6 undeveloped movie scripts that were turned into comic books

Cavalcade Comics

This week the topic for The League is “comic books”. Yep, just “comic books”. I recently did an article about comic book covers that homage famous movie posters, so that idea was already burned. Fortunately, my draft articles are deep with ideas so I pulled this one out of the depths and fleshed it out a bit.

I love movies.  I love comic books.  I love comic book movies.  We have tons of movies coming out BASED on comics books.  But how about comic books based on movies?  There are plenty of those as well.  But what about comic books that are based on movies that never were made for whatever reason.  Ahhh, that could be interesting.

Today, I’m going to talk about six undeveloped movie scripts that were turned into comic books.

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Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet – These first two entries are probably the most high profile examples of unused movie scripts becoming a comic book.  In 2004, Smith wrote a screenplay for a new film version of The Green Hornet.  Much like the next script in this list, it was a reboot of the characters and the concept.  Smith even announced that he intended to direct the feature as well.  The project, however, died after the poor box office of Smith’s Jersey Girl.  Dynamite Comics purchased the unused script and had Kevin Smith adapt it into a new Green Hornet comic series.

Kevin Smith's Bionic Man
Kevin Smith’s Bionic Man (2011) – I talked about this series in my Bionic Reviews feature a month or so ago.  Kevin Smith wrote a screenplay for a new Bionic Man movie back in the 90s. It was a reboot of the characters and concept of the Six Million Dollar Man TV series.  It ultimately went unused.  However, after the success of Smith’s Green Hornet title they asked if he had any other unused scripts to adapt.  Smith pulled out the Bionic Man script and Dynamite loved the idea.  They tapped Phil Hester to adapt the screenplay into a 10 issue story arc to launch a new Bionic Man comic series that is still being published to this day.  It has also spawned a Bionic Woman comic series.

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Frank Miller’s Robocop (2003) – During initial production of Robocop 2, there was a first draft script by one of the original Robocop screenwriters, Edward Neumeier. However, due to a writers strike he dropped out. One of the producers contacted Frank Miller to write the script as Miller was still riding the success of his Dark Knight Returns graphic novel. Miller wrote a draft that producers and studio executives labeled “unfilmable” and the studio had the script rewritten into what eventually became Robocop 2, the movie.  In the early 2000s Avatar Press acquired the Robocop comic license and the publisher William Christensen, who owned a copy of Miller’s “lost” original screenplay, contacted Miller about adapting it into a comic story.  Miller was enthusiastic and worked with Steven Grant to adapt his unused screenplay (which included notes for Robocop 3) into a story.  Due to scheduling conflicts, Miller was only able to contribute some of the covers and not actually write or draw the interiors.  The nine issue adaptation was published in late 2003.

Freddy vs Jason vs Ash
Jeff Katz’s Freddy vs Jason vs Ash (2003) – I reviewed this comic for AWESOME-tober-fest last year. Katz wrote the original script treatment as a sequel to Freddy vs Jason and the Evil Dead movies. The studios ran with it for a while but ultimately decided not to make it. I think the licensing for Ash may have fallen through. However, Katz actively campaigned to have his script turned into a comic and Dynamite and Wildstorm Comics took him up on it and adapted Katz’s script into a comic mini-series in 2003.  The script was adapted by James Kuhoric with input by Katz. The comic was popular enough to receive a sequel in 2009 called Freddy vs Jason vs Ash: Nightmare Warriors (also reviewed in that AWESOME-tober-fest article).

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Frank Miller’s Daredevil: Man Without Fear (1993) – Marvel had Frank Miller write a script treatment for a Daredevil movie they were planning. It involved a retelling of the character’s origins and his relationship with the assassin Elektra. The movie never materialized, so Miller adapted the script he wrote into the 1993 five issue limited series, Daredevil: The Man Without Fear.

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Darren Arnofsky’s The Batman – The Bat franchise was in shambles after Joel Schumacher destroyed it with Batman & Robin in 1997.  Schumacher pitched Warner Brothers a followup called Batman Triumphant (which should get its own comic adaptation some day) in 1999, but Warner Brothers began talking with indie film director Darren Arnofsky, fresh off his indie success, Pi, about what he’d do with Batman.  Arnofsky told them, “…cast Clint Eastwood as the Dark Knight, and shoot it in Tokyo, doubling for Gotham City.”  This got Warner Brothers’ attention and they commissioned a screenplay.  Interestingly, Arnofsky already had a good working relationship with Frank Miller, from Daredevil and Robocop above, after they had collaborated on an unfinished adaptation of Miller’s comic Ronin.  Arnofsky brought in Miller to help adapt Miller’s own Batman: Year One.  Miller and Arnofsky took many liberties with the Year One story within their script.  The script is described as being part Serpico and part Taxi Driver.  Eventually, Warner Brothers realized the movie was too dark and gritty and too much a departure for a Batman movie and shelved the project.  However, in 2011, Arnofsky told Clothes on Film that he was working on getting his and Miller’s unused Batman script made into a comic.  And from there, “…we’ll see”.  The comic has not been given a release date yet.

Check out some other comic book-y articles from around The League:
My buddy Shawn tells a very personal story about retrieving some comics from his youth
Tim Lybarger talks about the crappiest comic he’s ever owned.
The Goodwill Geek lists their favorite 10 comics
The blog for the awesome Cold Slither Podcast takes the opportunity to talk about Aunt May.
Dan at thirtyishyearoldboy talks about the first comics he owned and read

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One Response to “6 undeveloped movie scripts that were turned into comic books”

  1. Little Known fact – I’m actually killed in Freddy vs. Ash vs. Jason. Jim Kuhoric’s a friend of mine, and used to be my boss. All of my coworkers will killed as “Carolers”, but the artist drew the scene before he got photo reference. I think the name “Will” is used, too. I honestly haven’t read it yet, but it’s been in my “To Read” box for years.

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