocchio. Convinced yet? How about the fact that Robert Downey Jr. was linked to play Geppetto who was going to go off searching to find Pinocchio after he goes missing.
Burton passed on the project to make Big Eyes and the directorial helm was passed on to Ben Stiller (seriously). The movie yet again got scrapped, but fans got more optimistic when in 2015, Paul Thomas Anderson was chosen to both direct and write the film.
Anderson has since left the project, but his script appears to be sticking around and it still includes RDJ. Now Ron Howard has seemingly picked up the directing chair and the movie may be coming out in the reasonably near future. With the recent influx of live-action Disney movies, you can imagine it was only a matter of time before Pinocchio got done and at least now you know the project will almost be guaranteed to include RDJ!
4. Roger Rabbit 2 – Had A Canceled Prequel AND Sequel
If you can give Roger Rabbit one piece of credit, it’s that the sequel definitely seems to have had several attempts at life. Originally the plan was to go with Who Discovered Roger Rabbit in 1990 and it was to be a prequel to Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The movie would have also been set during WW2. Jessica was going to end up getting kidnapped by Nazis and forced into their propaganda ads, leading Roger to track her down. In the process, we also meet Roger’s birth mother and father, who would have been Bugs Bunny.
It was reported that a more faithful sequel to the project, Where Is Roger Rabbit? was canceled in 1997, but other reports talk of the project getting green-lit around 2000 and then getting subsequently canceled. The movie was going to feature Roger and Baby Herman driving to Hollywood to search for Roger’s mother. At the time, Rob Minkoff, who had directed Lion King, was attached. Minkoff said in an interview that after working on the project for a year, the studio said it wouldn’t work and it got shelved. Oof, let’s hope Minkoff at least got paid well for that year of his life.
3. Toy Story 3 – Buzz Was Getting Recalled To Taiwan
Many of the movies on this list we are sure you would love to see, but when you consider how fantastic and well-received the final version of Toy Story 3 was, you may be jumping for joy to find out the original version of the story got scrapped. The movie originally was going to center around Buzz who was sent to Taiwan where he was going to get fixed. As a result, the toys start Googling around (…not literally) and find out that all Buzz toys are getting recalled. The toys (Woody, Rex, Slinky, Potato Head, Hamm, Jessie, and Bullseye) would then track down Buzz, who would be having his own adventures with other recalled toys.
However when Disney acquired Pixar, and Ed Catmull became the new President of Pixar and Disney Animation, one of his first moves was to cancel all production on Toy Story 3. At the time, they mentioned how “Sequels should only be made if there is a really great story that demands it, and should be the domain of those who created the original film.”
The original Toy Story 3 would have come out in 2008, roughly 2 years before the finished 3rd entry hit theaters and stole our hearts. When the script was being created for the finished product, the people involved said that they refused to read the potential option. “Not out of spite, but we wanted to start fresh, and not be influenced by what they’d done. We didn’t look at any of the work they’d done. We really didn’t want to know anything about it.”
2. Yellow Submarine – It Caused A Studio To Get Shut Down
In 1968 there was a movie released titled Yellow Submarine that was, as you can guess, inspired by The Beatles. The movie was incredibly well-received (like 96% on Rotten Tomatoes kind of good), which may have made it an unusual, but perhaps not shocking choice for a Disney remake in 2009. Like many movies on this list, the cast list was set for the movie and most notably was going to star Cary Elwes (who you may know from The Princess Bride…or Saw) as George Harrison.
The movie was going to use 3D computer animation, but also performance capture to create the finished product. The performance capture element was integral, as director Robert Zemeckis had previously used the technique on Beowulf, The Polar Express, and A Christmas Carol.
Sadly for Zemeckis, Disney was unsatisfied with the finished look and the poor result of A Christmas Carol and that, combined with a disappointing opening from another one of their films, Mars Needs Moms, caused the movie to get canceled. To add salt to the wound, Disney also shut down Zemeckis’s digital studio, ImageMovers Digital.
1. Dwarfs – They Wanted To Invent, and Kill, Dopey’s Mom
You’ve reached number one, so get ready for one of the most frustrating stories an employee must ever have had to experience; while also learning all about a prequel that would have been amazing.
As you know, Disney is a gigantic company, and one of their smaller divisions was DisneyToons which had the goal of trying to expand on the Disney universe by creating strong sequels for Disney’s beloved supporting characters. The movies would often be direct-to-video and cheaper to make as a result. Cinderella and Lady & The Tramp were two examples of movies that received this treatment.
One movie that never took off, unfortunately, was Dwarfs, which, as you may have guessed, was going to be a prequel to Snow White. This was definitely touching on dangerous ground, as Walt Disney (the man) was strict about no sequels, and Snow White was the very first film he made. In fact, in 2005, Disney even pulled an April Fool’s Prank saying Snow White and the Eight Dwarf was coming.
But that same year, the prequel was well underway at DisneyToon. An idea was pitched that would include the dwarfs trapping the villain in the Magic Mirror, but the studio turned it down.
Then came an idea by Mike Disa for The Seven Dwarfs that is honestly so elaborate, I’d rather let them describe it:
“To begin with, Dopey and Grumpy [will be] living in a charming village of dwarfs. Through a series of ‘accidents’ – later revealed as intentional acts. Dopey and Grumpy are forced to go on a quest together into the Old Lands. Throughout their journey, they meet the other dwarfs, each of whom is drawn into the quest for reasons of his own.
Hunted by an evil wizard, the dwarfs are aided by the beautiful young Narcissa, whom they eventually care for and love just as they will Snow White someday. But unlike Miss White, Narcissa gradually shows signs of a dark side.
Disney princesses usually make all the right decisions; by contrast, Narcissa makes all the wrong decisions. Still, the dwarfs believe she has a good heart as their adventures lead them to the ancient city of Dwarfenholme.
But in a third-act twist, the dwarfs discover the wizard is actually Narcissa’s father – he and Narcissa have been using the dwarfs to access the Olden Dwarf’s ancient magical power. Narcissa double-crosses her father, leading to his enslavement inside the Magic Mirror. With the Olden Dwarf’s magic, she then turns on her seven companions. Dopey heroically sacrifices himself to rescue his new band of friends. But the dwarfs, with Grumpy at the forefront, are able to save Dopey and escape, immune to Narcissa’s magic. Nonetheless, Narcissa takes the throne from Snow White’s father – seen in Snow White as a skeleton in her dungeon – and begins her reign as the Evil Queen, with the damned soul of her own father forever encased in the Magic Mirror as her slave.”
Everyone was super stoked until developmental executives started stepping in and asking if instead the movie should be set a thousand years after Snow White, which Disa said could be a nice idea, but would be a completely different movie. The executive responded asking what if they made the movie with completely new characters? I am sure Disa had to work hard to not slam his head on the desk.
Disney planned three computer animated sequels to Dwarfs, but in 2006, Disney bought Pixar Animation and many of the DisneyToon projects were canceled. Disa admitted that when he first pitched it to John Lasseter (one of the new head guys), he was a fan but needed to see more before they could sign off on it.
The movie continued to get altered, including the outrageous request that Dopey needed to speak at the beginning of the movie. When Disa argued the point, saying Dopey had always been a beloved silent character who Walt himself said could talk (just chose not to), an executive said that Dopey should witness some emotional tragedy and that’s why he should stop talking. The executive literally suggested Dopey watch one of his parents die (preferably the mom)…guess we know why Disney kills every parent.
Disa eventually responded, “You’re out of your [expletive] mind! I am not walking into John Lasseter’s office and pitching him The Dopey’s Too Emotionally-Scarred To Talk Movie!”
After a few more meetings when it became clear they were not changing their mind, Disa gave his one month’s notice and quit the company with his final words to the company being “With love, I told them, ‘I really hope the film goes well. There are a lot of really talented people working on it. I’m sorry, but I creatively think this is a bad idea. But I hope I’m wrong.’”
One month after Disa quit, the idea of the scarred Dopey was pitched to Lasseter, who canceled the project immediately.