With 22 current films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and at least a dozen more on the way over the next few years, it’s not easy to keep track of all the MCU films that the franchise has given the world so far. But, if you were to count the number of Marvel films that fell by the wayside and never panned out at all, it would be even harder to keep track.
Now, Marvel is a huge machine that produces success, even for movies that don’t have characters that are well known outside the comic community. But in earlier years, when leadership was different (and when Marvel and Sony were still two very different beasts who didn’t collaborate on projects), a path was still being forged towards a comprehensive universe. As a result, there were projects that never got off the ground—projects that now seem like a no-brainer and include some pretty high-profile directors that seemed right up Marvel’s alley.
Take a look below at some of the films that could’ve, should’ve, would’ve.
Hurt Locker director Kathleen Bigalow came really close to production on an X-Men movie, which would have been produced by James Cameron. But it didn’t happen, largely because Cameron got swung away by a tantalizing web-slinger…
Among the many versions of Spider-Man that were supposed to exist before Marvel took back the rights from Sony and cast Tom Holland in the role was a version of the character that darker than what we’re used to seeing. Cameron wanted to make the film R-rated, with Doc Ock played by Arnold Schwarzenegger). It was passed on because of its complicated development.
Long before he took the reigns on Ant-Man at Marvel, Peyton Reed was pitching a film about Marvel’s first family to Fox. He even had a cast set up, envisioning Charlize Theron as the Invisible Woman and Paul Walker as the Human Torch. But Reed’s version never got off the ground and he left due to creative differences. (We think things turned out pretty well for him, though — like that Mandalorian episode!)
Namor, The Submariner
How do we not have a Namor movie already? I’ll let the true comic nerds answer that one. But we almost had the film—Philip Kaufman was hired to direct, but sadly, the movie never came to fruition.
The writer and director of Silver Linings Playbook penned an Emma Frost solo film, but it never went past the experimental stage. Superhero films with a focus on leading ladies were a hard sell at the time, but we’re glad that we’re over that hump now.
We’re excited to see some teen heroes take center stage when Marvel ultimately assembles Young Avengers, but before Kate Bishop and Yelena Belova were teaming up, Marvel had the chance to showcase another group of superpowered young adults: The Runaways. Peter Sollett, the director of Minecraft, nearly had a developed film but it got pushed aside thanks to the Avengers hype and Runaways ended up becoming a Hulu show instead.
What movie do you wish you could have seen come to fruition? Sound off in the comments!