A version of Black Widow was almost released before Iron Man!
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is so expansive that it almost feels like the studio will greenlight anything. Add in the non-MCU Marvel movies and Sony’s Spider-Man Universe, and it’s hard to believe the production studios pass on anything.
However, a lot of amazing-sounding projects get canceled before they can make it to our screens.
Here are 14 Marvel movies and TV shows that we almost got:
In 2010, Marvel announced that the Tobey Maguire–led Spider-Man trilogy would be getting a Spider-Man 4.
However, right before production was set to begin, the crew received an email saying that they were pushing back shooting because “[director] Sam Raimi has story issues [that] need to be resolved before we are ready.”
Eventually, Raimi decided that he couldn’t both meet the studio’s deadline for a summer release and maintain creative integrity, so he pulled out of the franchise.
Rather than replace Raimi with a new director, the studio decided to cancel Spider-Man 4 and move forward with a reboot (The Amazing Spider-Man).
In 2014, Andrew Garfield and Sony’s then-CEO Kaz Hirai were set to announce The Amazing Spider-Man 3‘s 2016 release at a Sony gala in Rio de Janeiro.
However, Garfield got to Brazil late and wasn’t feeling very well, so he unfortunately had to back out only a few hours before the event.
The big presentation had to be changed pretty significantly, and — as the 2014 Sony email leak later revealed — the Sony execs were so upset that they fired Garfield and canned the project.
Then, Sony decided to negotiate with Marvel to get Spider-Man into the MCU.
After the finale of the animated series What If…? on Disney+, director Bryan Andrews revealed that Marvel planned to make a spinoff starring the Star-Lord version of T’Challa.
Sadly, Chadwick Boseman, who voiced his Black Panther character in the series, died a few months after recording his final lines.
Andrews isn’t sure if Boseman knew about the plans for a spinoff, but he knows “he would have loved it, too.”
In 2004, Lionsgate reportedly made a deal with Marvel to make a Black Widow movie, and X-Men screenwriter David Hayter was set to write and direct it.
However, in 2006, Lionsgate pulled out of the project, citing the box office failure of female-led action movies like Aeon Flux and Ultraviolet.
Six years later, Natasha Romanoff made her MCU debut in Iron Man 2, but Hayter’s version of her solo film never saw the light of day.
That’s not the only time Marvel decided to replace a writer who’d spent years on a screenplay. In 2003, screenwriter and director Edgar Wright cowrote an Ant-Man treatment.
For over a decade of production delays, he continuously delivered rewrite after rewrite.
Then, in 2014, Marvel Studios commissioned a brand-new draft of the script from a different writer without Wright’s input.
Two months before production began, he formally resigned from the project. Ant-Man, directed by Peyton Reed, was released in 2015.
In 2015, Marvel announced Damage Control, an ABC sitcom about the team in charge of cleaning up the destruction the heroes leave behind.
The Department of Damage Control — “a joint venture between Stark Industries and the federal government” — was introduced in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
However, in 2019, Marvel Television was folded into the larger Marvel Studios group, and development on the show was canceled.
In 2014, Channing Tatum was set to star in a standalone X-Men spinoff, Gambit.
He also wanted to codirect the movie with Reid Carolin, his producing partner, but the studio “wanted anybody but [them], essentially, because [they] had never directed anything.”
After Disney and Fox merged in 2019, the project was canceled — leaving Tatum feeling so “traumatized” that he stopped watching Marvel movies altogether.
Initially, Marvel planned to follow up 2008’s The Incredible Hulk with a sequel starring Edward Norton.
However, during the first movie’s editing stage, Norton and the studio butted heads, and most of Bruce Banner’s character development ended up on the cutting room floor.
In 2010, Marvel and Norton officially parted ways, and he was replaced by Mark Ruffalo in The Avengers.
Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn pitched a spinoff movie starring Dave Bautista and Pom Klementieff as Drax and Mantis.
Bautista told Digital Spy, “He laid it out to me. I thought it was such a brilliant idea, but I haven’t heard any follow-up from the studio.”
He also said that, if Disney+ offered him a Drax series, he wouldn’t do it because it would be a “makeup nightmare.”
In 2011, Marvel Television announced its plan to create a Mockingbird series, which would follow Bobbi Morse’s Hannah Montana–style double life as a nerdy college student by day and S.H.I.E.L.D. superspy by night.
The series remained in development until an older version of Bobbi Morse, played by Adrianne Palicki, was introduced in the second season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Then, Marvel filmed a pilot for an AOS spinoff called Most Wanted, which centered on Bobbi Morse and her fellow agent/ex-husband Lance Hunter (played by Nick Blood).
However, in 2015, ABC elected not to pick up the new series, and the characters remained part of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
In 2016, Marvel and ABC Studios announced their plans to develop New Warriors, a comedy series about a “junior version of the Avengers” featuring Squirrel Girl.
Freeform ordered the show straight to series, and Milana Vayntrub (who you might recognize from the AT&T commercials) was cast as Squirrel Girl.
In 2017, though, Freeform canceled the series, and the pilot was unsuccessfully shopped around to other platforms.
In 2021, showrunner Kevin Biegel alleged that “a singular power that be killed the show…because it was too gay.”
Similarly, after Gabriel Luna joined Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as Robbie Reyes/Ghost Rider in 2016, Marvel planned a Ghost Rider spinoff.
However, when the streaming platform and the show’s team reached a “creative impasse,” the series was canceled altogether in September 2019.
In 2021, Luna expressed his willingness to return to the MCU as Ghost Rider whenever they’re ready for him.
In 2011, while they were working on X-Men: First Class, then-screenwriting partners Zack Stentz and Ashley Edward Miller were also secretly working on a major crossover film for Fox.
The movie included all of the Marvel properties Fox owned at the time, including the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Deadpool, and Daredevil.
Fox wanted Paul Greengrass to direct the ambitious film, but he had scheduling issues with another project at the time.
Unfortunately, the crossover movie ultimately didn’t end up working out for Fox.
And finally, in 2017, FX announced an adult animated Deadpool series headed by Donald Glover and his brother, Stephen.
However, in 2018, the series was canceled over “creative differences” between the Glover brothers and the network.
Afterward, Donald Glover shared a spoof version of his script, in which Deadpool mocked Marvel and the show’s cancellation.