We're in an unparalleled time for quality comics coming out in America from the super-hero mainstream to independent publishers and beyond. But with the smorgasbord of books coming out every week, it's tougher than ever to find a blockbuster. But for perennial #2 publisher DC Comics who made it a stated goal last year to beat Marvel Comics, they might have a comic book goldmine in their midst.
DC has a long history of big screen adaptations and until Marvel's recent string of hits, DC was the unparalleled chief figure in comics-to-film adaptations. But in the push to turn DC's heroes to the big screen, there have been gems that never made it past the script page: Joss Whedon's Wonder Woman, J.J. Abrams' Superman: Flyby, and William Goldman's Shazam!. For one reason or another they were never made, but since the studios paid the writers for them… don't they own them?
Much in the same way that Dynamite Entertainment adapted Kevin Smith's unfilmed Green Hornet script to become the cornerstone of their line of Green Hornet comics, what if DC created a new line of books similar to the dead-end All-Star imprint for standalone stories like this? Sure some work would need to be done to tailor these film scripts to the strengths of comic books, but it'd be a small price to pay to see these visions — and these epic storytellers — telling the stories of DC's finest. Here's a rundown of the top contenders:
Superman: Flyby by J.J. Abrams (2002)
This story by the Super 8 writer/director gave an updated origin for the Man of Steel, spending a quarter of the film on Krypton in the midst of a civil war. After Superman's father Jor-El is sentenced to prison by his corrupt brother, he sends his infant son to Earth. On Earth, this Kryptonian grows up as normal as he can and gets entangled with a reporter named Lois Lane who is working on a story about a government agent obsessed with UFO phenomena named Lex Luthor. The script goes on to have three other refugees from Krypton come to Earth, and then the high-point of the script sees Superman die and visits the ghost of his father in "Kryptonian heaven". One resurrection later, he beats his killers.
Wonder Woman by Joss Whedon (2005)
Although we haven't been able to get our hands on what Whedon turned in to Warner Brothers, in interviews producer Joel Silver said it would cover Wpnder Woman's origin, with Steve Trevor crashing on the island of Themscrya and Diana going back with him to man's world. Back in 2006, Whedon said that "With Wonder Woman, you're writing from whole cloth, but trying to make it feel like you didn't. To make it feel like it's existed for 60 years, even though you're making it up as you go along. But who she, and what the movie, is about, thematically, has never been a problem for me. But the steps along the way, it could be so easy for them to feel wrong. I won't settle. She wouldn't let me settle."
Shazam! by William Goldman (2008)
The story of Billy Batson as told by the screen writer of Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid? Tawky Tawny by the guy who wrote The Princess Bride? Back in mid-00s Goldman was one of several screenwriters brought on to transport DC's Captain Marvel to the big screen, but due to the success of the darker The Dark Knight Returns and the failure of lighter Speed Racer, WB shelved the light hearted project.