Over the years, there have been plenty of films that never got to see the light of day. While Marvel may be one of the most successful cinematic worlds in existence, it doesn’t mean that the mega-franchise doesn’t have its fair share of movies that fell apart at the seams or were outright canceled. Whether it be from leases expiring on certain rights to characters or just failures at the box office, Marvel has one of the biggest slates of canceled films to date.
Some of these canceled films and characters might be making a comeback in the near future given Marvel’s knack for fan service, so we thought it only fitting to gather our list of top ten Marvel films that never saw the light of day.
Warning: The following article contains spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home. Please proceed with caution if you have yet to see the film.
10. Hulk 2
Starring Eric Bana in the title role, the first incarnation of Hulk was an impressive hit for Universal in 2003, almost doubling the production value, which for any film would almost guarantee a sequel. However, this was not the case for Hulk, after a bunch of production delays and an intended release date set for 2005 never reached fruition. The Hulk 2 was eventually canceled in favor of a reboot of both the character’s story and a recasting of the lead actor.
This reboot, as all fans know, was a failed attempt, as The Incredible Hulk did not wow audiences and only made a fraction more than its predecessor. The Hulk was eventually reintroduced in Marvel’s Avengers, and though Mark Ruffalo’s iteration has yet to get his own solo film, he has been the most well-received version of the character to date.
The Hulk will next appear in She-Hulk on Disney Plus in 2022.
9. Spider-Man 4, 5, and 6
Sam Raimi, who brought Spider-Man to life three times on the big screen, had three other films planned, but after being halted by disagreements regarding scripts and which antagonists would appear for the fourth film, Raimi left the production in 2009. What soon followed was a crumbling effect, with Tobey Maguire swiftly exiting after Raimi, leaving only screenwriter James Vanderbilt behind. Vanderbilt then turned his iteration into what fans now know as The Amazing Spider-Man.
The deterioration of Spider-Man 4, 5, and 6 didn’t deter Raimi, as he is back at the directing helm with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, while Maguire recently appeared in the latest Spider-Man: No Way Home. While it is uncertain if Maguire will return again for any future Marvel films, fans at least got a peaceful ending with his version of Spider-Man and, as we know with Marvel, there is always a way to come back.
8. The Amazing Spider-Man 3
Like its predecessor, this planned trilogy came to an abrupt end. The Amazing Spider-Man 3 had been planned and slated for release in 2017, but when Disney and Sony were unable to reach a deal with their films, it meant that The Amazing Spider-Man would have continued on without Marvel’s involvement. However, due to the negative reception of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Sony and Disney renegotiated their deal.
From insider information, fans surmised that the third film would have introduced Mary Jane Watson and more villains, such as Kraven the Hunter, Black Cat, and The Sinister Six, but unfortunately, with the plethora of aforementioned issues as well as Andrew Garfield’s contract expiry, the third film was eventually pushed back four years before finally being canceled in Feb. 2015 to make way for Tom Holland’s MCU Spider-Man, who was introduced in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.
The fateful Inhumans, a failed TV show and a planned film for Phase Three of the MCU, once had a promising future. Back in 2014, it seemed as if the Inhumans were the next big family to be brought into the MCU as Kevin Feige introduced them during an unveiling of MCU film lineups. Feige announced to an excited crowd that Inhumans would be released on Nov. 2, 2018. However, no more than a few months after announcing the film, it was delayed to July 2019, and then in 2016, was removed from the MCU lineup entirely.
While some thought it was the end of Inhumans, the family was ultimately adapted into a disastrous ABC televised miniseries. After drastically failing to capture fans and ratings, the series was canceled and swept under a rug to be forgotten by all. Despite that unsavory fate, the Inhumans’ future has recently been earning some attention with rumors of one character appearing in the upcoming Doctor Strange sequel. Fans will have to wait until May 6 to find out if those rumors hold any truth. In the meantime, if fans are in the mood for an ensemble film, Eternals releases on Disney Plus on Jan. 12.
6. Kitty Pryde
In 2018, there were rumblings of a Kitty Pryde solo film in development, with Tim Miller attached to helm the project. It was code-named 143, though at the time it was unconfirmed whether or not Elliot Page was set to return as the character he originated in the ill-fated X-Men: The Last Stand. The character later reappeared in Days of Future Past in an important role, but since then the character has disappeared. However, since the merger of Disney and Fox, it’s safe to assume that this film, like many others, was canned in favor of a reboot of the entire X-Men slate.
5. Ghost Rider 3
After two somewhat successful films with Columbia Pictures, Ghost Rider 3 seemed to be a sure thing; however, after a plethora of awful reviews and failure to reach the same box office dollars as the first film, Nicolas Cage said he was done with the character. Then in 2013, the rights to Johnny Blaze were reverted back to Marvel Studios and any future plans were forgotten. Yet fatefully in 2016, an iteration of the character appeared in ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., though he donned the name of Robbie Reyes. The character was introduced in season four for ten episodes. Though the series was later canceled, actor Gabriel Luna has expressed dire interest to return as the character.
While rumors still swirl about the return of Ghost Rider, thanks in part to a fan-favorite actor teasing fans by liking a bunch of casting rumors, nothing has been confirmed for the reappearance of the flamed rider in MCU.
4. X-Men Origins: Magneto
While Wolverine was the only mutant to get his own spin-off films and sequels, there were many ideas and some conceptions for other mutants to get the same treatment. Writer Sheldon Turner originally pitched an origin film for Magneto, which David S. Goyer was hired to direct, and though no release date was set, production was put on hold indefinitely in 2007. Eventually, the plans for Magneto’s Origins were scrapped and Turner’s story was used as the basis for the rebooted X-Men series, starting with X-Men: First Class. The film saw younger versions of both Magneto and Charles Xavier and introduced a backstory for both as well as something of an origin story for the formation of the X-Men.
4. Sinister Six
When The Amazing Spider-Man 3 was pushed back, it allowed Sony to work on their attempt at a film for the Sinister Six, which had a potential release date of Nov. 11, 2016. Set to follow the events of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, with Harry Osborn admitted to Ravencroft, the film would have followed a range of villains that Peter Parker would have had to face off against, but due to Sony’s deal with Marvel, this film was scrapped.
Spider-Man: No Way Home introduced half of the Sinister Six, and while it seemed as if they were turned back into good guys from the efforts of the three Spider-Men, fans will have to wait and see if they return in the future.
When Guardians of the Galaxy was in production, director James Gunn proposed the idea of a film based upon the Thunderbolts, a team consisting mostly of reformed supervillains. Marvel Studios President Kevin Fiege told Gunn that pending the success of Guardians, it could be a possibility.
However, come 2021, Gunn was no longer interested and instead directed The Suicide Squad, stating that he had “scratched that itch.” Whether or not Gunn gets re-involved, rumors have been circulating about the possibility of a 2023 production, which would make sense. After all, the MCU has been introducing an awful lot of characters that could form the Thunderbolts, including Red Hulk, Taskmaster, Ghost from Ant-Man and the Wasp, Baron Zemo, and Yelena Belova.
2. FANT4STIC 2 (Reboot)
Like its predecessor, the reboot of Marvel’s first family was received by fans as a terrible reboot. The film was also an exponential failure at the box office, only making $167 million and a drab $40 million dollar profit. On top of that, reviews were poor, to say the least. IGN’s review called it “aesthetically drab and dramatically inert.”
However, the studio still planned a sequel that was even given a release date of sometime in 2017, but as it entered pre-production, the film came to a standstill when the studio failed to retain the rights. Fans thankfully rejoiced when it was canceled in 2015 as Marvel announced that it had reclaimed its right for all future use of the first family.
Fantastic 4 has been announced for a 2023 reboot, with Spider-Man’s John Watts directing.
Perhaps the most controversial of all of Marvel’s cancellations is Gambit, the famous mutant card-slinger who was to be played by Channing Tatum, a self-professed fan of the mutant. In 2019, filming had already begun and the majority of the cast set, including Léa Seydoux and Lizzy Caplan, but the release date was rescheduled four times before filming began. Sadly, after a month of filming, production was halted and it was announced that Disney had optioned to cancel Gambit, choosing to introduce the X-Men into the MCU at a later date.
Will any of these heroes’ stories ⏤ rebooted or otherwise ⏤ ever reach the big screen, or are they destined for a life of failure? Marvel fans will have to hang tight and see what we find out as Phase Four continues to unfold.