As someone that grew up an avid reader of comic books, we are currently living in glorious times. Most of my favorites have all already graced the silver screen, and they’ll pretty much continue to do so for the next decade. But there was a time when it seemed like we’d never get a live-action version of Iron Man or Doctor Strange.
As a cinefile, I also have a strange fascination with unmade movies. One filmmaker that’s had a lot of interesting projects never make it to full fruition is “Master of Horror” Stuart Gordon! At one point, he was set to adapt Bret Easton Ellis’ controversial novel AMERICAN PSYCHO with Johnny Depp in the lead. And he intended to shoot it in black and white! Several months back, when we had director Joe Begos on the Shock Waves podcast, he revealed a few details about Gordon’s unmade Arnold Schwarzenegger horror flick STEROID!
This week on Shock Waves, we had special guest Jackson Stewart, director and co-writer of BEYOND THE GATES (which is now on VOD and in select theaters) drop by. One of his earliest gigs was as an assistant to Gordon, who became a mentor to him in later years. (Gordon even moderated the Q & A at last week’s BEYOND THE GATES premiere!)
One of the most amazing revelations to come out of the chat was the fact that Stuart Gordon was all set to direct the first big-screen version of IRON MAN!
On the podcast, Stewart said, “I think it was 1989-1990, Wes Craven was going to do DOCTOR STRANGE and James Cameron was going to do SPIDER-MAN, and Stuart Gordon was going to direct IRON MAN. The script was written by the guys who wrote ROBOCOP. (Edward Neumeier & Michael Miner) And it was basically about Tony Stark, he’d been retired from being Iron Man for about 20 years, and he was living in a Las Vegas penthouse and was basically like Howard Hughes. And then something ends up happening out in the world where he has to put the armor back on and go and fight these guys. I think there was some kind of virtual reality element, because that was really hot at the time, and this was, obviously, a studio movie. I think there’s a script around that (Stuart) probably still has.”
Let that sink in for a minute. The writers of ROBOCOP wrote an IRON MAN movie for the director of ROBOT JOX.
Elric mentions on the show that Jeffrey Combs would’ve made a great Tony Stark, to which Jack replies “he would’ve made a great Doctor Strange too!” Then, Ryan reminded us that he kind of played that part already in Full Moon’s 1992 feature DOCTOR MORDRID!
Apparently, all 3 filmmakers, Stuart Gordon, Wes Craven and James Cameron all went up to Stan Lee’s house to discuss their respective Marvel projects. (Can you imagine being a fly on the wall for that meeting?!) Rumor has it that Gordon still has the original sales poster created for his IRON MAN framed and autographed by Stan Lee in his house.
After Gordon dropped out, there was much talk about Tom Cruise eyeing the role of Tony Stark for IRON MAN when it was set up as a Paramount Studios feature. It came so close that at one point, the artists over at Marvel Comics even started to draw Tony Stark to resemble his potential live-action version.
That never came to be, but eventually Marvel got the rights back to the character, hired Jon Favreau to direct and cast Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Among the other projects Stuart Gordon almost tackled? Long before the Coen Brothers did their remake of TRUE GRIT, it was one of Gordon’s many dream projects in development. “He wrote it with Dennis Paoli,” confirmed Stewart. “And they wanted Gene Hackman to play Rooster Cogburn. I read the script and it was incredible. He has a lot of cool stuff like that that unfortunately didn’t get made.”
Ah, what could’ve been!
Listen to Episode 29 of Shock Waves with special guest Jackson Stewart embedded below for your convenience!
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