This week we got the announcement that Genndy Tartakovsky’s take on Luke Cage is finally going to see the light of day after being announced all the way back in 2007. That’s a long gap and I don’t think anyone honestly thought we would ever see it. But there it is, it’s finally coming our way.
So in what has become an annual tradition for this column, I decided I would do some digging and shine a light on some other projects that have gone missing in action. Movies, comics, television, there’s a ton of things that have been announced and then quietly disappear. Let’s see if we can find out where things stand.
In 2007, Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman teamed up with Rob Liefeld for a Killraven mini-series. It was supposed to be released in 2008 and then nothing. It quietly went away for a while until 2011 when Rob Liefeld mentioned it in a tweet and a war of words erupted between Liefeld and Marvel editor (now senior vice president of publishing) Tom Brevoort (Bleeding Cool did a great summary at the time). A nasty batch of tweets which ended up having Kirkman coming in claiming a cease fire. Now at the time, the argument from Liefeld was that the book was essentially done. Brevoort on the other hand argued it wasn’t. Liefeld would go on to work with DC and it looked like the project was dropped at whatever stage of completion it was at.
This is weird when you think about it. Liefeld always does okay in the sales department but with the addition of Kirkman, who is now has a much larger name in the comic industry then he was at the time of the project’s creation, would ensure some good numbers. Currently, Liefeld seems to be back in the good graces of Marvel so maybe we’ll see a resurrection of Killraven yet.
Damage Control TV Series
A pilot for the adaptation of the Marvel series about working stiffs cleaning up after superheroes was greenlit by ABC in 2015 but we’ve heard of little to no movement on it. The president of ABC, Paul Lee, has mentioned that the series is coming in 2016 (possibly meaning the 2016/2017 season) but nothing else has been announced. No casting or filming news has popped up. Given the reported problems between the two sides of the Marvel coin, this may be held up for a little longer but I wouldn’t be surprised if we get an announcement around San Diego with an aim at being a mid-season break, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. filler in the same way Agent Carter was for the past two years.
Frank Miller’s Xerxes and JESUS!
Let’s start with Xerxes, Miller’s expansion on his 300 story. It was previewed in an issue of Dark Horse Presents in 2010 and that’s all we saw of it. According to various sources, there are at least two issues of the series done but it had been set aside at the time due to Miller’s film commitments. Those film commitments are over but Miller did reportedly suffer from some health issues and was unable to draw for a period of time. It’s a project that I think we may see after his DKIII stories are done.
JESUS! On the other hand has had no public mentions and no preview art since it was first announced. Maybe Miller has moved on creatively. (In all honesty, I still find the title amazing: It’s in all caps with an exclamation point!)
Robert Rodriguez’s Barbarella, Red Sonja, Fire and Ice, Heavy Metal, Battle Angel Alita and Madman
I know it’s a minor miracle when any movie gets financed and goes into production but Rodriguez is probably number 2 (the first being Guillermo del Toro but he would get a whole column to himself) in geeky Hollywood for announcing films that quickly disappear from public view. So let’s do a brief summary of each one, shall we?
Barbarella was announced in 2007 and was eyeing a 2008 release date. Rose McGowan was to star and at the time there were a couple of studios interested but two things came up. Universal wanted in but wanted to lower the budget and to recast the main character. Rodriguez did find a deal but it would have required him to shoot in Germany. At the time Rodriguez felt he didn’t want to be away from his kids that long and he moved on. The rights holders recently announced that Barbarella would return as a tv series from Amazon Prime with Nicolas Winding Refn attached as producer and possibly directing. But back to Rodriguez and McGowan. So they moved on from the project and to…
Red Sonja (she of red hair and chainmail bikini) was announced in 2008 with Rose McGowan, eyed for the lead. Rodriguez and McGowan broke up in 2009 and since then the rights holder, Nu Image, went with Simon West (Con Air, The Expendables 2) as a director. That version seemed to stall out around 2012. While I can’t be positive, there’s a good chance Nu Image will (if they haven’t already) let the film rights slide after the lackluster performance of Conan the Barbarian (which they also made and McGowan was in).
In 2009, still wanting to make a barbarian fantasy film, Rodriguez got the rights to do a live action remake of the animated film Fire and Ice. To me, this seemed like a fairly awesome idea (I’m a fan of the original film) but then we got radio silence until 2014 when Sony declared they were going to make the film with Rodriguez. But we may not see it for awhile due to another project on this list that we will get to in a bit.
In 2011, a new film based around Heavy Metal magazine was announced by Rodriguez but with a twist. He was going to make an animated film with a new animation studio which was an extension of his Troublemaker Studios. He even set up an open audition process for creators to submit to so they might be part of the film (which much like the original animated film, would be an anthology). Once again the film sunk into radio silence. This may not mean anything as animated films take a lot of time and if Rodriguez was creating a brand new animation studio to put it together, that would make the process even longer. I’d be curious to know if Kevin Eastman’s sale of the magazine and property in 2014 affected anything at all.
Battle Angel Alita is a manga that James Cameron had been determined to make into a film for years. The first inklings were confirmed in 2000 and it was supposed to be the next film after his underwater documentary, Aliens of the Deep. But then he got sidetracked by another project which turned out to be Avatar. Avatar was to be a trilogy… and then it came out and his pockets exploded from being filled with too much money. With more and more time growing between the first Avatar and it’s sequel, many people thought it was lost until this year when Robert Rodriguez stepped up to bat for directing and Cameron would produce. The movie is now called Alita: Battle Angel. Rosa Salazar has been cast as the lead and if all goes well, we may see this film in 2018.
Now, one thing that I had completely forgotten about but came up again in the process of researching this story is Rodriguez has the rights to turn Mike Allred’s Madman into a film. Not only that but he’s had the rights to do so since 1998. Mentions of this project show up from time to time and it appears that not only does Rodriguez want to make the film but Allred wants him to make it (why else would you keep upping with the same guy over and over again?). Any time it gets brought up, the two creators make it sound like it’s just over the horizon but nothing has materialized. Currently it doesn’t appear to be on anyone’s filming docket but given the speed that Rodriguez can shoot at, that may not mean anything.
And because these lost projects aren’t enough to keep his plate warm he’s also got a Johnny Quest project in some state of pre-production, a possible third Machete film and he’s the head of the El Rey network for which he occasionally creates and directs shows for.
If there is a comic, movie or tv show that you’re curious about but have no idea what’s going on with it, put your suggestions in the comment section below and I’ll have a look for a future column.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!