With new titles popping up every other month it seems, it’s starting to feel like there’s no comic book movie that Hollywood will say no to. And why should they? Comic book movies, particularly ones based on superheros, are big business right now, to the point where even ones that don’t do well with critics (Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad being two recent prominent examples) are raking in hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office. However, even though comic book movies have been around for decades now, the superhero boom is only a recent phenomenon. Before Marvel and to a lesser extent DC established their shared universe models, studios had a tough time getting some of these movies off the ground, to the point where the last 20 years or so is riddled with the corpses of failed projects. While this list doesn’t include every cancelled comic book movie out there, it’s still a sobering reminder that even superhero movies aren’t immune from ending up on the scrap heap.
16. James Cameron’s Spider-Man
In the mid-90s, when the movie rights to Marvel properties were being tossed around like candy, there was a point in time when James Cameron was attached to write and direct a Spider-Man movie that—get this—would likely have starred Terminator 2’s Edward Furlong as Peter Parker, Leonardo DiCaprio as Harry Osborn, and Arnold “Mr. Freeze” Schwarzenegger as Doc Ock. Two different drafts were tossed around that were both weird in their own right; one featured a somewhat perverted Spider-Man whose webbing was used as a rather obvious sexual innuendo and the other featured Vulture as the villain, but it was laced with profanity for some reason.
However, it wasn’t bad casting, budget concerns, or edgy scripts that did Cameron’s Spider-Man in, but rather legal issues over film rights. Then rights holder Carolco went under and Cameron bolted to make Titanic, leaving a whole bunch of companies to fight over attaining the rights. Eventually Sony acquired them from Marvel, leading to Sam Raimi’s 2002 film.