There was a time when Hollywood studios could make one successful original movie and then move on to another original movie. But those days are long gone. These days, studios and streaming platforms are in a race to pump out as much content as possible. Today, the name of the game is building a cinematic universe across as many different media platforms as possible.
Making sequels to hit films or popular IP is one way to establish a cinematic universe. Another way is by creating spinoff movies to capitalize on the success of breakout characters from the original film. Over the years, there have been a number of spinoff movie projects planned that eventually got shelved for various reasons. Here are 15 such spinoffs we hope to see made one day.
The Crooked Man
The horror genre loves franchises, particularly for slasher movies. The genre created a new kind of gold mine with 2013’s The Conjuring, featuring a ghost-hunting lead duo Ed and Lorraine Warren, who investigate spooky happenings around the world. This simple premise meant the movie and its sequels could introduce all sorts of different demons and ghosts connected through the cases handled by Ed and Lorraine.
One of the most interesting entities to appear in the series is the being known as The Crooked Man. Unnaturally tall and thin, with a slasher smile and a fondness for singing a nursery rhyme while hunting his victims, The Crooked Man was an instant hit with audiences. A spinoff movie centering around the character was soon announced. But the franchise’s creator and filmmaker, James Wan, revealed in 2022 that the project has since been shelved.
James Wan is one of the most successful horror filmmakers in modern Hollywood, who was eventually able to branch out into other genres with equal success. But no matter what kind of movies Wan made, he could never forget his roots. This was the case with Aquaman, which Wan directed. A colorful, bombastic, and feel-good superhero flick, a sequence in Aquaman nevertheless devolves into classic horror shenanigans when the lead characters are attacked by a bunch of mutant sea creatures in the middle of the seas.
The sequence was praised for bringing a touch of genuine horror into the superhero genre, and fans clamored to know more about the sea creatures and their domain. Thus, a spinoff was announced called The Trench, a full-on horror film that would dive into the depths of that particular corner of the DCEU. It was later revealed the film would be a Black Manta spin-off film. Unfortunately, the film was scrapped in 2021, but Wan has hinted that he might use the ideas for that film in some other project someday.
The character of Cyborg hasn’t had a great history when it comes to films. The DC superhero first appeared in comic books way back in 1980, but it wasn’t until 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice that he made the crossover to live-action movies. In that film, he was portrayed by actor Ray Fisher. However, his role was merely a cameo to set up future appearances. His next outing was in 2017’s Justice League, where he appeared alongside other Justice League members, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, and Aquaman. However, many fans were unhappy with the little amount of screen time and story the character received.
Though Cyborg did end up getting more to do in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, these roles in team-up films were only meant to act as set-ups for a solo film – a solo film that had been in the works since 2014. As of 2023, the project still has not materialized due to Fisher’s bad relationship with Warner Bros. as the actor vowed never to work with the studio again until he recieved an official apology for how he was treated on the Justice League reshoots.
The Billion Brick Race
The Lego Movie surprised everyone back in 2014, with it surpassing expectations to become a critical and commercial success. Sequels and spin-offs were soon put into development, including The Lego Batman Movie, The Lego Ninjago Movie, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, and The Billion Brick Race. While three out of four of those titles made it to cinema screens, The Billion Brick Race sadly did not. This was due to the disappointing box office figures for the second Lego Movie, which stopped all future productions.
The Billion Brick Race was intended to be a racing movie in the same vein as films such as The Cannonball Run. According to its writer and director, Jorge R. Gutierrez, it would’ve centered around two new characters, voiced by Emma Stone and Diego Luna, and would’ve included elements of time travel. Alas, the film is destined never to see the light of day, which is a shame because it sounds like lots of fun.
It is a curious fact that Batman is the biggest superhero in the world when it comes to film. And yet the Caped Crusader has rarely ever been seen onscreen with his most well-known partner, Robin the Boy Wonder. There have only been two live-action movies in the ’90s featuring the Dynamic Duo, where Chris O’Donnell played the role of Batman’s sidekick in Batman Forever and Batman & Robin.
But the original plan was to go deeper with the character by giving Robin his own spinoff movie. “[The studio was] going to do [a solo Robin movie] back in the day,” O’Donnell told Access Hollywood. “And then [‘Batman & Robin’] was such a bomb, they were like, ‘Scrap that!’” After years of waiting, fans are hopeful once again as a fresh take on the Batman and Robin relationship is being planned for the new DCU.
Batman has the unusual distinction of being considered one of the coolest characters ever seen in movies. And yet the Caped Crusader has a long history of being upstaged in his own films by the villains. Long before the Joker and Bane stole Batman’s thunder in The Dark Knight trilogy, Michelle Pfeiffer achieved a similar feat in Batman Returns, walking away with all the applause in her role as the femme fatale Catwoman.
Pfeiffer was so memorable in the role that her character was saved from certain death at the end of the movie, and plans were quickly made to give her a spinoff feature, with Pfeiffer reprising her role as Catwoman. After that, the project languished in development hell at the studio for more than a decade, eventually morphing into a weird, tenuously related project headlined by Halle Berry sans Pfeiffer, Batman, Gotham, or anything resembling the original spinoff idea.
Speaking of Halle Berry. A lot of eyebrows were raised a few years ago when it was suggested that Daniel Craig’s replacement as the new Agent 007 might be a woman. But the concept of a female lead in the James Bond franchise has existed for a long time. Back in 2002, Die Another Day introduced fans to NSA agent Giacinta “Jinx” Johnson, played by Halle Berry as a female butt-kicker equal to Bond.
Audiences loved the character so much that the studio toyed with the idea of giving Jinx her own spinoff movie. Unfortunately, the idea never came to fruition because the project was deemed too financially risky. “It was very disappointing,” Berry told Digital Spy about the Jinx solo movie being canceled. “[The movie] was ahead of its time. Nobody was ready to sink that kind of money into a black female action star.”
Buffy the Vampire Slayer may have come to an end twenty years ago, but the hit TV show is (almost) as loved as ever. At the height of its popularity in the early 2000s, several spin-off TV shows and films based on the Buffyverse’s many characters were proposed. The only one that saw the light of day was Angel, based on the character of the same name. The most interesting project to never reach production, however, was a film revolving around the fan-favorite vampire, Spike.
The movie was first proposed in 2004, after the cancelation of Angel, in which Spike was a main character on during its fifth season. Buffy creator Joss Whedon was keen to continue the character’s story, as was Spike actor, James Marsters. Nevertheless, time went on, and a film never materialized, to the point when, in 2012, Marsters stated that he was too old to return to the role. Some of Marsters’ ideas for the movie were eventually used in the form of a comic book called ‘Spike: Into the Light’ which was released in 2014.
A lot of projects were scrapped, and plans were changed when Disney bought Twentieth Century Fox way back in 2019. Undoubtedly, the franchise with the biggest casualties was the X-Men films. Among the many spin-off films planned was one based on the militant superhero team, X-Force, which had already been set up in that universe. In 2018’s Deadpool 2, the titular character sets up a team to help him carry out a dangerous mission. He calls the team (the highly derivative name) X-Force and though most of the original members die in freak parachuting accidents, the seed was planted.
Kick-Ass 2 director Jeff Wadlow was initially hired to direct the film before the success of Deadpool. He was later replaced by filmmaker Joe Carnahan, who intended to co-write the script with Deadpool actor Ryan Reynolds, which was envisioned as being R-rated. However, when Disney acquired Fox, the film was scrapped, and there are currently no plans to make an X-Force movie. Hopefully, that might change if Deadpool 3 turns out to be a success.
The Gambit movie was another unfortunate casualty of the Disney/Fox acquisition. The character of Gambit has been a favorite among comic book fans since he first appeared in The Uncanny X-Men in the 1990s. To date, he has only appeared in live-action form on one occasion: in the critically-panned X-Men Origins: Wolverine, where he was played by Taylor Kitsch.
A solo film with Channing Tatum in the lead role was announced in 2014. However, what followed was five years of development hell, multiple directors including, at one point, Pirates of the Caribbeans‘ Gore Verbinski, and eventual cancelation. What’s most frustrating about the matter is that the film was just a couple of months away from principal photography when the Disney/Fox acquisition brought things to an end.
Aside from Batman, Spider-Man has some of the best-known and most colorful gallery of villains in comics. Those villains have received excellent adaptations in live-action movies for more than two decades now. But one wish from fans regarding Spider-Man villains is yet to be fulfilled. Watching them unite onscreen to create the iconic comics team The Sinister Six.
Back when Sony was making The Amazing Spider-Man movies, plans were well underway for a Sinister Six spinoff movie, which would feature the combined might of Green Goblin, Rhino, Vulture, Doctor Octopus, Kraven, and Mysterio. After the mixed reception to The Amazing Spider-Man 2, plans for the Sinister Six movie were nixed, but there have been fresh hints in the Morbius end credits scene that the studio might be looking to restart the project.
Female Pirates of the Caribbean Movie
The Pirates of the Caribbean movies have been chugging along for more than a decade now, regularly drawing huge numbers at the box office even as fresher entries in the franchise suffer from increasingly confused plot lines and a general over-reliance on the character of Captain Jack Sparrow. In an effort to combat this, the studio announced a spinoff movie in the franchise that would feature Margot Robbie in the lead role.
Little is known about the project beyond the fact that it would have attempted to steer the Pirates franchise away from the looming presence of Captain Jack. After years of little news about the project, Robbie confirmed in 2022 that the movie was no longer in development. “We had an idea, and we were developing it for a while, ages ago,” the actress told Vanity Fair. “To have more of a female-led – not totally female-led, but just a different kind of story – which we thought would’ve been really cool, but I guess [the studio] don’t want to do it.”
Silver Surfer is one of the most recognizable and famous Marvel characters ever. 20th Century Fox knew this as they put him front and center in the marketing for their 2007 Fantastic Four sequel titled Rise of the Silver Surfer. The movie was intended to launch a Silver Surfer spin-off film and was teased in the film’s post-credit scene.
Yet the project never materialized. Likely due to the poor box office reaction to Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, the solo film never got off the ground despite the fact that the studio could have just made a stand-alone Silver Surfer film. The character is rumored to appear soon in the MCU, but fans are now left wondering what would have happened if Fox had gone for a full Silver Surfer solo film in the 2010s.
The Vega Brothers
Quentin Tarantino’s films all take place within the same universe, and while two characters sharing the last name might be a fun little trademark, in his universe, like the MCU, it is all connected. Vic Vega (Michael Madsen) in Reservoir Dogs and Vincent Vega (John Travolta) in Pulp Fiction are supposed to be brothers, and for years, Tarantino teased the idea of doing a spin-off film with the two characters set before the events of their two feature films titled The Vega Brothers.
However, those plans never materialized. Tarantino focused on other projects and since Madsen and Travolta aged out of the roles. With Tarantino only planning to make one more movie before he retires, it is unlikely that he will revive this project. Yet if Tarantino let another director helm his script, this could be an interesting film many fans would like to see.
21 Jump Street/Men in Black Crossover Spinoff Movie
The 21 Jump Street TV series found an unlikely continuation when it was rebooted for the big screen in 2012. The movie was hailed as one of the funniest films of the decade, and it was followed up with an equally funny sequel with the same basic premise as the original. There did not seem to be much room for the franchise to grow with a third retread of the formula, but its makers had a truly bold idea to continue the series.
The plan was to have the 21 Jump Street movies cross over with the Men in Black franchise. As weird as the premise sounds, it was considered promising enough that 21 Jump Street directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord said the movie “came very close to happening.” In 2019, the producer of the MIB series confirmed to Empire (via Yahoo) that the project was no longer in development, stating, “We gave it a shot. It turned out to be an impossible match-up.” This is the spin-off and crossover film that likely would have been the best and were sad never happened.