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What If Heroes

10 DC Comics Movies that Almost Happened

Catch Batman Begins this month on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

While movie theaters are littered with superhero movies these days, from iconic brands like Batman and Superman to cult characters like Deadpool, for every comic that makes it to the big screen, there are dozens that have failed. DC Comics was an early pioneer of translating their properties to movies, from 1978’s Superman to the franchise revitalizing Batman Begins, but they’ve certainly struggled along the way. Here are a few DC Comics-based projects that fell apart before they ever got going, leaving us wondering “what if?”

10. Tim Burton’s Catwoman

Catwoman
Warner Bros.

After a standout performance in Batman Returns, Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman was eyed for her own spinoff. Heathers screenwriter Daniel Waters was hired to write the script, which would focus on Catwoman rehabbing from her wounds in Oasisburg, a Las Vegas-type city filled with do-gooder superheroes that she would have free reign to mock. The satirical concept, ahead of its time, was to use Catwoman as a device to poke fun at the masculine tropes of superhero movies. Unfortunately, Waters turned the script in the day Batman Forever opened, and Burton moved on to other projects. The screenplay would eventually morph, after numerous rewrites, into the Halle Berry-starring box office dud.


9. Hawkman

Hawkman
Warner Bros.

Back in 2011, Warner Brothers started sniffing around the winged hero Hawkman to see if he had any feature legs. While writers were brought in, no one was ever hired to adapt the character, leaving a logline as the only evidence of the project. The film would have been “part Indiana Jones/Da Vinci Code, part Ghost” and delve into the eternal romance between Hawkman and Hawkgirl. With the current Justice League line-up intact and the Hawks currently on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, it’s anyone’s guess when we’ll see the high-flying duo on the big screen.


8. Wolfgang Petersen’s Batman Vs. Superman

Batman V Superman
Warner Bros.

While moviegoers were subjected to Zack Snyder’s bleak, dystopian Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice earlier this year, if Wolfgang Petersen, the director of such hits as The Perfect Storm and Troy, had gotten the gig, we would’ve seen the two icons face off over a decade ago. With a script cowritten by Seven scribe Andrew Kevin Walker, Petersen’s Batman Vs Superman would’ve found The Dark Knight mourning the death of Robin, and Superman moping after divorcing Lois Lane. The two heroes duke it out when Batman blames Superman for the death of his fiancee, but they soon come together to defeat Lex Luthor. Prior to being cast in Batman Begins, Christian Bale was considered to play Batman in this film that may have been darker than the recent big screen clash.


7. The Wachowskis’ Plastic Man

Plastic Man
DC Comics

Back in 1995, the Wachowskis, still newbies to the Hollywood game, were hired to write a take on Plastic Man. Trading in the character’s con man roots for a new career as an eco-terrorist, the filmmakers described the script as the closest they would ever come to writing a comedy. (There was supposedly a gag involving Plastic Man’s urine not being biodegradable that is probably best left to the imagination.) The project ended up going nowhere, but there were rumors that the duo tried to revive it after The Matrix hit with Keanu Reeves in the lead role. Sadly, those rumors appear to be a bit of a stretch.


6. Preacher

Preacher
Vertigo/DC Comics

Garth Ennis made a big push to get his violently satirical Preacher comic made as a feature film in the late ’90s. Rachel Talalay, best known at the time for directing cult hits like Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare and Tank Girl, was brought on board as a director, but the studio got cold feet, due to the religiously provocative subject matter. Preacher fan Kevin Smith was brought in to help shepherd the project to the big screen with James Marsden cast as possessed small town preacher Jesse Custer, but the film lost its financing and languished in development. HBO tried to set it up as a television series with Daredevil director Mark Steven Johnson, but that too fell through, until Seth Rogen took it upon himself to bring Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy to the small screen. (The AMC series will premiere May 22nd.)


5. Tim Burton’s Superman Lives starring Nic Cage

Nic Cage Superman Lives
Warner Bros.

The story of Tim Burton’s failed effort to bring Superman back to the big screen is so bizarre and legendary, there’s even a documentary about it. Loosely based on the “Death of Superman” comic arc, Superman Lives would have seen peak ’90s Nic Cage as the most intense Man of Steel to ever reach the big screen. While there were numerous versions of the script (some drafts by Kevin Smith) and titles that ranged from Superman Reborn to Superman Lives, Tim Burton pushed the idea of villains Braniac and Lex Luthor merging into a new villain, named “Luthiac.” Jon Peters, the former hairdresser turned legendary movie producer, was also heavily involved in the development of the script, insisting on bizarre details like giant robot spiders and a scene where Superman would’ve fought some polar bears. The project eventually fell apart under the weight of its many bad ideas.


4. George Miller’s Justice League

Justice League
Warner Bros.

Before Mad Max: Fury Road, director George Miller spent years trying to get his version of the Justice League made. Using his trademark operatic style, Miller viewed the DC comics all-stars as our modern day Greek Gods, and planned to create a movie with the scope to show it. Actor D.J. Cotrona, who was due to play Superman, has said Miller “was doing things with the Superman character and Batman character, and all the iconic favorites, that’s never been done before. Watch Fury Road and you can only imagine what he would do with those iconic characters.” With The Lone Ranger himself Armie Hammer lined up to play Batman, Adam Brody as The Flash, and Common as the John Stewart version of Green Lantern, Justice League: Mortal remains one of the great “what ifs” in movie history. Unfortunately, the 2007 Writer’s Strike gave antsy studio execs an excuse to pull the plug.


3. Joss Whedon’s Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman
Warner Bros.

Back in the early 2000s, the superhero movie landscape was drastically different. Warner Brothers was still licking its wounds from the disaster that was Batman & Robin, and Joss Whedon was still a cult TV writer years away from bringing The Avengers to the big screen. So it shouldn’t come as a shock that shepherding a Wonder Woman film into fruition was far from an easy task. Whedon told Maxim magazine that, “I wrote a script. I rewrote the story. And by the time I’d written the second script, they asked me…not to. They didn’t tell me to leave, but they showed me the door and how pretty it was.” (Whedon wanted future Marvel movie star Cobie Smulders, then a relatively unknown TV actress, to play the title role. Stew on that, fanboys.) While the man behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer bringing the most iconic female superhero to the big screen sounds like a match made in heaven, reviews of the script have been mixed, and Whedon may have been better off moving on to Marvel.


2. Green Lantern starring Jack Black

Jack Black Green Lantern
Nickelodeon

Yep, Jack Black came close to playing the green gladiator back in 2011, before ultimately losing the part to Ryan Reynolds. Black told Yahoo that Robert Smigel, the man behind Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, had written “a really funny script, an awesome script,” but the studio got cold feet, and wanted to go a more traditional route. Smigel has since described his take, saying “what appealed to me about it on a comedic level was that, in order to be a superhero, this requires no physical skill or talent. All it requires is owning this ring. Automatically, that’s a comedic premise.” When asked if he’d be up for playing the part in the upcoming Justice League movie, Jack joked, “Yeah, they’re not going to call me.”


1. The Sandman

Sandman
Warner Bros.

Neil Gaiman’s magnum opus is about the complicated life of Dream, one of the seven Endless gods who shape our reality. Covering multiple time periods and literary genres, it’s not a simple comic to adapt, which might explain the decades of attempts that have ended up going nowhere. The first try was all the way back in the mid-’90s, when writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, then best known for their work on the Disney hit Aladdin, were hired to take a pass. Jon Peters (yes, him again) was a producer on the project, and failed to understand their draft. He wanted more sexy teenagers, and for Dream to wear tights and punch bad guys. This, unsurprisingly, led to the project falling apart, even after director Roger Avary (The Rules of Attraction) tried to intervene, and explain how good the script was. The project has received interest over the years, most recently from actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who tried and failed to get it up and running, before hitting the dreaded “creative differences” with New Line Cinema, who now own the rights. As for Gaiman, he’s been through all this before and summed it up perfectly in a recent Tweet:

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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GIFs via Giphy

Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

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IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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