Backstage - Rejected/Unproduced Series & Movie Pitches
Every year, countless writers and artists pitch their ideas to network executives on what they think would make a great animated series or movie. Below is a collection of production artwork for these pitches that, ultimately, never got the greenlight. Continue below for a look at what could have been - including artwork, sketches, and more - with a small rundown of what could have been! Please note this section is far from complete, as there are countless project pitches that go unseen year after year. However, artwork and details will be added here as it comes to light.
Originally scheduled to be a follow-up to the Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero animated movie,
Batman: Arkham was shelved to make way for the acclaimed Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
direct-to-video title. The plot for this animated feature involved Batman and Robin facing off against a collection of Arkham escapees,
in addition to Bruce Wayne finding himself falling in love with a new love interest. Production on this
ultimate scrapped feature was so far along that extensive casting was already completed. While all of
the Batman: The Animated Series voice cast would have returned, Angie Harmon was already hired to
voice Bruce's love interest before the movie was ultimate cancelled. Designer Steven E. Gordon did character
design for the feature, with Boyd Kirkland attached to write and direct.
Production work was already well underway before Kids'WB! and Cartoon Network ultimate decided not to proceed
with an animated series based on the ultra-violent DC Comics character Lobo. Steven E. Gordon did design work
for the series' pitch, though concerns over the nature of the character ultimate led to the project never
getting the green light. Production for this series took place in the mid/late 1990s.
Once Batman: The Animated Series proved to be a critically-acclaimed, high-rated hit, the Fox network approached Bruce Timm to create a spin-off series focusing on Catwoman in the early 1990s. Only a small amount of production work was done before the idea was eventually scrapped. The idea of a Catwoman-centric spin-off was reconsidered years later when a Catwoman/Nightwing series was pitched, in addition to a Birds of Prey animated series starring a collection of DC Comics' top female characters.
Very few details are available for this abandoned project. The Teen Titans animated series would have
been loosely based in the same universe as Superman: The Animated Series and Batman: The Animated
Series, with ties to connect the series together. Little production work is available, with the artwork
above created by Tommy Tejeda during the mid/late 1990s.
A previous pitch for a series based on the Justice League comic book, producer Bruce Timm selected a group
of lesser-known heroes to take the charge for this 1990s-dated incarnation. The series would have been tied to the
continuities of Superman: The Animated Series and Batman: The Animated Series. The pitch was
ultimate put on the backburner when development on Batman Beyond began in earnest.
Artist Alex Ross pitched a Captain Marvel animated series circa 1999 with Paul Dini. Ross said the pitch for the series was to Cartoon Network and, while there was interest, it ended up being shelved for unforeseen reasons. Ross, who would provide designs for the show, said the designs for the show would have been a mixture of the Bruce Timm style and the simple aesthetic of (the original) The Powerpuff Girls.
Harley & Ivy
An animated series starring Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy was in development in 2001, but never made it passed early pre-production. Character designs for the series were to be done by Shane Glines.
Artists Jeffrey Thomas and Celeste Green pitched this very different take on the Batman mythos to Warner Bros.
Animation in the early 2000s. Based on an old sketch by Thomas, Gotham High recast the usual heroes and
foes found in Batman's world as high school students. The show would look at Wayne's insatiable need to uphold
justice and avenge your murdered parents ... while dealing with typical issues that come with being a student.
Under the watchful eye of his guardian Alfred Pennyworth, Wayne is forced to focus on graduating high school
before he can take to the night skies ... that is, if he can survive the experience. Thomas said the unique
idea sadly got lost in the multitude of Batman pitches Warner Bros. Animation executives hear every year.
Batman: No Man's Land (Pitch #1)
An animated series based on the acclaimed Batman comic storyline "No Man's Land" has been a popular premise,
with multiple attempted made. The piece of artwork above, by character designer Coran Stone, is one of the more
notable attempts. Stone said he was selected by producer James Tucker to do the character designs for a
"No Man's Land"-based cartoon, but the project was ultimate scrapped since it was considered "too dark."
Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network opted to eventually go a more lighter route with Batman: The
Brave and The Bold. Stone spent roughly five months working on production artwork for the series, in the mid-2000s
before it was inevitably cancelled.
Batman: No Man's Land (Pitch #2)
A second attempt to create an animated series based on the "No Man's Land" comics was attempted, this
time with a CG-animation bent to it. Also stalled for the dark premise, James Tucker would have been producer
for this mid/late 2000s series. The design artwork above does not have an artist listed.
Untitled Superman Project
Below is rough design work for an untitled Superman project. Format is unknown, but the designs above are
by producer James Tucker.
Untitled DC Comics Justice League Project
Below is rough design work for an untitled Justice League project. The design, sketched up by director/producer James Tucker in 2008/2009, was for a direct-to-video feature.
Batgirl: Year One
Below is a promotional piece by director Lauren Montgomery for a pitched animated feature based on the
Batgirl: Year One comic title. Montgomery pitched the idea as part of the popular DC Universe
Animated Original Movie line in 2008, but the idea was ultimate nixed. "Needless to say, they were not interested
in anything that did not have Superman or Batman in the leading role," said Montgomery. "It went nowhere."
An animated series based on the popular DC Comics character Nightwing was in the early stages of production in the late 2000s before the work was ultimately shelved for Young Justice. Design work for the series was being handled by Ki Hyun Ryu of The Legend of Korra fame, samples of which can be found below. The series would have followed the adventures of Batman sidekick Nightwing, aka Dick Grayson. Teen Titans member Raven would also be a regular part of show's supporting cast.
Untitled Superman DC Nation Project
Genndy Tartakovsky, the creator of Samurai Jack, Star Wars: Clone Wars and more, was developing a Superman short for DC Nation back in 2013, but Cartoon Network's cancellation of the block in 2014 resulted in this animated project getting cut. Early design work on the short, seen below, was completed.
Wonder Twins: Powers Activate
Kat Hudson, lead designer on DC Super Hero Girls and other projects, developed a pitch for a new animated series based on the Wonder Twins. Despite the full pitch, the project ultimately did not come to fruition.
Untitled Shazam Project
Below is rough design work for an untitled Shazam project by Jake Castorena. Format is unknown.
Artist/director Vinton Heuck pitched a Superman Family animated series to Warner Bros. Animation, and it would've focused on the Kent family and be inspired by Silver Age comics. The series would have been family friendly and find The Kents in assorted adventures inspired by DC Comics of the 1960s. Characters would include Kong Kenan, Jon Kent, Damian Wayne, Mr. Mzyzptlk and even Natasha Irons as Steel, among others.
Know of an unproduced DC Comics-based animated project? Contact us!
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