Hollywood loves sequels. They’re just profitable enough that you don’t have to worry if they’re good or not. Seven of the top 10 movies over the last few years were sequels—they’re pretty well all we get now.
Sometimes, it seems like there isn’t a sequel idea they won’t greenlight—but there are a few. For all the sequels out there, there are some so crazy that they didn’t get made. That doesn’t mean we didn’t get pretty close to having every one of these, though.
10 Batman Unchained
Back when Joel Schumacher was making all your least-favorite Batman movies, he started working on what he thought was going to be his greatest Batman film. To get away from the ticket-sale driven films he’d made, he said, “I owe the hardcore fans the Batman movie they would love me to give them.”
Schumacher’s ideas of what fans want are a little strange, though. He planned to pit Batman against Nicholas Cage, playing The Scarecrow, and Courtney Love, playing Harley Quinn. In this movie, Harley Quinn would find out that The Joker is her father—which makes all those romantic scenes between them more than a little weird.
Meanwhile, The Scarecrow tries to drive Batman insane by making Batman hallucinate that he is being put on trial by all his villains. Schumacher wanted every actor to reprise their role for this scene—meaning we would have seen Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze trying to probe the depths of Batman’s psyche.
At the end, in a scene symbolizing Batman’s psychological release, Batman would walk into a cave where bats would fly around him. Except, first, he’d fly to Bali. Because, apparently, Batman couldn’t think of anywhere closer than Indonesia to find a cave filled with bats. Y’know—a batcave.
9 Lord Of The Rings 2
J.R.R. Tolkien very nearly wrote a sequel to Lord of the Rings. He even sat down and wrote 13 pages of it before he realized what he was doing and threw it in the trash.
It was to be set 100 years after the end of the original and didn’t really have a lot of hobbits in it. Instead, Tolkien opened it with a riveting scene in which two men sit and have a philosophical discussion about the waste of natural resources and whether deforestation serves a beneficial purpose.
If he’d written the rest, it would have been, in Tolkien’s own words, “sinister and depressing.” Tolkien described it as a “thriller” about stopping a plot by a “secret Satanistic religion.”
“It would have been just that,” Tolkien said. “Not worth doing.”
8 E.T. 2: Nocturnal Fears
After the smash success of Spielberg’s touching story about the beautiful friendship between a child and a friendly alien, studios were clamoring for a sequel. And Spielberg almost gave them one. He wrote a 10-page proposal for E.T. 2, called Nocturnal Fears.
It was darker than the original. A lot darker. In the sequel, evil aliens with razor-sharp teeth come to Earth looking for E.T.—who, this movie reveals, really has the absolutely awful sci-fi name of Zrek. The evil aliens capture Elliott and his friends and torture them.
Eventually, Elliott gets so brutally tormented that he cries out to E.T. for help. Not with a phone or anything—he just starts sobbing. But in this movie, E.T. can hear tears through space, so he comes to the rescue.
E.T. bursts into the alien spaceship for the final showdown. Here’s how that climactic battle goes down: E.T. immediately freezes the aliens, and then they stay frozen and don’t resist him in any way. And they never get unfrozen or create the slightest degree of conflict whatsoever.
E.T. takes the kids home, and the aliens just give up on catching him. Because, apparently, E.T. is an unstoppable god.
7 Toy Story 3: Toy Story In Taiwan
When Disney and Pixar split up, Disney kept the rights to Pixar’s movies—and Disney was feeling vengeful. They decided that, with or without Pixar, Disney would just make sequels to all Pixar’s movies anyway. Disney even set up a whole studio called Circle 7 to make them.
Helmed by the team behind classic direct-to-DVD movies like The Lion King 1-1/2, Disney went to work making a Toy Story 3 that the world never saw. Their first pitch was to make a whodunit mystery story, but that one got passed over for another idea. They were going to bring the toys to Taiwan.
In this story, Buzz Lightyear would be recalled and sent to Taiwan and the toys would have to save him. So the toys fly to Taiwan, where they perform surgery on Buzz Lightyear. Apparently, that’s something the toys can do in this movie.
6 Forrest Gump 2: Gump & Co.
Forrest Gump is based on a book, and that book has a sequel called Gump & Co. In 2001, we very nearly saw that sequel on the screen.
It would’ve been a bit weird.
In the planned sequel, Forrest Gump would be a single dad after the death of his beloved Jenny. That doesn’t mean that Jenny’s not in the movie, though. Instead, Jenny’s a ghost who follows Forrest around and works as his guardian angel.
Forrest works as a janitor in a strip club—for a while, anyway. Following the natural career progression, he soon gets promoted from janitor to NFL player and then to astronaut.
As in the first film, Forrest finds his way through history. Soon, he ends up fighting in Operation Desert Storm alongside the orangutan that accompanied him into space, which we swear to God is a real plot point in the movie and not something we’re making up.
5 Star Wars: Splinter Of The Mind’s Eye
There was a time when nobody thought that Star Wars would be a hit. Still, George Lucas wanted a sequel—even if he had to make it on a shoestring budget. And so he very nearly made Star Wars V: Splinter of the Mind’s Eye.
The original Star Wars V wasn’t going to feature Han Solo. They didn’t think they were going to be able to afford Harrison Ford, and they were getting ready for that.
Instead, this sequel has Luke and Leia crash-land on a swamp planet where they find out about a magical crystal that amplifies the Force. Soon, they’re in a race against Vader to get the crystal.
It involves Luke dragging Leia around pretending that she’s a slave girl and slapping her when she talks back. Oh, and Luke and Leia fall in love—which is a bit weird given the whole sibling thing.
The movie ends with a lightsaber battle between Luke and Vader—which Luke wins. He chops Vader’s arm off and runs off with the crystal. Apparently, Luke’s five minutes of talking to Obi-Wan made him a better Jedi than Vader’s 30 years of training.
4 Mrs. Doubtfire 2
Mrs. Doubtfire isn’t really a movie begging for a sequel, but we almost got one anyway. Only a few details have come out. But we know that, in the first draft, Robin Williams was going to follow his daughter to college and try to convince his daughter that he was a woman again.
Even Robin Williams thought the idea was stupid. “At the end of the first one, they reveal who Mrs. Doubtfire is,” he said. “It doesn’t work.”
Eventually, though, Williams actually signed up for a sequel with a different plot, which didn’t come out because of Robin Williams’s death. According to the director, Williams signed on because they’d found the perfect story.
According to the tabloids, though, the film we almost got wasn’t actually that great. Williams just agreed to do it because he got desperate enough for cash.
3 Space Jam 2
Worried that Space Jam wasn’t enough to satiate the public’s appetite for athletes playing sports with Looney Tunes characters, the creators very nearly made a sequel. This time, though, they weren’t going to play basketball. They were going to play golf.
A movie about Tiger Woods playing golf with Bugs Bunny in outer space almost made it to a theater near you. A script was written, and the original director, Joe Pytka, was called in to check it out. He hasn’t shared much except one quick line: “It was a strange script.”
Pytka didn’t think the movie should happen. “The first film is always the best one,” he said. “The Godfather 2 is not as good as The Godfather 1.” That’s right—the director of Space Jam compared his movie about Jordan playing basketball with Bugs Bunny to The Godfather.
Hollywood didn’t stop trying to make Space Jam sequels, though. Dwight Howard tried to get a Space Jam film, which never happened because most people don’t know who Dwight Howard is. And now they’re actually working on a Space Jam 2 with LeBron James.
Asked for his thoughts on the sequel, Pytka succinctly said, “It’s doomed.”
2 Super Mario Bros. 2
The Super Mario Bros. movie ends with a cliffhanger. Daisy bursts into the room, calling to Mario and Luigi, “You gotta come with me! I need your help!” It was supposed to get audiences on the edges of their seats, begging for a sequel. Instead, people just begged them never to make another movie.
They had a sequel planned, though, and they were ready to make it. It was supposed to follow the plot of Super Mario 2—a game where Mario dreams that he’s playing Super Mario 2, wakes up at the end, and realizes none of it ever happened.
In the film version, Mario and Luigi would go to Princess Toadstool’s dimension once more. There, Toad would throw them a radical party and wail out a sweet guitar solo—because this was the ’90s. Soon, though, a bad guy named Wart would appear on the screen and say he’s taken over the city—and the Mario brothers would have to stop him.
The movie, understandably, was never made. But it did become a comic, which you can read online.
1 Gladiator 2
The first Gladiator movie ended with the protagonist dying, which makes a sequel a bit difficult. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t tried. The creators decided to hire Nick Cave, the rock star from the 1980s, to write the movie for reasons that no one can quite grasp—and Cave created something completely insane.
Cave’s movie started with Maximus in the afterlife. Now dead, he only wants to be reunited with his wife in the afterlife so he goes out in pursuit of her.
Instead, Maximus meets the Roman gods themselves, who send him on a mission to stop the spread of monotheism. Soon, he’s brought back to life in the body of a dying Christian. Zombie Maximus—alongside a magical ghost friend named Mordecai—switches sides and leads a Christian army into war against the Roman Empire.
At the end of the movie, Maximus starts inexplicably teleporting through time. He becomes a Crusader, fights in World War II and Vietnam, and finally, works at the Pentagon. Just before the credits role, he and his ghost friend give each other knowing nods, knowing their work will never be over.
Meanwhile, his wife is burning in Hell or something. That whole “finding his wife” plot gets dropped after the first 10 minutes. Apparently, Maximus is too busy traveling through time with his ghost buddy to remember she exists.