DC at the Movies
In keeping up with the comings and goings of DC’s comic book franchises that have plans to segue to the silver screen, here we have put together Warner Bros. more recent plans on making that adaptation for some of our favorite heroes, as well as some other characters and how close we are to seeing them in theaters.
In January 2001, producer Joel Silver approached Todd Alcott to write a Wonder Woman screenplay, with Silver Pictures backing the project. Early gossip linked actresses such as Mariah Carey, Sandra Bullock, Rachel Bilson, and Catherine Zeta-Jones to the role of Wonder Woman. Leonard Goldberg, speaking in a May 2001 interview, named Bullock as a strong candidate for the project. Bullock claimed that she was approached for the role, while Lucy Lawless and professional wrestler Chyna both expressed interest. Lawless indicated that she would be more interested if Wonder Woman was portrayed as a "flawed hero." The screenplay then went through various drafts written by Alcott, Jon Cohen, Becky Johnston, and Philip Levens. By August 2003, Levens was replaced by screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis (Birds of Prey).
In March 2005, Warner Bros. and Silver Pictures announced that Joss Whedon would write and direct the film adaptation of Wonder Woman. Since Whedon was directing Serenity at the time, and required time to research Wonder Woman’s background, he did not begin the screenplay until late 2005. According to Joel Silver, the script would cover Wonder Woman’s origin and include Steve Trevor: "Trevor crashes on the island and they go back to Man’s World." Silver wanted to film Wonder Woman in Australia once the script was completed. While Whedon stated in May 2005 that he would not cast Wonder Woman until he finished the script, Charisma Carpenter (Angel) and Morena Baccarin (Firefly) expressed interest in the role.
Despite telling people, "It was in an outline, and not in a draft, and they [studio executives] didn’t like it. So I never got to write a draft where I got to work out exactly what I wanted to do." Whedon is known to have actually finished a screenplay that was not met favorably by Warner Bros. or DC.
In February 2007, Whedon departed from the project, citing script differences with the studio. Whedon reiterated: "I never had an actress picked out, or even a consistent front-runner. I didn’t have time to waste on casting when I was so busy air-balling on the script." Whedon stated that with the Wonder Woman project left behind, he would focus on making his film Goners.
A day before Whedon’s departure from Wonder Woman, Warner Bros. and Silver Pictures purchased a script written by Matthew Jennison and Brent Strickland. Set during World War II, the script impressed executives at Silver Pictures. However, Silver has made clear that he purchased the script because he didn’t want it floating around in the industry; although it has good ideas, he doesn’t wish for the Wonder Woman film to be a period piece. By April 2008, Silver hired Jennison and Strickland to write a new (modern day) script that would not depict Wonder Woman’s origin, but explore Paradise Island’s history.
According to an August 2008 article in The Wall Street Journal, featuring Warner Bros. president Jeff Robinov speaking about their DC property films, a Wonder Woman film is among other super-hero films currently in "active development."
Director Greg Berlanti was signed on in 2007 to co-write and direct a Green Lantern feature film, featuring Hal Jordan as the main character. The other writers working on the screenplay include Michael Green (who had done work on Heroes for television and Superman/Batman for comics) and Marc Guggenheim (known for his comic work on The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive and Wolverine). The film is currently scheduled for release in 2010, but the film has been in initial development for over a year.
It was recently reported from a small script review the story details of the movie. It appears that the Emerald Dawn miniseries and not the current Origin tale in the title serves as a major influence of the film’s plot, with Hal Jordan receiving the ring and going to Oa to be taught by Sinestro. He would fight Legion as the main villain and Hector Hammond would be the threat to Earth. It is unknown whether Sinestro would appear as a villain in the movie or if he would be saved for another film. There will be an appearance from both Guy Gardner and a small cameo made by Clark Kent. Other characters appearing are Martin Jordan, Carl Ferris, Carol Ferris, Thomas Kalmaku, Tomar-Re, Kilowog, and, of course, the Guardians of the Universe. David Boreanaz has expressed interest in playing Hal Jordan after he took on voicing the character in the Justice League: New Frontier animated film. Ryan Gosling is currently in line for the role.
David Goyer and Justin Marks penned a script for a movie starring Green Arrow originally called Super Max. On June 5, 2008, the film was retitled Green Arrow: Escape from Super Max. The reported storyline is that the hero (framed for a crime he didn’t commit) must escape a high security prison filled with B and C list villains and rogue super-heroes.
In an interview, Justin Marks stated, "It’s a very, very awesome prison. I majored in architecture in college, and design is how I actually started in. For Super Max, designing that prison, it had to be the kind of thing that was a character in and of itself. We’re in a world where instead of just trying to contain a guy who’s really big, you’re trying to contain a guy who can — in the case of Icicle — who can freeze things. What kind of a cell would a guy like that need in order to have his powers neutralized? So to escape from Super Max they have got to go through the most elaborate heist we’ve ever seen, involving superpowers. Because the prison itself kind of has super-powers!" He added that Black Canary won’t be making an appearance in the film, but in a separate interview, Marks stated that including more of the lesser known villains is the aim, but wouldn’t restrict them from throwing in a nod to Joker or Lex Luthor. It is unknown if this film will have any continuity ties with Superman Returns or The Dark Knight.
In December 2004, David S. Goyer was attached to write and direct a superhero film based on the character. Goyer expressed interest in having actor Ryan Reynolds portray Wally West, with Reynolds expressing his own interest in the role. In June 2005, Goyer was still developing the first script draft for The Flash and had yet to finalize negotiations with Reynolds. In February 2007, Goyer departed from the project, citing creative differences with the studio. Goyer’s script was considered dark-themed, including both Barry Allen and Wally West as The Flash and drawing on seminal comic book runs by Mike Baron, Mark Waid, and Geoff Johns. This was before the times of Dark Knight, where Warner opened up it’s eyes to the possibility of a dark super-hero film.
Later in February 2007, director Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum) was announced to be attached to The Flash and to oversee the writing of the new draft, which would use elements of Goyer’s script. Ryan Reynolds expressed interest in the role once more of The Flash if the new script’s incarnation was Wally West. Later in the year, Reynolds was picked up by Fox to play the assassin Deadpool in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. While the film has already been filmed, it is unknown whether this will affect Reynolds in the role or not.
In October 2007, director David Dobkin said that he was signed on to direct The Flash, replacing Levy. Dobkin said that the film would work as a spin-off from the upcoming Justice League of America film where Barry Allen dies and the incarnation of the Flash would be Wally West. In the February 08 issue of Wizard the Flash was placed for a 2008 release date. However, this obviously fell through as well.
From February 2007 until April 2008, the much maligned project was subject to rumors before eventually being put on an indefinite hiatus; in a recent interview, producer Joel Silver stated that Justice League "has been tabled. In August 2008 director George Miller was quoted saying "the flick’s production, initially planned for Oz, has been moved offshore, with a plan to resume filming next year. On August 22. however, The Wall Street Journal reported, Warners new plan is to release four individual solo movies within the next three years first, before doing a multiple character movie, much like rival Marvel does with their Avengers film. While Warner Bros. Pictures Group President Jeff Robinov confirmed that one of those films will be a Superman reboot, it is likely that among the other three, there will be a sequel to the successful Batman flick The Dark Knight as well as two movies introducing fresh DC Comics characters to the big screen.
In July of 2007, Warner announced that the DC character would be making it’s way to the big screen by way of Crank filmmakers Mark Neveldine and Brain Taylor. Also set for the film to produce is Oscar winner Akiva Goldsman (Batman & Robin, The Da Vinci Code) along with Andrew Lazar’s Mad Chance Productions.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, "The filmmakers are not making a straight-ahead Western but plan to develop the character with some of the supernatural overtones in the hopes of creating a franchise."
Earlier in 2008, it was reported that Thomas Jane wanted the role badly enough that he put himself through a makeup test to prove that he was right for the rile, but then Variety confirmed in October that Josh Brolin is in talks with Warner for the titular role, and speculation was great that Brolin had already signed a deal. The film is set to shoot in the spring for a 2010 release.
Peter Segal most recently was quoted as saying earlier this year, "We’re still working on the script." He then added, "An interesting little development, but it’s an annoying one, is that after a strike there are residual effects and one was that everyone who was a writer suddenly had a back log of assignments as did John August, so we started to do our re-write process but he had to service some of these other prior commitments. So now we’re kind of waiting in line to get him back but it’s worked out okay because we’ve been working on the marketing of this and getting this going, so we’ve been doing enough to keep ourselves busy and as soon as this movie gets released then we’re going to focus again on Billy Batson and the Legend of Shazam."
Of course, the script was first handled by the legendary William Goldman but New Line abandoned it and turned it over to August. He last blogged about it in February, writing, “I spent the weekend barricaded at the Disney Grand Californian working on the next draft of Shazam! I’d gotten the studio and producer notes just before the strike, so this was my first chance to address them. It was great having a three-month break from the script, because it meant I could look at it with fresh eyes.
“There are some web reports out of WonderCon about a possible title change to something longer and more Harry Potter-ish. Nothing’s decided yet. Obviously, one of the challenges with the property is that an audience will automatically assume that the hero’s name is Shazam, when it’s not.”
In an interview done with Verheiden in April, he told ComicMix that he handed in a treatment for the film to Warner Bros right before the writers’ strike, and once things settled down, the plan was back on. Verheiden’s plan included a Nightwing story, but also included Robin. “We’ll also be dealing with a transitional period in the lives of the Teen Titans. It will be a huge, fun, action movie but it’s the characters first. What makes them interesting and exciting? That’s how I approach any story.”
Verheiden also stated that Warner was a bit particular about what he was allowed to include in the script, “Its two things, really: One, they are absolutely committed to doing this movie. Two, they are absolutely committed to doing it right, so the fans who love and revere it will get something they love and doesn’t make their heads explode.”
In asking what his “take” on the film would be, Verheiden stated that it wouldn’t be grim or gritty like a Dark Knight, but still trying to keep it as real as possible, given today’s circumstances. Verheiden went on, “when I first started thinking about it, I wondered what it would be like, for example, to be Tom Cruise’s son if you wanted to get into acting. You have a lot of baggage to overcome. It’s the same with this story. It’s no secret Robin is in this movie, so what if you were him, after living in the shadow of Bruce Wayne and Batman, and now you wanted to go off on your own and become your own man, your own superhero? That’s got to be a huge thing to overcome.”
Word is, the project has quietly died although nothing official has been announced.
For a period of time in the late 1980s early 1990s, Arnold Schwarzenegger was attached to the role, despite the seeming incongruity of an Austrian actor playing an American G.I. in WW II. Screenplays were written by John Milius and David Peoples, the latter depicting Rock as having a German-American father and being able to speak German (a skill he uses to ambush the enemy). At a later point, Bruce Willis was said to have been in line to become the legendary soldier.
Producer Joel Silver is still attempting to make a Sgt. Rock movie. John Cox has written the latest screenplay, which is not based on any of the previous screenplay drafts. Cox has stated that Governor Schwarzenegger is no longer attached to star in the project. In April 2007, David Gambino, VP at Silver Pictures said, "The good news is we have a fantastic screenplay and everybody’s really happy with it. It’s really just about trying to attach cast right now and really decide what the movie is going to be, how we’re going to make it."
Guy Richie expressed interest just last month in doing an adaptation of Rock. He’s currently writing his own graphic novel, Gameskeeper, and in talks with Silver, who he worked with on Rock’N’Rolla, about putting together a Sgt. Rock film.
Variety reported on July 19, 2006 that Warner Bros. had hired relative unknown Adam Turner to pen a screenplay to bring the Doom Patrol to the big screen. The story was to be a companion to Marvel’s X-Men films with the band of freakish super-heroes. Akiva Goldsman (Batman & Robin) was slated to producing the film along with Weed Road’s Kerry Foster and Matt Smith. “These are some of the most original, offbeat comic book characters we have ever come across, and Adam Turner’s unique sensibility makes him a perfect fit for the material,” Goldsman told Daily Variety. Given the little comment about this project, we’re presuming it is now dead.
A live action TV series for the cable-based TNT was under development in 2000, but was eventually shelved.
Variety reported in July 2006 that Warner Brothers had an option to adapt Deadman for the big screen, to be produced by Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy) and Angryfilms’ Don Murphy and his producing partner, Susan Montford.
In December 2006, Warner hired Gary Dauberman to pen the film after they were impressed by a Western Zombie spec script he had written. The character is Boston Brand, former circus trapeze artist, now a ghost. He was murdered during a performance by an unknown assailant with a hook for a hand, but Brand’s spirit was granted the power to possess the living in order to search for his murderer, as well as to help the innocent. Given the little comment about this project, we’re presuming it is now dead.
Coming next: A look at Vertigo and WildStorm properties in development.