Fans of the comic book movie genre got no shortage of films to look forward too over the next few years after Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara formally announced this week a full slate of DC projects set to be released between 2016 and 2020. Confirmed to be in development were such films as Suicide Squad (2016), Wonder Woman (2017), The Flash (2018), Aquaman (2018), Shazam (2019), Green Lantern (2020), Cyborg (2020) and two Justice League films (2017 and 2019).
But despite this plethora of DC movies that are now officially on the docket, there were also a number of noticeable absentees from WB’s list of upcoming projects. Many of these films have been rumored to be in development for a number of years, or were confirmed to be in DC’s imminent plans in previously published reports. Here are the eight cinematic castoffs we are most surprised by:
8. Flash/Green Lantern Team-Up
Moviegoers are already going to get Batman vs. Superman in 2016, so why not bring some of DC’s iconic heroes together in a more friendly, less confrontational setting? A June, 2014 report on NikkieFinke.com claimed that a Flash/Green Lantern team-up movie was part of DC/WB’s agenda to be released around December, 2017. Considering the dynamics between the two characters, especially in more recent years in series like Blackest Night and in the New 52, it certainly made sense to pair them off for a film. Plus, with Flash’s new CW series and a previous Green Lantern movie that flopped at the box office, a team-up would have been a worthwhile way to add a fresh coat of paint to these two characters without making it seem like DC was going over the same old ground.
7. The Metal Men
While it’s certainly not one of DC’s most prominent properties a la the Justice League or Batman, the Metal Men – a team of six cyborgs that each represent a different element from the periodic table – have reportedly been on DC/WB’s wish list for a future film for quite some time. About two years ago, Men in Black 3 director Barry Sonnefeld teased that he had signed on to direct a movie based on a Silver Age DC team. Vulture than reported that Sonnefeld’s movie was indeed connected to the obscure Metal Men.
A year later, the team appeared in a series of animated shorts on Cartoon Network, leading some to speculate that it was a precursor to a feature film. But those rumors ultimately never went anywhere.
6. Doom Patrol
Another somewhat unheralded Silver Age team, the Doom Patrol were frequently compared to the X-Men during the 1960s as both superhero groups consisted of social misfits/outcasts and were led wheelchair-bound mentors. Not much has been rumored about a Doom Patrol film adaptation since 2006, when Variety first reported that I Am Legend and Jonah Hex producer Akiva Goldsman was in talks with DC/Warner to work on this project. However, fans reading the New 52 Justice League series will note that the original Silver Age lineup of the Doom Patrol – Robotman, Elasti-Girl, Negative Man and Element Women – just recently appeared in the title, meaning they are still in the forefront of somebody’s minds at DC.
5. Teen Titans
This rumor probably would have had more juice a few weeks ago before DC/WB announced that they intended to adapt their teenage superhero franchise for a new serial television series on TNT. Akiva Goldsman, who was originally attached to produce a Teen Titans film for DC/Warner has already been confirmed to be co-writing the series pilot, which has not yet received an air date. However, it’s worth noting that a key member from the ballyhooed Marv Wolfman/George Perez run on The New Teen Titans, Cyborg, has already been confirmed to be appearing in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Justice League, and his very own solo film, and will be portrayed by stage actor Ray Fisher.
Bill Willingham’s critically acclaimed (and long-running) series that deals with various classic characters from fairy tales and folk lore has been rumored to receive a big screen adaptation for more than a year. According to a June, 2013 Hollywood Reporter article, Nikolaj Arcel, director of the Danish film, A Royal Affair, was supposed to direct, while Jeremy Slater, David Heyman and Jeffrey Clifford had all signed on to script the movie. This project comes after a few earlier attempts to bring Fables to the big screen, including a 2004 project from the Jim Henson Company that ultimately went nowhere. A Wall Street Journal report from earlier this year strongly indicated that Fables was confirmed to be in development. Given the success of television series like Once Upon a Time, it seems sensible that Willingham’s classic still has a shot to be made into a movie.
3. 100 Bullets
Another entry that was seemingly confirmed for the big screen in the April, 2014 Wall Street Journal report, the Eisner Award-winning crime series from Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso has found it to be tough sledding in terms of getting any kind of live action adaptation. In 2011, David Goyer, co-writer of the Dark Knight and Dark City was reportedly attached to executive produce and write a TV series based on the comic that would run on Showtime. However, the plug was later pulled on the series because its violent subject matter was deemed too insensitive and dark after a number of school shootings around the country. Considering the live action success of the ultra-violent comic, The Walking Dead, and the upcoming adaptation of Preacher that’s expected to debut sometime in 2015, there’s always a chance 100 Bullets could still be transformed into a film or television series.
2. Justice League Dark
This one seemed like a gimme based on interviews with director/producer Guillermo Del Toro that were conducted as recently as August. While speaking with IGN during San Diego Comic Con, Del Toro said that a Justice League Dark project, which would star some of DC’s supernatural characters such as John Constantine, Swamp Thing and Zatanna, was “deep in the screenplay writing phase.” He also said that he, DC and Warner Bros. saw “eye-to-eye” on the project. So why no Justice League Dark by 2020?
Maybe DC/WB are waiting to see how the new Constantine television series fares critically and commercially after it debuts on NBC next week, though as is the case with the upcoming Flash film, the television and movie universes for Constantine/Justice League Dark would remain separate entities. The other possibility is that DC/WB just had nothing ready to report at this time on the project, but it could still be in the works.
A film based on Neil Gaiman’s gothic classic has long been rumored since the late 1990s, and there were even discussions of bringing it to television a few years ago before that project eventually fell apart. Still, even with this history of developmental fits and starts, the omission of Sandman from DC/WB’s list of film projects is a surprise. Another attempt to adapt this series looked to be gaining momentum over the summer when The Dark Knight Rises star Joseph Gordon Levitt had reportedly signed on to direct and possibly star in a Sandman film. Gaiman himself even confirmed that JGL and Dark Knight Rises and Man of Steel screenwriter David Goyer had discussed a Sandman project. So perhaps an announcement could still be made about a film adaptation of this beloved series in the coming months.