[Guest blogger Scott on projects never completed.]
No matter whether you’re into film, music, or comics, you’re bound to have heard of some ‘Lost Project’; these are those masterpieces that coulda, woulda, shoulda been but were never realized as the result of contract disputes, the project getting away from the artist, editorial interference, various legal issues or, in the worst case scenario, the death of the artist. Here are just a few of my potential-favorite-works-that-never-actually-existed:
Alan Moore’s Twilight of The Superheroes
This Alan Moore penned tale, proposed circa 1987, would be his vision of the ‘last days’ of the DC Universe. The plot would have evolved around the heroes being arranged in various ‘houses’ in the future: The House of Steel (Superman and Wonder Woman, now married), The House of the Bat, The House of Thunder (The Marvel Family). An impending union between the House of Thunder and Steel threatens a future rife with Super-Fascism. There were many rumored similarities to the plot and Kingdom Come. The series would have been the centerpiece of a company wide crossover and would have resulted in the re-establishment of DC’s multi-verse (much like 52).
The Who’s Lifehouse
This was Pete Townshend’s intended follow-up to Tommy and is one of the most ambitious musical projects ever envisioned. The story, a sci-fi tale set in a futuristic dystopia, would have incorporated elements of technology that sound much like Virtual Reality and the Internet. The problem with this is that this was 1971 and, by Townshend’s own admission, no one really understood it but him. In addition to the complex plot, the project would have been, not only an album, but a film and, presumably, a concert tour which would have had interactive features; Townshend would have supposedly taken vital statistics from his audiences and then, using a synthesizer, create musical templates from which the band would build upon (Supposedly, the synth bit of “Baba O’ Reilly” was created by doing this with the stats of Townshend’s Guru Meher Baba). After the project was abandoned, many of the songs written for the concept became the Who’s Next album (To my knowledge, John Entwistle’s “My Wife” was the only song not connected to Lifehouse in some way). Townshend would revisit the Lifehouse concept on several other occasions in an attempt to ‘finish’ it. Elements of the plot surfaced in his 1993 concept album/radio play Psychoderelict, he released a boxed set of the out takes of the project in 2000 which also included a radio play version of the story and would revisit the story yet again on the ‘Wire and Glass’ portion of the Who’s 2006 album Endless Wire, however, rather than the story becoming more concrete over the years it has only become more convoluted which makes one wonder what that album may have been like had it been completed as envisioned in 1971.
J.D. Salinger’s The Fall of the House of Glass
Supposedly a manuscript of this exists somewhere, I have no idea what the plot would have been about other than bringing an end to the ‘Glass Family Saga’ that had been featured in works like Franny and Zooey and “Perfect Day for A Bananafish”
The Jimi Hendrix/Miles Davis collaboration
The two musicians were rumored to be working on this around the time Hendrix died and this may have been the inspiration for Davis’ own Bitches Brew album (an album that would lay the groundwork for Jazz-Fusion).
Richard Donner’s Superman I & II
Okay, so we’ve already gotten a taste of this with the Donner Cut of Superman II (which you should check out if you have not already… so much better than the original and, unlike most director’s cuts that add a scene or two, this really is 50-75% a completely different movie) but, in listening to the commentary, the first movie would have ended differently and Superman’s ‘spinning time backwards’ trick would have been reserved for the grand finale of the second film after Lois falls to her death in one of the chasms during the fight with the Kryptonian villains. I also think the Donner cut of Superman II is a great example of a ‘Lost Work’ that finally saw the light of day.... and, unlike most 'Lost Works' that eventually see the light, came out better than expected.
And while we’re on the subject of Superman….
The Kevin Smith written, Tim Burton directed, Nicholas Cage starring Superman Lives!
This was rumored somewhere around 1997-98. Smith got the job based on the quality of his Chasing Amy script and, from what I have read, the story would have been an adaptation of sorts of the whole ‘Death and Return of Superman’ story. Producer John Peters (who had produced Burton’s Batman) wanted to do a ‘darker’ Superman movie (Kevin Smith tells the hilarious story of Peter’s ‘vision’ on the Evening With Kevin Smith DVD). Later, Tim Burton was brought aboard to direct (eventually rejecting Smith’s script in favor of one done by his own people) and Nicholas Cage was cast as the man of steel…. At which point it fell into development hell. If nothing else, this one gave us a great Mad TV bit which imagined Cage (fresh off of his performance in Leaving Las Vegas) as an alcoholic Superman in a sketch entitled Leaving Metropolis. (Sorry, I couldn’t find the clip anywhere online).
So, folks … what are some of your favorite non-existent works? (this reminds me of how in The Sandman Morpheus had that library of books that were never written… wouldn’t it be awesome to have one of those?)
[GRANT MORRISON on WILDCATS and the AUTHORITY. Scheesh. I know projects have been aborted before, but I can't think of one that I actually cared about being aborted after such a promising and limited start (one issue of Wildcats and two of the Authority). Well, Wildcats was not so promising, but Brad and I have a weird affection for that title, and the Authority start was genuinely awesome. Too often Morrison is paired with weak artists, and the fact that he had solid collaborators would have meant great things I think.]