Every Unmade Kevin Smith Comic Book Movie & TV Show – Screen Rant

Between a Tim Burton-directed Superman movie, a Spawn spin-off, and a Howard the Duck series, Smith has been involved in so many comic book projects.
Kevin Smith is a man of many talents – a filmmaker, a podcaster, and an outspoken critic – but the auteur's most interesting projects are his comic book movies and TV shows that never got made. Smith became a talked-about 90s wunderkind with the cult classic comedy Clerks, and has since built a cinematic universe around it, known as the ViewAskweniverse, which includes Mallrats, the Jay and Silent Bob series, and many others. But while his vulgar comedy and profanity-filled cinematic universe arrived long before the MCU, he had a chance to direct a Marvel project of his own, along with some DC movies too.
Though Smith wouldn't be the first filmmaker producers would gravitate to for a comic book movie given his shock value humor, his movies endlessly reference superheroes and his personal favorite comics. Smith even created Bluntman and Chronic, his own superheroes inspired by Jay and Silent Bob in the ViewAskewniverse. Between a Tim Burton-directed Superman movie, a Spawn spin-off, and even a Howard the Duck TV series, Smith has been involved in so many comic book adaptations that unfortunately never saw the light of day. And given how transparent he is with his projects, he has detailed what happened to every one of them.
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Superman Lives is one of the most talked-about canceled superhero movies in history, as it was so far into production, had Tim Burton attached to direct, and had Nicolas Cage attached to star as the Man of Steel. Superman Lives could have created the DCEU well over a decade before Man of Steel was released too, as Keaton had agreed to reprise his role as Bruce Wayne. Smith was hired to write the movie in 1996, and it was even the writer's suggestion to hire Burton, meaning that Smith essentially hired the person that would fire him from the project.
When Burton agreed to direct the movie, he started demanding rewrites that Smith wasn't happy with, and producer Jon Peters asked for Superman to fight a giant mechanical spider in the final act (as explained by Smith in a Q&A on YouTube). Ultimately, Superman Lives was canceled despite the potential it had and the talented names attached. It's such a storied unrealized project there's a documentary, The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened? that gets to the bottom of the troubled production. Peters did get his mechanical spider into a film in the end, as he also produced Wild Wild West.
The Green Hornet comic book has had a fewof major movie and TV adaptations. It became a popular TV show starring Bruce Lee in his breakthrough role as the hero's sidekick, Kato, and then a blockbuster action movie in 2011. The latter is considered one of Seth Rogen's worst movies. But it could have been a lot different, as Smith was originally attached to both write and direct the movie in the 2000s. Smith had spoken with Jake Gyllenhaal about starring as the titular hero (via Indie Wire), but nothing has ever been revealed about who would have played the more interesting sidekick.
The Green Hornet wasn't canceled, but Smith left the project in 2006 for unknown reasons. Things could have gone either way, as Smith's humor isn't all that different from Rogen's movies, and his version of the hero could have been similarly comedy-oriented. However, he clearly has an affinity for the hero, as he's written a series of Green Hornet comic books himself, so it could just as easily have been a more faithful adaptation. A new reboot is in development, as Saw creator Leigh Whannell will direct The Green Hornet & Kato, and it's shaping up to be a much darker version than ever seen before.
RELATED: Leigh Whannell's Green Hornet Reboot Fixes A 56-Year-Old Kato Mistake
Heroes is a beloved 2000s sci-fi show that connects a group of citizens with unique powers, and it featured accompanying comic book lore. Following the phenomenal success of the first season, NBC not only renewed Heroes for a second season but announced a spin-off series called Heroes: Origins that would run alongside season 2. Each episode would follow a different and new superhero, and Smith was attached to write and direct one of the episodes. Given that the original series was fairly dark and that Smith was more interested in horror movies for the bulk of the 2010s, it would have been a perfect fit.
According to Sci-Fi, the project was canceled simply because the universe was expanding way too quickly and the creative team was being stretched too thin. Heroes did get a new show that's a lot like what the network was developing with Smith. However, 2015's Heroes: Reborn didn't resonate with fans of the original series, and it struggled to find a new audience. It has just 6.7 on IMDb and was mostly criticized for ignoring Heroes' existing world and lore. As Kevin Smith is an encyclopedia when it comes to fandom, Heroes: Origins could have been more tied to what made the original show great.
The violent comic book adaptation Spawn is getting a movie reboot, but the series is also known for characters other than the titular anti-hero. Sam and Twitch are two NYPD homicide detectives who became so popular that they got their own comic book series, and it's easy to imagine a David Fincher-like dark and gritty thriller movie about them. However, while the tone would be much different from Fincher's vision, Smith was attached to write and direct a Sam and Twitch series for BBC America. It was planned to be procedural with closed-ended episodes, a la Crime Scene Investigation (via Deadline).
Though the project hasn't been outright canceled, there haven't been any new updates on the series in years. Whether it's casting, production schedule, or story ideas, neither BBC America nor Smith have commented on it since the original announcement. It's possible that the project is still in development, but that's extremely unlikely. Given that Smith is so great at writing Jay and Silent Bob's mischievous antics, it would be fun to see that buddy-cop-like tone inside a procedural police TV series. However, Sam and Twitch will still be found in the upcoming Spawn movie, as Deadline also reported that Jeremy Renner will play Twitch.
RELATED: Spawn Could've Been A Great Superhero Movie (If It Was R-Rated)
While Plastic Man might not be an A-list superhero, he's starting to grow in popularity in the DC universe. The hero is elastic like Mr. Fantastic and is near-invincible, and as a result, he's laid back in battle and will make a witty remark before he saves the day. In that respect, Plastic Man is DC's perfect answer to Deadpool, and that's why Smith is the perfect writer to pen a Plastic Man screenplay. It was revealed in 2017 that Smith pitched the idea and wrote the screenplay for a Plastic Man animated movie, and the character would have been voiced by Jim Parsons (via CBR).
The filmmaker doesn't have much luck when it comes to DC projects, as the animated movie is seemingly in development hell. It has yet to see the light of day despite a completed screenplay, and it seems like a repeat of Superman Lives. Though it isn't clear if Plastic Man was a part of the DCU, it would have been welcomed with open arms following the dark and morbid Zack Snyder-directed DC movies. A Plastic Man movie would have been more in line with James Gunn's vision of the DCU than the Snyderverse, as the character has a lot in common with the zany characters of The Suicide Squad.
1993's Howard the Duck was actually the first ever major Marvel movie, only it doesn't have the reputation that the MCU does. And while Howard the Duck has shown up in scenes in Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Endgame, Smith was working on his own animated series based on the anthropomorphic duck. Smith revealed that the Darkhold, the book seen in WandaVision and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, would have had a big part in the show. Unfortunately, though the project was announced in just 2019, it was swiftly canceled the following year along with Tigra & Dazzler (via THR).
Howard the Duck needed his own TV show, as the cigar-smoking bird is too entertaining of a character, and he's been ignored by Marvel Studios for way too long, but canceling it seemed necessary. The show was being developed at a time when Marvel Television was coming to an end and Marvel Studios started focusing more on making series part of the MCU, which Howard the Duck wouldn't have been. Not only that, but as Smith speculated, as the Darkhold has played an imperative role in Phase 4 of the MCU, a cartoon focusing on the spellbook would have been counterintuitive.
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Currently splitting his time between Madrid and Chicago, Stephen Barker has been a staff writer at Screen Rant since 2020. Since graduating from Manchester Metropolitan University with a bachelor’s degree in Film, Television, and Cultural Studies in 2014, he has written for numerous movie and music websites. Visit Stephen’s personal blog, Quaranste, where he writes about guilty pleasure movies, his latest musical discoveries, and how he stays creative during global pandemics.


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