This list is not a ranking, the list items are presented in no particular order.
The superhero genre has been a prominently growing force in the world of Hollywood for the last few decades, with dozens of new projects being either discussed or developed every single year, however, not all superhero movies get to see the light of day, some even being planned sequels that studios originally would have imagined becoming smash hits.
Despite the majority of cancelled superhero movies being directly based on a popular comic series, from companies such as Marvel or DC, a lot of projects end up getting put in the bin and are never talked about again, well, apart from in lists such as this one where we go through the top 10 cancelled superhero movies that still get talked about even today.
10/10 – Superman Lives (aka Superman Reborn)
One of the most talked about cancelled superhero movies of all time is Tim Burton’s axed Superman movie, which would have seen Nicolas Cage don the suit as the leading role, with the movie itself originally being set to be titled Superman Reborn and later being changed to the now extremely ironic title Superman Lives.
Burton wanted to put Cage up against 3 iconic DC villains for his Superman movie, those villains being Lex Luthor, Brainiac, and even Doomsday who later ended up becoming the live-action villain to Henry Cavill’s Superman in Zack Snyder’s Batman Vs. Superman – Nevertheless, despite the movie itself being thrown into the garbage, superhero fans can still at least see Cage wearing the suit as screen test images and videos can still be found online.
09/10 – Hellboy III (Hellboy 3)
Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy 3, the originally planned sequel to both Hellboy and Hellboy II: The Golden Army, which starred Ron Perlman as the red-skinned hornless crime-fighter, is one of the more upsetting cancellations in the movie world, at least to the fans who wanted to see the franchise continue for a bit longer.
Funnily enough, however, the reasoning behind this axed project wasn’t due to the higher-ups at the studio, at least not entirely that is, as Guillermo del Toro walked away from the project due to issues with being replaced as the director, which ultimately ended up with the screenplay never being developed and the lead actor following suit.
08/10 – Ben Affleck’s The Batman
It’s been common knowledge in the comic book world that Warner Bros. Pictures’ DC franchise has had more downs than ups throughout the years, with movies such as Batman Vs. Superman just not hitting it off with the majority of the DC fanbase.
However, that didn’t stop Ben Affleck at first as he was originally set to both direct and star in a Batman movie post-Justice League but ended up stepping away mostly due to the mass amount of negative criticism toward the DC movies over the years.
07/10 – X-Men Origins: Magneto
If you’ve watched or heard of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which starred Hugh Jackman telling the story of Wolverine’s earlier years, then this one shouldn’t be too much of a surprise as it seems the studio originally thought that the ‘Origins’ idea was long-term franchise material.
Ian McKellen, who starred as Magneto in multiple X-Men movies at 20th Century Fox, was originally set to star, however, the movie ended up being scrapped due to various reasons and later adapted into the plot of X-Men: First Class.
06/10 – Cyborg (Ray Fisher)
It has been pretty clear that Warner Bros. Pictures want to build a successful live-action DC universe of movies and tv shows since, well since forever, with projects being cancelled either due to the bad reception of its predecessors or actors simply just walking away such as Ben Affleck did with his Batman project.
Another actor who clashed with the studio and ultimately ended up walking away was Ray Fisher, who starred as Cyborg in Justice League and was in the pipeline to getting his spin-off project but walked away due to issues with DC films.
05/10 – Batman: Year One
Another interesting DC movie that ended up being cancelled was Batman: Year One, which was thought up years before the Christian Bale-led Batman movies directed by Christopher Nolan, and almost even saw Joaquin Phoenix take up the role.
Few details about this project have been shared throughout the years, mostly due to it not being developed as far as some other cancelled superhero movies, however, the story was confirmed to tell the origin story of Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, but was not going to use the original Frank Miller comic storylines.
04/10 – James Cameron’s Spider-Man
When movie fans hear the name James Cameron, they tend to think about titles such as Avatar or Titanic, however, did you know that Cameron almost got his hands on a Spider-Man movie, before Sony got their hands on the movie rights for the Tobey Maguire-led 2002 Spider-Man movie directed by Sam Raimi.
Cameron’s Spider-Man was drafted during the early to mid-1990s, with a script even existing pre-Sony acquiring the rights, which ended up being used as inspiration for Raimi’s Spider-Man movie, starring Tobey Maguire as the famous web-slinger.
03/10 – Man of Steel 2 (Henry Cavill)
This one is still a stinger – Henry Cavill was announced in 2022 to be returning as Superman for Warner Bros. Pictures, even starring in the post-credit scene of Black Adam, which was a huge relief for millions of DC fans as Man of Steel 2 finally became a reality.
However, this all came to a quick and sudden end when Warner Bros. Pictures appointed James Gunn and Peter Safran to bring a new lease of life to their DC universe of projects, effectively rebooting the whole DC franchise at the studio, and axing Cavill only months after he had returned to the role of Superman.
02/10 – Spider-Man 4 (Tobey Maguire)
It’s still a sad thought for most Spidey fans when thinking back to the fact that Tobey Maguire almost returned for a fourth Spider-Man movie directed by Sam Raimi during the prime era of the Maguire-led Spider-Man movies.
The cast and crew were all set to get to work on the next instalment before Sony ultimately cancelled the project due to the poor reception of Spider-Man 3, with Spider-Man: No Way Home thankfully redeeming this by featuring the return of Maguire as Spider-Man for the live-action Spider-Verse seen in the MCU.
01/10 – The Amazing Spider-Man 3 (Andrew Garfield)
Despite The Amazing Spider-Man 3 being yet another cancelled superhero movie, there is some hope left in the hearts of Marvel fans that this project may get to see the light of day in the future, as Andrew Garfield is technically back as Spider-Man due to the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home – but as of creating this list, the Garfield-led Spidey threequel is still considered to be a cancelled project.
The cast and crew of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 were all set to return for a third instalment before Marvel Studios ended up making a deal to get Spidey thrown into the MCU movies, which saw Tom Holland replace Garfield as the studio wanted to go with a younger actor to focus more on Peter Parker as opposed to Spider-Man himself.
However, Garfield’s return to the suit in No Way Home back in 2021 not only broke the internet but also sparked millions of fans speculating that that may not be the last time we see or hear his Spidey in either Marvel Studios or Sony’s Marvel movies and/or tv shows.