Zack Snyder’s Justice League has won over the critics, much to their own surprise. So which other superhero movies deserve to be revisited and revamped?
When Justice League was released back in 2017 it faced a barrage of criticism and ridicule, and DC Comics’ attempt to match the astronomical success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe lay in tatters. A mess of a movie, it spurred dedicated fans to request that it be reshot according to the exact wishes of Zack Snyder, the original director who dropped out during post-production to be replaced by Joss Whedon.
This movement itself, under the banner of #ReleaseTheSnyderCut, was mocked even more savagely than the film – but since the finished product achieved 75% on Rotten Tomatoes (compared to its forerunner’s abject 40% score), who’s laughing now?
Well, truth be told, it’s still not people watching Zack Snyder’s typically humourless film, but they might at least be feeling vindicated by their faith in his vision.
This reputational rehabilitation has got me thinking – how many other unearthed gems, ripe for a reimagining, are hidden in plain sight among the smorgasbord of superhero movies released since the new millennium?
Ang Lee’s Hulk
A strange choice of director for this kind of blockbuster in the first place, Ang Lee helmed the first Hulk movie and the results were disappointing to say the least; the critical flop prompted Lee to consider early retirement from the industry. Having said that, even the MCU reboot The Incredible Hulk struggled to impress and often seems to be forgotten when people think back over the Marvel movies, with Edward Norton having been unceremoniously ditched and replaced by Mark Ruffalo in future film appearances.
But imagine if this auteur had been given free rein to twin the iconic swashbuckling scenes of his martial arts masterpiece Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon with the sensitive soul-searching of Hollywood’s most celebrated gay love story; Brokeback Bruce Banner, anyone?
Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man
Known for his multi-layered comedy capers such as Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Edgar Wright was onboard the Ant-Man project for eight years, from 2006 to 2014, when his creative disagreements proved too much to take, with Peyton Reed replacing him in the director’s chair.
But just imagine if this movie had been repositioned as the final chapter of the so-called Cornetto trilogy, rather than the wet fart of The World’s End. A gentle superhero satire would be well in order by this point, and it’s not hard to imagine how it could take shape: Nick Frost as the mighty but miniature superhero, Sean Pegg as the brains behind the brawn — all set in a sleepy suburbia somewhere in the shires. Now we’re talking.
Kenneth Branagh’s Thor
Thor isn’t a bad Marvel movie by any means, but like so many entries in the series it does feel as formulaic as “painting by numbers”, especially compared with Taika Waititi’s comedy kaleidoscope Thor Ragnarok.
However, that was when Sir Kenneth Branagh’s proud pedigree in Shakespearean adaptations (from Henry V to Hamlet) was sadly overlooked. So I say: bring on the Bard! Rather than being yet another movie full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, we could have had Chris Hemsworth struggling to recite blank verse in the presence of two of our greatest thespians, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Tom Hiddleston. Friends, Asgardians, countrymen, lend me your ears!
Tim Burton’s Superman Lives
Everyone’s favourite eccentric goth uncle has already contributed two of the best superhero adaptations to our screens, namely Batman and Batman Returns, but for a time in the nineties Tim Burton was also attached to a revival of the Superman series, called Superman Lives, in which an evil mastermind plans to block out the sun (yes, Simpsons did it first). I haven’t even told you the best bit yet: the Man of Steel was to be played by the master of understatement himself, Nicolas Cage.
It just makes me weep to think of all the internet memes that could have emerged from such a crackpot collaboration. If Warner Bros could spare $70 million to realise the Snyder Cut, the company owes it to the annals of comedy to blow its budget on this box office bomb that never was.
Someone Else’s The Dark Knight Rises
Thus far I have implored studios to let their metteurs-en-scène make merry by throwing caution to the wind, but this time around The Dark Knight Rises would actually benefit from being directed by someone who isn’t intoxicated by the smell of their own farts. TDKR marks the mid-point between Nolan’s box-office conquering but thought-provoking spectacles, like The Dark Knight and Inception, and the turgid turkey that was Tenet.
In case you’ve forgotten this movie (and I don’t blame you), it mostly consists of Tom Hardy dong his usual trick of managing to be immensely charismatic with both his face and voice completely obscured, while fighting against Christian Bale doing exactly the same thing himself. But that was the least of this movie’s worries – just to recap:
- Every single police officer in the city is trapped in the sewers after they are tricked into all going down there together at the exact same time
- Bruce Wayne mends his broken back and then masters free solo climbing by just, erm, concentrating really hard
- Fight scenes are so poorly choreographed that participants simply fling themselves to the floor untouched
- Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard performs the least convincing last-gasp death scene on celluloid, a moment that’s haunted the poor woman’s career ever since
From the mind of the man behind Memento, this film really could have done with a bit more careful thought. Give the bloke a break and let another exciting new director approach the final chapter of one of cinema’s best trilogies with a fresh set of eyes.
Let me know in the poll below which of these hypothetical hits you’d most like to see, and with enough luck we’ll trigger our own social media campaign to get it on our screens now the precedent has been set by Snyder’s adoring fanbase.