These days, the comic book adaptation feels like the engine that’s driving Hollywood; though we get fewer of them than you might think (Ant-Man is only the second of three this summer, for example), they suck up a disproportionate amount of our attention (to say nothing of studio budgets). Yet it wasn’t always so; in fact, in the grand scheme of movie history, our superhero obsession only goes back about a quarter-century, to 1989’s Batman (the first two Superman movies had been hits, but they were anomalies).
But what if that wasn’t the case? One of the most entertaining legends about Orson Welles holds that he pitched, cast, and nearly shot a Batman adaptation in the late ‘40s — va hoax hatched by Kick-Ass creator Mark Millar, but an entertaining hoax, complete with inventive casting choices like George Raft as Two-Face, Basil Rathbone as The Joker, James Cagney as The Riddler, and Marlene Dietrich as Catwoman. And in that same spirit of affection for both the legends of comics and the golden age of Hollywood, artist Joe Phillips worked up Silver Screen Heroes, a series of posters (h/t Comics Alliance) for superhero movies that never were, but should’ve been.