In the crazy, mixed up world of Hollywood, some pretty weird ideas get taken very seriously. From improbable sequels to early versions of classic movies, these 10 bizarre projects were very nearly a reality. We'll let you decide if it was good or bad that they never happened.
1. TMNT: The Last Mutation
After three films of pizza-eating, ninja-fighting action, the turtles took a break from the big screen for more than 10 years. In the meantime they appeared on TV in The Next Mutation, and that show has its roots in a planned fourth entry in the Ninja Turtles series.
Named The Last Mutation, the planned movie was supposed to stick closely to the original Eastman and Laird comics, meaning it would be grittier and darker than the original films.
Early concept art for the film shows the original turtles getting new powers, and a fifth turtle named Kirby (after comic artist Jack Kirby) would have been introduced. The film sadly never got past the planning stage, but we would have loved to see how it turned out.
2. Gladiator 2
Ridley Scott's swords and sandals epic was an unexpected blockbuster, raking in $450 million around the world and five Oscar awards. The only downside was that Russell Crowe's character, Maximus Decimus Meridius, dies at the end, so there was no hope for a sequel. Right?
Crowe begged to differ. He told musician and screenwriter Nick Cave "You sort that out," giving him free rein to write Gladiator 2. The script that Cave turned in was named Christ Killer, and featured Maximus battling the gods, including Jesus, before traveling through time.
Maximus was supposed to fight through history, including the Vietnam war, before helping to plan World War 3 from the Pentagon. According to Cave, Crowe simply said "Don't like it, mate." But the musician still insists the story was a "stone-cold masterpiece." We'll take his word for it.
3. The Star Wars
Like all creative geniuses, Star Wars creator George Lucas begins with a rough draft and polishes it into gold. And we should be thankful, because his first draft of the space opera was very rough.
Sometimes called The Star Wars, Lucas's 1974 script for the original movie followed a teenage jedi named Annikin Starkiller, who fought against Emperor Cos Dashit (really) with the help of General Luke Skywalker.
Famous characters like Princess Leia and Darth Vader make appearances, but there are some subtle differences. Han Solo is described as "a huge, green skinned monster" with gills, which doesn't do Harrison Ford justice.
4. James Cameron's Spider-Man
The success of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man laid the foundation for Marvel's global box office success, and it's safe to say that Cameron's vision of the famous web-slinger probably wouldn't have. The Terminator director was attached as the movie's writer, director and producer.
Cameron had a tight deadline to turn in his script and earn his $3 million writing fee from the studio. That probably explains why his draft featured a sidekick for Dr. Octopus named "Weiner." The movie was written kind of like American Pie meets the Avengers, with a highly questionable scene of Peter watching Mary Jane undress through her bedroom window.
Cameron also reportedly planned to cast T2's Edward Furlong as Peter and Arnold Schwarzenegger as Dr. Octopus. You can decide what to make of that.
Brace yourselves, because this next project takes the cake...
5. The Lord of the Rings, starring the Beatles
Super-fan John Lennon led the Fab Four to the brink of adapting J.R.R. Tolkien's epic fantasy series, and the band members had even picked out their roles. John saw himself as Gollum, and Paul and Ringo chose to be Frodo and Sam. George Harrison imagined himself in the role of Gandalf, which would actually be pretty interesting.
The band also had high hopes for the film's director: they tried to recruit Stanley Kubrick, but the famously picky auteur turned them down. Tolkien, who still owned the film rights, killed the project when he refused to give the band his blessing.
"It was a good job we never made ours," Paul McCartney reportedly told Peter Jackson, "because then you wouldn’t have made yours and it was great to see yours."
6. Superman Lives
Christopher Reeves played the role of Superman so well that it's hard to imagine anyone else putting on the red cape. That must be why these videos of Nic Cage as the Kryptonian seem so weird.
Tim Burton was attached to direct the superhero movie after being kicked off the Batman series, and Clerks director Kevin Smith wrote a draft of the screenplay. He later shared details of the plot, including a team-up between villains Lex Luthor and Brainiac and Superman's death (and resurrection).
Ultimately the film wound up in Development Hell, and was eventually cancelled. Too bad, because we'd pay to see Nic Cage fight the giant, mechanical spider that was planned for the movie's third act.
7. The Silver Surfer
Of all the comic book characters who could have had a movie in the 1980s, we probably wouldn't have picked Marvel's psychedelic sci-fi hero. In a surprisingly progressive turn, pop star Olivia Newton-John was cast as Norrin Radd - okay, so the film's producer Lee Kramer was her boyfriend, but still!
The idea for the film was to make something in the vein of 2001: A Space Odyssey, but as a rock opera. "It's even conceivable that the Surfer might have a chant or a fanfare made up of one thousand electric guitar[s]," Kramer said in the '80s.
Strangely, Paul McCartney was involved in this project too. A serious Marvel comics fan, McCartney agreed to work on the score with Kramer, but since production never started on the film we'll just have to wonder about how good the soundtrack could have been.
8. Jodorowsky's Dune
A planned movie so fascinating that it inspired an award-winning documentary about the fact that it was never made, the combination of the beloved sci-fi epic and avant-garde filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowksy seemed like match made in heaven.
Big name actors including Orson Welles and David Carradine were attached to the project, as well as Salvador Dali and Mick Jagger, with Jodorowski's 12-year-old son playing Paul Atreides. Sadly, all that was ever made of the film is a few stunning pieces of concept art.
But Jodorowsky's Dune had a kind of afterlife: the director's team of artists and special effects workers (including H.R. Giger) began working together on the set of Alien once production stalled.
9. George Miller's Justice League
The success of Mad Max: Fury Road has reminded the world just how talented director George Miller is. It reminds us that he very nearly made a live action Justice League film in the late 2000s.
Named Justice League Mortal, shooting was ready to start in Australia until the writer's strike in 2007 finished the project off for good. The film was set to follow the team fighting killer robots, and reportedly ended with the Flash sacrificing his life to save the team.
Some of the cast members included Jay Baruchel as Maxwell Lord, rapper Common as Green Lantern, Adam Brody from The OC as the Flash, and Armie Hammer as Batman - keep your eyes peeled for him in the upcoming Justice League, second time's the charm!
10. E.T. 2: Nocturnal Fears
Another case of putting the "wildly lucrative sequel" cart before the "common sense" horse, Steve Spielberg actually helped write this strangely dark sequel to E.T. before realizing it was a bad idea.
The sequel was meant to follow what happens after the lovable alien returns to his home planet. E.T.'s "siblings," scaly "albino mutations" with red eyes and sharp teeth, come looking for him and find Elliott and his friends.
After terrorizing and torturing the kids, E.T. was meant to arrive to save the day. Granted, this was just a rough script treatment dreamed up by Spielberg and writer Melissa Mathison, but even the chance to make oodles of money couldn't convince him to traumatize a new generation of kids with Nocturnal Fears.
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