One of the biggest missed opportunities in the realm of comic book movies has to be Justice League: Mortal, the DC Comics ensemble movie about the greatest superhero team in the world, that Mad Max: Fury Road director George Miller was set to direct at one point. The film had already lined up an ambitious cast, which included Jay Baruchel in the role of the villain Maxwell Lord.
While Justice League: Mortal did not end up getting made, the character of Lord did make his cinematic debut in 2020's Wonder Woman 1984, played by Pedro Pascal. In a recent interview with Variety, Jay Baruchel was asked how different his version of Lord would have been from Pascal's. Baruchel admitted he has not seen Wonder Woman 1984 yet, but went on to describe the movie Miller would have made in deeply stirring terms.
"I haven't seen [Wonder Woman 1984]. I know the character's in it, so I can't speak to what they did versus what we were going to do. I can speak to the crazy fucking fever dream that would have been Justice League: Mortal by George Miller. I just spent ten minutes talking shit about acting, but my time in Australia with him is everything I adore about the craft. He treated it like a play. We workshopped it. We had a full-on dramaturg on set and did super, super earnest Meisner technique shit and ripped apart and unpacked the script just for the sake of itself."
Sounds like Miller was not messing around when it came to making Justice League: Mortal. The project was conceived in 2007. Back then, Batman was being played by Christian Bale, and Brandon Routh had played Superman.
But Warner intended Mortal to be a brand new franchise, and had cast a fresh set of actors, including D.J. Cotrona as Superman, Armie Hammer as Batman, Megan Gale as Wonder Woman, Teresa Palmer as Talia al Ghul, hip hop recording artist, and rapper Common as John Stewart, the Green Lantern, and Adam Brody as The Flash / Barry Allen. According to Baruchel, the film would have pulled no punches when it comes to showing the wild side of DC Comics.
"It was art for art's sake. George is one of the most important filmmakers of all time and part of the reason I wanted to be a director was [Mad Max:] Road Warrior. I have no idea what they did in the new one, but in ours we had psychokinesis and blood coming out of my tear ducts and a whole bunch of crazy, cool shit that would have been a blast to do. We were painting with pretty vivid operatic colors."
Unfortunately, the ambitious project got caught up in production issues after the original plan to film the movie in Australia with huge tax rebates got scuppered. The success of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight movies also made Warner wary of launching a new franchise with a different Batman. After the project kept getting pushed back, Miller finally quit the film and began working on Fury Road instead. And the world had to wait until 2017 for a live-action Justice League film. This news originated at Variety.