By Gabe Toro | The Playlist December 10, 2010 at 8:00AM
“Justice League: Mortal"
What Killed It? Always sheepish on their superhero properties, Warner Bros. decided to take the jump with an impending writer’s strike. They settled on a good-enough script for a Justice League movie penned by frosh scribes Kieran Murloney and Michele Mulroney, a massive action spectacle featuring most of the popular characters from the team’s history. With a massive effects budget, and with “Mad Max” director George Miller at the helm, the choice was to go with complete unknowns, Armie Hammer, D.J. Cotrona and Teresa Palmer and Adam Brody signed as Batman, Superman, the villain Talia Al Ghul and The Flash, respectively. But a rapidly-ballooning budget put the eleventh hour kibosh on the film.
How Can It Be Resurrected? Well, should it be resurrected? Warner Bros. would risk alienating Chris Nolan, who has repeatedly claimed he had zero interest in seeing Superman and Batman together on the big screen. Still, the things we heard about this project, particularly on how they had on-call psychiatrists for each actor to bring their characters to life, sounded kind of exciting. And Jay Baruchel, who was signed to play the villainous Maxwell Lord (dubious, but whatever), revealed that it would have been a “dark” and “brutal” (and "expensive") film. But if there was a way to utilize the work that was put into the film thus far, and maybe refashion it as a picture without Batman or Superman, but instead with Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern leading the brigade? As long as we could keep George Miller, we’d say commission that rewrite immediately.
What Killed It? “Megalopolis” is one of the great what-ifs in cinematic history. Francis Ford Coppola had reportedly spent years writing this epic story about a man with riches beyond his dreams who builds his own utopia in New York City. Table readings were the stuff of legend, with actors like Kevin Spacey and Warren Beatty auditioning for parts alongside almost every leading man of a certain age that was available. Coppola’s vision was large, expensive, and as was said about the story, hopeful. Then, September 11th hit and Coppola reportedly shelved the script, too affected by the ensuing tragedy. Or so the story goes.
How Can It Be Resurrected? It’s funny that in Coppola’s film sabbatical, he was more likely to get the budget for this film than he would be today despite shooting three films in six years (“Twixt Now And Sunrise” being his latest, due this year). His latest interests are small, intimate stories, so his hunger to work on a different scale with more experimental storytelling may have curbed his urge for something epic. But the script, seen by few, has already attained legendary status, and it seems like the type of project that, unless protected under lock and key by family, would be made by someone long after Coppola’s passing. Why not pull it out of the dustbin, offer a rewrite to an Eric Roth, and let another filmmaker tackle the material with Coppola’s blessing?
What Killed It? Oliver Stone was set to jump into this drama about the My Lai massacre with a cast that included Bruce Willis and Channing Tatum, until eleventh hour reconsiderations about cost and subject matter left the film stranded. Which is disappointing, as Stone has worked with broad targets on “World Trade Center” (That Was A Terrible Day), “W” (He Was A Terrible Man) and “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” (Greed Is Terrible), so it would be exciting to see him tackling a sore spot that remains controversial for many.
How Can It Be Resurrected? It’s worth reminding the money men that after “Alexander,” his last three films performed decently compared to their budgets. Stone still has some box office cachet, and together with Willis and Tatum, that’s a solid enough foundation to build a financially risky picture. All they would have to do is find one of those crafty Euro indie companies (Wild Bunch?) to put up most of the capital and sell overseas rights to a “Bruce Willis action movie” so that a profit is guaranteed before Americans see a single frame.