Comic books are full of characters that had near misses of getting turned into Hollywood movies. Marvel Comics' the Silver Surfer is one such popular character, who was set to get his own film in the late 90s' with Geoffrey Wright attached to direct. The project ultimately did not move past the initial stages. Artist Gabriel Hardman, who helped storyboard its narrative, recently took to Twitter to share some of the art from the scrapped feature.
The drawings don't give much of a hint in terms of story. It appears to be a depiction of a fight between the Surfer and a hulking enemy. The foe seems to have gotten the better of the Surfer and is moving closer to finish him off. Just then, the hero's trusty surfboard comes to his aid, presumably turning the tide of the battle and allowing the surfer to gain the upper hand.
According to Hardman, the movie would have featured the Surfer mostly in his original humanoid state before he became the Herald of Galactus since the VFX needed to depict the superhero would have been too costly at that time. Ewan McGregor was wanted to play the role of the Surfer, while the director was looking to cast Steve Berkoff as Galactus.
There are only rumors regarding why the movie ultimately did not get made. The next time the Surfer made his appearance was in the sequel to Fantastic Four that came out in 2007. The character was originally supposed to get his own spinoff movie afterward, but the poor reception to Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer scrapped those plans as well.
Now, the Surfer is once again set to make his proper cinematic debut, when he joins the MCU in the next few years alongside the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Deadpool. Although no official announcement has been made so far, Marvel has a habit of sneaking in cameos by major characters in movies before giving them their own solo flicks, so the Surfer might show up for a brief scene in one of the upcoming MCU films scheduled for this year and the next.
In terms of appeal, the Silver Surfer mythology has the potential to be one of the MCU's biggest draws. It tells a tragic tale of Shakespearean scope, on a cosmic scale. Norrin Radd was living a peaceful life on his planet when one day his home's existence was threatened by Galactus, eater of worlds. In order to spare his own planet, Radd made a deal with Galactus to become his herald and seek out new planets for the cosmic creature to consume, as the Silver Surfer.
Upon coming to Earth, Radd's encounter with the Fantastic Four reawakens his memories of his home planet, causing him to turn on his master. Now the Surfer travels the cosmos alone, trying to atone for his role in the destruction of countless worlds while seeking a new planet to call home. If the MCU can successfully capture a fraction of the depth and complexity of the Silver Surfer in their films, they'll have another major success on their hands.