Top 5: DC Comics Films That Never Happened

5. Sgt. Rock

Arnold Schwarzenegger was attached to play the title character, it would be explained that his father was Austrian and that’s why there would be an accent. John Millius was attached to direct. This script is floating around there somewhere. I think an Austrian Sgt. Rock fighting in World War II is a little strange but eventually this whole project was scrapped. Now apparently a new Sgt. Rock film is in development but it will take place in the future.

4. Super Max

This one had all of us scratching our heads. It was a Green Arrow movie but it wasn’t going to be called Green Arrow. The script was written by David Goyer (writer of Batman Begins,  director of Blade Trinity, kind of looks like Stanley Tucci). It was about Oliver Queen being falsely accused of a crime and being thrown in a prison for Supervillians. A Super MAXimum prison. This unfortunately was not a movie about the restaurant in Saved by the Bell.


3. Darren Aranofsky’s Batman: Year One

This movie sounded awesome just like every other movie Darren Aranofsky attaches himself to and then bails on. I think he and David Fincher do this to all of us on purpose and then laugh about it later with each other. Apparently Aronofsky was working with Frank Miller closely on this. He was also very intent on making it Jim Gordon centric, which is probably why it didn’t get made.


2. George Miller’s Justice League

Talk about a movie that got fast tracked into production. It was like someone mentioned this at a Warner Brothers meeting and next thing you know they were already fitting a cast for it. Armie Hammer as Batman! D.J. Cotrona as Superman! Adam Brody as the Flash! Common as Green Lantern! And Jay Baruchel as Maxwell Lord. Filming was going to be in Australia and the budget was at 300 million dollars. Then, just like that, the project vanished into thin air like it was Keyser Soze.


1. J.J. Abrams’ Superman Flyby

This screenplay broke the internet. Krypton doesn’t blow up but instead has a civil war. Jor-El is sent to Krypton prison. Dies. Kal-el is sent to earth to fulfill a prophecy. Jimmy Olsen is gay. The Superman suit is somewhat symbiotic. Lex Luther is a low level CIA agent looking into UFOs. Supeman is killed by another Kryptonian trying to save Lois. Goes to Krypton heaven. Talks to dad. Goes back to earth. Saves the day. Lex reveals he is also Kryptonian and martial arts fight in the sky. Lex is defeated and then Supes returns to Krypton. Can’t fault the guy for trying something new.


  1. Fun top five! 🙂

    I just hope that with the success of the Marvel Movies and more importantly, The Avengers, that a Justice League movie is in the works right freaking now at Warner Brothers!!! IT WILL MAKE MONEY GUYS! 0_o

    • I wonder if Amanda Waller will show up in MAN OF STEEL next year. If so, I would think a Justice League movie would be in the offing, using her as the Nick Fury of the DCU. If they’re going to do it, they would be wise to follow the AVENGERS method: build the individual characters FIRST, then bring them together after you really want to see it happen. This would require a Batman reboot, hopefully a reboot of Green Lantern (a la ’08 HULK, possibly going with John Stewart’s GL), and inclusions of Wonder Woman and Flash somewhere.

    • They had a perfect Amanda Waller in Green Lantern and they killed her. One of the many problems with that film.

    • Perhaps a “Brave and the Bold” film could introduce Flash & reintroduce a Green Lantern, then do a bit of a mini team-up story.
      Barry & Hal or even Wally & Kyle could be possible combinations.

  2. It’s a shame none of these got off the ground, although I’m kind of glad we avoided the shitstorm that Batman: Year One would have surely created in its wake. I actually liked the script a great deal, but it’s pretty R-rated (in his first mission, Bruce Wayne wears a hockey mask and stabs a dude through the eye with a pencil) and makes some rather drastic changes (Alfred’s a black mechanic called “Big Al.”)

    • Also of interest:

      A Batman Beyond movie that would have involved Paul Dini, Neal Stephenson and Boaz Yakin.

      Superman vs. Batman which came about as close to happening as the George Miller Justice League, which would have been directed by Wolfgang Peterson.

      We also can’t forget that time WB hired Joss Whedon to write and direct Wonder Woman, which they passed on… You know that exec got fired once the box office came in on the opening weekend of The Avengers (if they were still there, that is).

    • I dunno. As an Elseworlds book, I think the Aranofsky Year One works. As a movie, I think it was a little too wacky. Still, if nothing else the idea of the Aranofsky film probably made Batman Begins seem like a much less extreme departure from the mythos and made it easier for the execs to swallow.

    • Also, Batman would be homeless, and the Batmobile would be a Crown Vic/Towncar/one of those types of cars (I can’t remember which and Wikipedia is so far away).

  3. I always likes the SuperMax idea, but as a sequel once the character is established.

    • Agreed!

      In fact, if they do a Daredevil movie reboot, this would make a great premise for its sequel. Ripped from the pages of Brubaker’s run. Throw in the Punisher and use him like they did with Hulk in the Avengers movies – that’d be badass.

    • Yeah, it doesn’t have to be Green Arrow at all.

    • @Gerry I love that idea…A Marvel Street-Level Cinematic Universe. Set in the world of the LARGER MCU, but in it’s own little corner. Daredevil, Punisher, Heroes for Hire/Alias…THAT would be AWESOME!

  4. I think that Justice League was one of the many victims of the writer’s strike a few years ago. I’m also pretty sure Warner Brothers wanted the movie to be motion capture like the Polar Express and Beowulf, which would have been interesting.

  5. I feel like Superman Lives also deserves a mention. It was written by Kevin Smith, was going to be directed by Tim Burton and star Nicolas Cage as a Superman that couldn’t fly and who wore a black capeless suit that lit up and had a silver s-logo that could be taken apart and used as twin bladed weapons. It would have made Batman and Robin look like The Dark Knight. On the other hand, it also featured Brainiac and a giant robot spider, which are two things that i feel that the Superman films desperately need. Give him a giant robot to fight, stop having him foil Luthor’s real-estate scams.

  6. I fully expected the Whedon Wonder Woman to be number 1 as soon as I saw the headline! But what was there was more surprising – I’ve never heard of this one, gonna try and find it on the intarwebs now as it sounds hella interesting.

    It was never REALLY gonna happen, but I always thought Mark Millar’s take on Supes was interesting – a full trilogy which (from what I remember) ends long after the human race is extinct and Superman is the only thing left on Earth. Of course, you’d never get a studio to sign off on that.

  7. I always thought that Green Arrow SuperMax movie sounded really really cool. No need to mess about with an origin story. Just drop the viewer right into the action. I can almost see it as a Die Hard type movie. One man with a bow against a prison full of dirty guards and supervillains. It could’ve been a great showcase for some cool villains.

    Not every superhero story needs to be some huge epic about the hero saving the world. I’d like to see some smaller stories too.

  8. that superman sounds awful wtf was that. thank god they didn’t make it. sgt.rock and super max sounded good. 300 million on a jla film with no name actors no thanks. and batman year one is,a tough sell. great list. bit for real wtf is that superman script about ugg.

  9. Avatar photo Mickey">Mickey (@GeeksOfChrist) says:

    I’d love to see a Flyby comic, like Elseworlds or whatever the current version of that is.

  10. William Goldman’s Captain Marvel

  11. Ah JJ Abrams you serve up some crazy guacamole
    but why not, it sounds interesting…..

    I think that is how I feel about Spider-Man Movie
    as long as you are going to reboot
    offer up something different

  12. Avatar photo Mickey">Mickey (@GeeksOfChrist) says:

    According to Armie Hammer, the JLA movie tanked because the cast and crew had one too many expensive dinners.

    Another almost movie was uh, whatsisname that wrote Superman 78. Anyway, he wrote a Batman script around 83 or so. Mankiewicz or something like that.

    • Was this the same Batman script Ivan Reitman was circling and thinking about using Bill Murray for?

    • Avatar photo Mickey">Mickey (@GeeksOfChrist) says:

      Good question! I don’t remember ever hearing about that actually, but the timing is right.

    • Avatar photo Mickey">Mickey (@GeeksOfChrist) says:


      David Bowie as the Joker and David Niven as Alfred? That Reitman thing sounds like it could’ve been amazing.
      So yeah, it looks like Reitman wanted to use the Mankiewicz script from 83 for his proposed 85 release.

  13. Did I hear they were going to do something like Super Max with Deathstroke? Or a Suicide Squad movie?

  14. Did the Jack Black Green Lantern script actually evolve into the Ryan Renolds film or was it completely scrapped? Because that movie, my friends, was something truly…unique

  15. i vote for a Golden Age era, period Superman set in the 30s-40s starring John Hamm. I’m sure period superhero films aren’t that successful or we would have seen more of them, but i think it would have been so cool, to see some of these golden ages heroes doing their origin story back in the day. I dunno…i’d geek out.

    Even a 60s spiderman. That would be rad.

    That Nick Cage Superman was a lot closer to being real than history would have liked it to be.

  16. I finally understand why Marvel has, and will continue to, stomp DC. Despite the fact that I think DC has the superior universe and characters, they don’t believe so. They’re ashamed of their characters–so we get silly shit like Green Arrow in jail when nobody even knows who Green Arrow is, and a Kryptonian Lex Luthor.

    Marvel, when they finally got control of their characters, made them all look JUST like their comic versions. They’re direct adaptations. They put Captain America on the big screen wearing the flag as a costume and a giant star on his chest and an A on his forehead, and they’ve made hundreds of millions of dollars in profit off that and other characters. But DC is ashamed of every character except Batman, so we can’t go a full decade without a new Batman film, and Batman’s had a cartoon on almost every year since 1992. Brilliant.

    • Marvel got their ducks in a row and DC didn’t. I generally prefer the Marvel characters but that’s irrelevant. They provided a more consistent tone in the individual films so Avengers made sense. You couldn’t stick Christian Bale’s Batman in a movie with Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern and Brandon Routh’s Superman…just imagine what a cluster f*ck that would be lol

      I think you are right though, they have all this confidence in Batman but seem to have none in the most of the other characters.

    • Marvel also had the benefit of putting out IRON MAN via its own studio before being bought up by its MegaCorp overlords. The Powers That Be realized that Marvel knew what it was doing and, rather than trying to force themselves on the process, got the heck out of the way.

      Warner’s also hasn’t quite figured out that the way to make successful superhero films is tell good stories first and foremost. Nolan tells good Batman stories – they would make great Elseworlds comics or “Dark Knight Returns”- like series. Singer was too slavishly devoted to the original Superman films, and Green Lantern was too much fan service and tried to do too much with the world too soon. The above scripts are perfect examples of this, too. All the AVENGERS films have had good stories that were fun to watch, and they were tailored to their subjects (high-tech sci-fi for Iron Man, high mythic fantasy in Thor, WWII action for Cap). So, before putting a movie idea out there, get a good story together first.

    • ^this^

  17. During the early 00’s, I lived in FEAR of Darren Aranofsky’s Batman: Year One, — let me say that I am a huge fan of Aranofsky, and also very open-minded when it comes to interpreting Batman (as someone else says, it would have worked as an Elsewolds comic but not a movie). This was as far from Batman as any audience would ever be able to take, it had Bruce going around punching people with his Father’s ring. The upside down ‘W’ imprint it left on people gets interpreted as Bat. Audiences wanted to see a Batman movie on screen, not some psuedo character experiment. It was an awful, awful idea.
    JJ Abrahms’ Superman, While I’m not as familier with that one, sounds just as bad. (again, could work as an elseworlds)

    • That’s interesting, I’d never heard all that detail about the project (same for Abrams’ Superman).

      I know “Hollywood disrespecting comics” is a popular narrative among fans, but given these descriptions (and what they did with Catwoman), I wonder if there was some kind of thinking at WB that they needed to radically depart from the source material in order to re-energize the franchises. Some fun what-ifs to think about had one of these projects gotten made (and what if it was successful?)

  18. Avatar photo Jeff Reid (@JeffRReid) says:

    Jay Baruchel as Maxwell Lord? What? I cannot wrap my brain around that. If you don’t cast Sam Neill in that role, you’re insane. Baruchel is about as opposite of Neill as you can get.

    • I think you only cast Sam Neill if you’re casting the movie based on Kevin Maguire’s art work. And if it’s 1993. Dude’s a very good actor and all, but when the idea was to cast younger and largely unknown actors the lead hero roles, I don’t think you put them up against a man in his 60s.

      What about Vincent Kartheiser (Pete Campbell on Mad Men)? He appears pretty non-threatening, but can definitely do manipulative…and he has a very punchable look when needed!

  19. I’d hypothesize that if DC got its properties into the hands of other production companies besides Warner Bros., we’d see better DC comic book movies.

    • Not saying it’s gonna happen (ever) but when you consider what Marvel has done over the past 12 years, they not only fattened their pockets but I bet they learned a lot about how the different systems works. Some valuable experience you may not get when you’re stuck in one system (WB).

    • Warner Brothers isn’t a production company. They are a movie studio. Production companies are run by producers, directors, actors etc….they are the ones who really put the things together, but the studios pay for it. WB owns DC, there is no way they give their properties to another studio at this point.

      The problem with epic movies of this size and budget, is that there is so much at stake, A LOT of people want to/need to have a hand in the production. Marvel has done a stellar job at managing all the cooks in the kitchen while some of the DC stuff, especially Green Lantern really looked like it was a victim of too many people messing with it and it trying to be too many things.

      even the DC movies that were “bad”, they still made a ton of cash.

    • Thanks @wallythegreenmonster:

      Yeah, my knowledge of showbiz is lacking. So how does it basically work? A production company pitches an story for a movie and the movie studio gives them the money to make it?

      If that’s basically the case, I still stand by my previous premise that maybe if there were different Movie Studios besides WB making decisions on which DC movies get made, we’d have better DC comic book movies.

      What’s more, because Marvel had different movie studios making their movies we had more Marvel Comic Book movies (25 since 2000 vs. 8 featuring DC characters).

      Granted, more does not equal better but…

    • @smasher–its VERY complicated. I’m sure with the help of the googleplex you’d find a much more accurate and succinct explanation than i could ever give.=)

      I seem to remember hearing about Marvel having some sort of committee that Bendis and others are on, that work in some sort of advisory capacity with the Marvel Movies and other entertainment licensed productions. I don’t know if DC has that, but it seems like its working quite well to keep it grounded but also make for good stories.

    • @wallythegreenmonster

      Challenge Accepted!

      However it looks like I’m going to read some actual books for this one. Accurate & succinct, it seems, is a very rare bird.

    • Smasher. Read “Tales from Development Hell: The Greatest Movies Never Made” by David Hughes. It lays out the whole show biz process. You read it and end up wondering how any good movies get made.

  20. @Smasher: I think the problem is that Warner Brothers is the copyright holder for all the DC properties, so it would be a huge admission of defeat if they decided to let Dreamworks or Universal handle one of their properties.

    • @KenOchalek. Agreed, it’ll never happen.

      Unfortunately for WB, they don’t have to admit defeat. The numbers speak for themselves.

    • its not like WB doesn’t know how to make movies….they did pull off Harry Potter, The Matrix and all kinds of other epic blockbusters. They just might have made a few superhero movies that a few thousand comic book fans did not like, but just happened to make a few Bazillion dollars.

      I think the Nolan Batman films prove how important it is to have a visionary writer/director team with a great lead actor at the heart of it all.

    • Yes, the Harry Potter franchise dealt 8 films that are currently in the top 50 highest grossing films of all time.
      And the Dark Knight is currently at #12, Avengers is at #3, and the Spider-Man movies are at #23, 31, and 37.

  21. When I was a kid I remember wondering why there wasn’t a comic or movie or cartoon or TV show with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Tarzan and Sgt. Rock.

    Those were my favorite “DC” characters.

    So why weren’t Tarzan and Sgt. Rock on the Justice League?

    I guess figured it out when I saw those Frazetta-covered ERB paperbacks.

    They would have made a pretty good Five-Man Band.

    Especially since Diana is as strong as Supes, as smart as Bats, as savage as Tarzan and has seen more battle than Sgt. Rock. It would be a neat subversion of The Chick role.

    I always figured DC was gonna do some kind of Colonel Rock, Agent of SHADE kind of update.

  22. I had never heard of it before, but man, that J.J. Abrams Superman thing sounds HORRIBLE. He could make another superhero movie with that plot, but it is NOT Superman. It’s almost as bad as the John Peters one.

  23. I would have loved to see those Justice League and Green Arrow movies.

    There was an interview with Brody who spoke about the script and said it was really good. How it was going to have him playing Barry and Kid Flash was going to be established since Barry died in the movie and Wally would take over. There was a real sweet scene that he said he loved where Barry is running at extreme speed to stop something (basically where he “died” in Crisis) and he takes a second to run to Iris. He’s moving so fast though, that everything is frozen in time. He kisses her and says he loves her and then speeds back. Theoretically she doesn’t hear him, but then she begins to cry and I think she knows something’s wrong. I thought that was a really sweet/cool moment.

    The script also had Bruce in the armor batsuit since his back gets messed up or something, so he would look like he did in Kingdom Come.

    Now, I haven’t read the full script, but I still think those two things sounded cool.

  24. I always wanted to read the script for the “SUperman vs Batman” movie that almost got the greenlight about 10 years ago or so.

  25. Does “Superman Returns” count? Are you allowed to mention it? Does DC acknowledge its existence?