For years we’ve talked about the massive documentary project that was chronicling the production and combustion of the Superman movie that was to be directed by Tim Burton and starring Nicolas Cage. The end result of those efforts, The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened?, will be available on VOD this coming July. Along with Jodorowsky’s Dune, which chronicled Alejandro Jodorowsky’s attempt to make a version of Frank Herbert’s Dune in the 70s, there seems to be a trend of making documentaries about movies that never happened. But two films don’t make a trend, so how about three? Straight out of Australia comes word that a new doc is in development, this time the subject is George Miller‘s abandoned Justice League movie Mortal.
In a notice to ComicBook.com, director Ryan Unicomb announced that he was joining forces with producers Aaron Cater and Steven Caldwell along with writer/journalist Maria Lewis to make a documentary chronicling Mortal’s failure to take off (so to speak).
You may recall the development of Justice League: Mortal from 2007-2008, an attempt By Warner Bros. to jump-start their DC Comics cinematic movie universe at roughly the same time Marvel Studios was launching theirs. It would have been directed by Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road) and featured Armie Hammer (Batman), D.J. Cotrona (Superman), Megan Gale (Wonder Woman), Adam Brody (The Flash), Common (Green Lantern), Santiago Cabrera (Aquaman), and Hugh Keays-Byrne (according to rumor, Martian Manhunter). Things looked good, and then the a series of delays ended up pushing back the production into oblivion.
But Unicomb’s film will look at the production from a unique perspective, it’s impact on the Australian film industry. Mortal was initially going to be filmed in its entirely at Fox Studios in Sydney, bringing tens of millions of dollars into the local economy and guaranteeing hundreds of jobs for the local film industry. Things fell apart though because the Australian government withdrew $40 million in tax credits when, according to them, Warner Bros. hadn’t hired enough Australian actors in the main cast. This despite the fact that Miller the director is Australian, along with actors Gale and Keays-Byrne.
“A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Australian film industry is being frittered away because of very lazy thinking,” Miller told the Sydney Morning-Herald at the time. “They’re throwing away hundreds of millions of dollars of investment that the rest of the world is competing for and, much more significantly, highly skilled creative jobs.”
According to ComicBook.com, “The documentary hopes to feature never before seen artwork, interviews with some of the proposed cast and crew, and a behind the curtain look into what really happened to bring the blockbuster to its knees. The documentary plans to present a non-biased recount of the development, pre-production and untimely cancellation of the project as well as the long lasting effect it had on the Australian Film Industry.”
Unicomb himself is Australian, so I’m sure the economics of this project are of primary interest to him. Fans, naturally, will be drawn to another “What If…?” story from fandom’s past, but it’s nice to hear that there’s more to the desire to chronicle Mortal’s demise than just a “wouldn’t this have been awesome?” fan’s point of view story. No word on when we might see the film, but production is expected to start sometime later this year. We’ll have more news about it as it comes in.