The summer blockbuster is a revered staple of the movie calendar. Every year, big spectacles take over the theaters and remind us all that sharks and dinosaurs are terrifying and that aliens are lovable and misunderstood, or, more likely, bent on our extermination. And then of course there are the superheroes determined to fight off these alien dinosaur sharks, clad in expensive looking capes, cowls, body armor and bat-suits with unfortunate nipples. Given the excess – and the countless sequels which promise even more excess, if that’s even possible – you would think that there would be no room for even more blockbusters, those that for whatever reason never made it to the big screen. But you would be wrong. Oh so wrong. And to prove it, here are eight summer blockbusters that never actually happened.
8. ‘Ghostbusters 3’
The Movie: The long awaited third installment of the Ghostbusters franchise, which went through lots of changes and cast rumors, everything ranging from the Ghostbusters in hell to Bill Murray as a ghost himself. Basically, it all depended on whatever Dan Aykroyd felt like telling people whenever they asked him about it.
Why It Never Happenedppened: Well, Murray has always been famously reluctant to put on the proton pack again, and the guys could never quite agree on a story direction. By the time it seemed like the movie might actually happen, Harold Ramis, aka Egon, got sick and then died, and that pretty much spelled the end of the Ghostbusters. Unless, of course, Aykroyd gets desperate and decides to make the movie anyway, with someone like Bill Hader and Andy Samberg as the sons of Venkman and Egon, but let’s not even imagine such things. We’re better than that.
7. ‘Batman Beyond’/’Batman vs. Superman’
The Movie: Before Christopher Nolan came along, Hollywood was desperate to reboot the Batman franchise after Joel Schumacher’s infamous foray into nipples and corny Arnold one-liners, and that meant that they were willing to explore just about any story idea, from making a live-action version of the animated Batman Beyond to the wild Batman vs. Superman, which would have seen a vengeful Bruce Wayne take on Clark Kent after he thought the latter killed his new wife. Yeah.
Why It Never Happened: None of the ideas ever really came together in a way that really inspired a lot of confidence. Interestingly, though, the seeds for the Nolan Batman films can be seen in a few of the ideas, most notably Batman: Year One, which was basically the jumping off point for Nolan’s Batman Begins, and the idea for Christian Bale as Batman, since he was set to play the Caped Crusader in Batman vs. Superman.
6. ‘Gladiator 2’
The Movie: Russell Crowe got his boy, fellow Aussie Nick Cave, to write a script for a sequel to Gladiator, which, uh… didn’t Maximus die at the end of the first one? Well, yeah, but that didn’t stop the rock star Cave from coming up with a wild script that turned Maximus into an immortal who fought throughout time, up to and including Vietnam. Good Lord. Wait… isn’t that basically just Wolverine?
Why It Never Happened: Uh, read all that again. Crowe reportedly took a look at the script and told Cave thanks, but no thanks, but there were rumors – insane rumors – that he was still interested and even went so far as to pitch the idea to director Ridley Scott, who I’m guessing immediately changed his number.
5. ‘Superman Flyby’/’Superman Lives’
The Movie: Much like the Batman franchise, Hollywood is always on the lookout for ways to reboot the Superman story, and as we have seen, they still haven’t quite figured it out. Two of the versions that came closest to happening before everyone gave up and let Bryan Singer make a two hour sleeping pill starring Brandon Routh, were Superman Flyby, written by JJ Abrams and produced by McG, aka the year 2002 personified, and the crazy Superman Lives, which at times saw Tim Burton attached to direct, Kevin Smith as the writer, and Nicolas freakin’ Cage as Superman himself. I am heartbroken this never happened, if only for the LOLs.
Why It Never Happened: The ideas were all terrible and/or completely ridiculous. I mean, come on, Tim Burton, Kevin Smith and Nicolas Cage? Jesus Christ. It was like some studio exec did a huge pile of blow and then just picked three random names out of a hat. Still, don’t you kind of want to see whatever grotesque monstrosity those three would have come up with? At the very least, it probably would have been entertaining. Sure, maybe not for the right reasons, but still.
The Movie: Legendary sleazeball Paul Verhoeven was all set to team with Arnold Schwarzenegger in an ultra-violent, wild, no doubt titty filled spectacle about the Crusades. It basically would have been Conan the Barbarian crossed with Total Recall.
Why It Never Happened: The budget spun out of control and it died before it could even live, which is a shame because holy shit, this might have been the craziest, most offensive movie ever made. Like, could you imagine how people in the Muslim world would have handled a Paul Verhoeven movie about the Crusades? Good Lord. He would have had to start traveling with Robocop as a bodyguard.
3. James Cameron’s ‘Spider-Man’
The Movie: Basically, the Spider-Man you all know and love, only a foul-mouthed version that banged Mary Jane on the Brooklyn Bridge in broad daylight. Plus, James Cameron was behind it, so you know it would have been a total spectacle that probably would have made a billion dollars and forever changed the direction of the comic book movie genre.
Why It Never Happened: This was back in the 90s, when no one in Hollywood had any clue what to do with comic book movies. The budget for Cameron’s idea was hacked to pieces, and that was pretty much that. His ideas kept floating around for a while, but nothing ever came of them, and James Cameron would go on to never do anything ever again. What a failure.
2. ‘Night Skies’
The Movie: Following the success of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Hollywood was all over Steven Spielberg to make another friendly alien blockbuster. He responded with this idea about an alien terrorizing a Kentucky family, which included aliens dissecting farm animals and lots of other wholesome family fun.
Why It Never Happened: It was too dark, and never really got off the ground, but ideas from the script survived, and were later used in Poltergeist, and… wait for it, E.T. Yeah, I’d say it worked out okay for Spielberg in the end.
1. ‘Justice League’
The Movie: You’ve all seen The Avengers, right? Well, this was the DC version, with Superman, Batman and the gang. It had a pretty massive budget, an interesting, if slightly underwhelming cast, and legendary Australian director George Miller ready to bring some of his Mad Max magic to the mix.
Why It Never Happened: There doesn’t seem to be one concrete reason why this fell apart, but the Writer’s Strike of 2008 probably played a part, as well as the fact that they did it all ass backwards. Marvel quickly showed that the way to do it was to make several individual movies first and then team everyone up for a gargantuan blockbuster. DC Comics seems to have learned their lesson, though, as they’re trying to mimic that now, which means that while the George Miller Justice League might be dead, eventually a version, hopefully badass, is scheduled to see the light of day in 2017, after Superman, Batman, the Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and all the rest have time to tell their own stories first. Of course, as we have seen here, things don’t always work out as planned.