DC's 1991 Crisis Crossover, "Armageddon 2001," promised to reveal that a currently-active DC hero would eventually become the villainous Monarch, who would eventually kill all of his or her colleagues and rule the entire planet with a Dr. Doom-like iron fist, all by the summer of 2001. When the story was finished, the editorial decision was that Monarch would be revealed as Captain Atom, but then the ending was leaked to the public. A hastily-cobbled-together ending recast Monarch as Hawk, the one character it couldn't have been. One anticlimax later, two regular books were canceled and the entire thing was rendered moot by Comic Book Time (in 2001, it was no more than two years later in the DCU). A later story turned Captain Atom into the Monarch anyway.
For The Trial Of The Flash, Cary Bates had several plans that would have continued if not for the Crisis, including Flash being found guilty and going "on the run." This would’ve kicked off a new story arc which would have had Flash continuing to do his good deeds as a wanted man with an arrest warrant hanging over his head. What he liked most about this idea was "the delicious irony of a Flash who ends up joining his own Rogues Gallery."
Crisis on Infinite Earths was set to have a different, almost anti-climatic ending. The original ending would have been issue 10, when the Anti-Monitor's fight with the Specter leads to the multiverse's destruction and the complete rebirth of the DC Universe. Marv Wolfman's plan was originally to have everyone in the DCU modified, even taking new genders and new nationalities in the process. however, CoIE proved to be very popular and Marv was forced to extend it two issues more and show that all of the characters were still there.
There was another alternative ending for Crisis On Infinite Earths in which Superman of Earth 1 would die during the fight with the fight with the Anti-Monitor and Earth 2 Superman's aged look was only a make up disguise since his ageing stoped at the peak of his powers. This idea got scraped when John Byrne idea for The Man of Steel mini series got planed.
Ferro Lad was intended to be black in Legion of Super-Heroes, but DC editors shot down the idea as they feared losing readers in the South. Due to the meddling, Jim Shooter opted to kill off the character. Shadow Lass was also originally intended to be a black woman, but had her skin changed to blue.
Writer Nick Spencer had big plans for Supergirl before he left partway through his first issue. He was planning on setting Kara up as a leader like her cousin Kal and would have lead to the creation of a new Young Justice. The story plans go that the villain would have been the Luthor-Brainiac clone and, to deal with it, Kara would gather a team comprised of Static, Blue Beetle, the Damian Wayne Robin, the Stephanie Brown Batgirl, Miss Martian and the Iris West Impulse (with hopes to include Aqualad). The pinnacle of Kara's evolution would have had Iris running away in a panic and Kara stopping her, convincing her to keep going. Most of the team, minus Kara, would have ended up getting captured and, with advice from Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, would have made a second team to rescue them. The story would have concluded with the dance party of the Flyover app's premiere, with one scene showing Iris dragging Damian out onto the dance floor. The Jaime/Damian/M'gann team (but none of the others) made it into James Peaty's run, but the details of the storyline were completely altered, along with Alex's true identity ( Kryptonian-Dubbilex hybrid clone).
China Mieville's aborted Swamp Thingrun which got canceled before ever seeing print in order to bring a lot of the DC characters that made the move to Vertigo back into the fold at DC.
The Red Circle: The original plan was that JMS was going to debut them in the pages of The Brave and the Bold in their original forms and team them with DC's big names. But apparently DC felt that the spots on The Brave and the Bold would be better served with the Milestone Comics heroes instead, so DC and JMS did four one-shots reviving some of them (mostly radically altered) before launching The Shield and The Web into their own titles (with the other two heroes introduced in the one-shots in back-up stories: Inferno and Hangman, respectively). The books lasted 10 issues each, but not before DC publishing a Mighty Crusaders Special at the same month as the ninth issues of the two books. The only major appearance of any of the Red Circle guys in another DC book was when the Shield showed up in two issues of Magog. They then published a Mighty Crusaders six-issue mini-series in order to try to wrap up all loose ends that the earlier Red Circle book had left behind. The Red Circle heroes have since returned to Archie Comics.
Also, according to Mark Heike, he planned a proposed 25-page special featuring almost every single REAL costumed hero Archie created (No Pureheart or Captain Sprocket) battling the best of MLJ's Golden Age villains, with each chapter drawn by an AC Comics artist. It was slated to revive interest in these heroes, but Archie Comics did not consider it workable. The material was re-purposed as AC's 2003 one-shot Sentinels Of America.
It's interesting how close this came to happening. Dan Didio handed the death down as an editorial mandate, but Geoff Johns flat-out refused to kill Dick Grayson off (seeing as he is one of the longest-existing comic book characters in American comics). Superboy was eventually killed off instead (and he got resurrected later on).
Final Crisis was originally supposed to introduce a new, Silver Age-inspired version of Aquaman from somewhere in the Multiverse, who would replace the poorly-received A.J. Curry version of Aquaman that was floating around at the time. The idea was to bring back the "classic" Aquaman without having to do another resurrection story (as the character had died several years prior), but the then-upcoming Blackest Night story forced Grant Morrison to change his plans.
Hawkman and Hawkgirl were originally supposed to die, which is why they catch fire near the end of the story and then simply vanish from the plot. Dwayne McDuffie had even scripted a scene in Justice League of America showing Red Arrow visiting Hawkgirl's grave, which had to be hastily rewritten when editorial changed its mind.
Paul Dini wrote a Zatanna Prestige Format one-shot for Vertigo, which sold out in a short time. Vertigo had plans for a miniseries and eventually a series. Then, Grant Morrison got the bid for Seven Soldiers and snatched Zatanna away...
One of the original proposals for Zero Hour would've seen the creation of a new Multiverse world that was essentially the Pre-Crisis DCU. This presumably would've provided an alternative for fans who preferred the classic versions of DC heroes, as opposed to the host of gritty revamps and Younger and HipperLegacy Characters that were popular at the time.
Alex Ross came up with a mini-series idea called Batboy, who would have focused on the son of Bruce Wayne and his ally, Superman, Jr. Most of the original heroes would have been retired save Green Lantern Hal Jordan with the Teen Titans becoming the Justice League. As the story progressed, Batboy would realize his world was too perfect before learning the truth - this was Hal Jordan's perfect Earth from Zero Hour!
After the 70's revival series was cancelled, Roy Thomas pitched a Continuity Reboot of the Captain Marvel franchise that would've given the character a Race Lift and recast Billy Batson as a black kid.
Before the Trials of Shazam series, Alex Ross pitched a new Shazam series which would've seen the Marvel Family traveling the world and trying to reclaim Captain Marvel's powers after they were scattered across the planet. The series would've officially brought Black Vulcan from the Super Friends cartoon into DC canon by making him the first non-white member of the Marvel Family.
The JLA / JSA: Virtue and Vice graphic novel was clearly intended to be a three or four-issue miniseries. The story breaks into almost perfect twenty-two page segments. Why it was released as one book was unclear, but DC possibly wanted to test out releasing more stories directly as graphic novels.
Gail Simone pitched an idea for a New 52 team book that would've starred Stephanie Brown, Bumblebee, Black Alice, and Misfit. The book would've effectively brought Brown out of Comic Book Limbo after her Batgirl series was cancelled.
There was a Doom Patrol remake pitched by Scott Lobdell and Illias Kyriazis that had a massive misfit team of players. They would have been lead by Beast Boy (going back to his Changeling code name) and Robotman (who would have been shrunk to toy size and forced to be worn around Changeling's neck.) and comprised of Zatara, Madame-.44, Platinum of the Metal Men, Sprout (who is most likely Swamp Thing's kid) and Bizzaro (though which one isn't revealed). Taking a cue from the modern Booster Gold series, they would have been a super team that went around stopping Earth-destroying threats yet never get any sort of recognition because no one would know about it.
In an example of how Executive Meddling and changes from an initial pitch can be a good thing, had Tony Isabella not pitched Black Lightning, DC's first plan for their first black male superhero was to be the Black Bomber- a white supremacist ex- soldier who underwent an experiment that would turn him into a super-powered black man whenever the powers would activate. The two scripts that were completed were stated to be very embarrassing in plotline, with the basic formula being that the main character would transform to save someone in need, but after de-transforming, he'd react in disgust and racial slurs at the fact that he'd saved a black person. The main character would also have two girlfriends (a white woman and a black woman for each identity) who would be aware of his secret and transformations. After Tony Isabella read the scripts, he convinced editorial to reconsider, and was given the opportunity to pitch his superhero instead.
However, in Dwayne McDuffie's run of Justice League, an alternate universe version of the League had a member named "Brown Bomber", as a Mythology Gag to the above failed concept. He was depicted as a bald white man in a hoodie, and would transform into a super-powered black man but could only use his powers for an hour. But this appearance also underwent some revision by editorial: Originally, there was to be a punchline where Brown Bomber asked Vixen if he now could "use the N-word", to which Vixen would reply "No, you absolutely can't". The Brown Bomber's question was edited out when the issue made it to print, but Vixen's response wasn't, leading to what looked like an awkward beat panel beforehand and Vixen responding to nothing.
Here is the edited version◊. It could vaguely be concluded that she is saying that he can't call his power "C.P.T.", although that barely makes more sense than her responding to nothing.
The female Dr. Light in Crisis on Infinite Earths was to originally be a black woman, but George Perez and Marv Wolfman reconsidered the idea while designing her, as they felt she'd be too similar to the then-current female Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau). In the end, they decided that she'd be Japanese.
When Jim Lee's Wildstorm imprint was bought by DC Comics, he approached his former coworkers at Image about an idea concerning both the Image and DC heroes by moving some of the Image heroes like Spawn to the DC Universe, a la Heroes Reborn. There was a lot of enthusiasm, but all that materialized in the end was a brief crossover where Majestic and Captain Atom got interchanged and spent some time in each other's universe.
The original villain for the Infinite Crisis leadup was originally meant to be Mr. Jupiter, a man who tried to help out the original Teen Titans near the end of their initial run. It was dropped and replaced with Max Lord.
The comic book Breach was initially pitched as a revamp of Captain Atom, before being changed to an original character. When the book was cancelled, DC even acknowledged this by revealing that Breach was actually an Alternate Universe equivalent of Captain Atom, before killing him off in Infinite Crisis and bringing back the real deal.
In fact, as a bit of an The Artifact moment, there's a goof in the first issue where someone refers to Breach by Captain Atom's real name. Somehow, the editors missed this.
The series Scarab was initially pitched as a Darker and Edgier reboot of the Doctor Fate character for the Vertigo line. The writer was forced to create an original character when the editors liked the pitch, but felt his take was too extreme to work for an established hero.
Siegel and Shuster conceived of two early versions of Superman before the famous one. The first was an ordinary man who gained mind control powers in an experiment and became a supervillain until his powers faded (too bad he killed the scientist who gave them to him in the first place) though this was a One Shot. The second version was a nonpowered colorfully attired strongman who went around beating up bullies. This second version eventually became the then mildly popular Slam Bradley (who didn't wear a costume, but otherwise looked a lot like Superman). In this case, Executive Meddling worked for the better, forcing the creative team to create the third wildly popular version of the character and define an entire genre of fiction.
It's well known among comic book geekdom that Kryptonite originally appeared in an episode of the old Superman radio show called "The K-Metal From Krypton", before migrating to the comics. What's less well known is that it was adapted from an old Golden Age strip of the same name that never got made. At the time the script was written, Superman's established origin was that, instead of being raised by a loving foster family, he grew up in an orphanage, concepts such as Smallville, Lana Lang, the Kents and other now standard aspects of his backstory simply did not exist. As such, Clark Kent was for all practical purposes a day job Superman worked to pay the bills and a pair of glasses he would rip off at the earliest opportunity, therefore, Siegel decided early on to do away with Supermans' Secret Identity altogether, feeling it was dead weight. In what would have been a massive shake-up of the status quo, Lois and Clark would have discovered Kryptonite and that Superman was an alien, Lois would have learned his secret identity and Superman would decide to just get rid of it. Clark Kent would cease to exist and Lois and Superman would become a crime solving/fighting team and a couple, with her as his Badass Normal detective sidekick/girlfriend. If that comic had been made imagine how the Superman mythos, and by extension the very concept of a superhero and popular culture in general would have changed. We'd be down a trope, and we'd have missed out on some good stories and TV shows, and some not so good ones.
Mark Millar, Mark Waid, and Grant Morrison's infamous 2000 Superman pitch, which among other things would have erased the Superman marriage via Lois being mindwiped after Lois is infected with a brain disease that threatens to kill her (on top of Lois being put on a bus out of the country by the three writers, to soften fans up for the purging of the marriage and restoration of the love triangle), Lex Luthor and Brainiac returning to their Silver Age roots (with the addition that Lex being revealed to be a world-class sculptor who finances his crimes via his art, which also double as a hiding place for his weapons of mass destruction), and the resurrection of the original Fortress of Solitude. The whole thing was so reviled by DC editorial that unfortunately it was outright rejected. Millar and Waid were officially blacklisted from ever writing the main Superman books after they went public with their rejection (though they were later allowed to do non-canon Superman stuff in the form of Red Son and Birthright). Grant Morrison didn't burn his bridges so badly however, and was later allowed to write "All Star Superman", which was a semi-sequel to his Crisis Crossover DC One Million...
It appears the post-Flashpoint DCU reboot is using some concepts from this proposal (namely Superman having no red trunks, both Johnathan and Martha Kent being dead, and Lois and Clark's marriage being nonexistent), though the actual extent remains to be seen.
The artist had also argued in favor of making Stephanie black, since he felt it would make sense and lessen some of the Unfortunate Implications behind having her "clean up" crime-ridden (and predominately minority) neighborhoods.
An odd case in the 1980s for Superman: According to Jim Starlin, back when the AIDS scare was the big thing, DC decided to have one of their characters be infected with the virus and die from it and set up a voting booth of sorts (Jim jokes that he stuffed it full of Robins). In the end, Jimmy Olsen was chosen to be the victim. However, when someone pointed out that one of the real-life actors that played Jimmy was gay, DC quickly got cold feet and scuttled the entire idea.
Superman: For Tomorrow and Lex Luthor: Man of Steel were actually supposed to be part of a massive storyline running through four different books. The main gist of the "Superstorm" storyline was that Luthor was planning to build a Spire in Metropolis that would end up killing Superman when completed. The story would have went through four titles: the aforementioned For Tomorrow storyline in Superman, the aforementioned Lex Luthor: Man of Steel mini-series and two mini-series starring The Question and Vigilante respectively. However, the writer for the Vigilante mini got into trouble with DC and, when he was dropped, For Tomorrow had just started, forcing them to drop the "Superstorm" thing. Little pieces of it, though, were still found in The Question mini.
Batman himself turned out much different from how Bob Kane first envisioned him. Bill Finger described the character as having worn red tights like Superman, a pair of red bat wings, and a small black domino mask. Finger, inspired by The Phantom, offered an alternative costume design which became an early version of the iconic batsuit.
Robin was originally to be named "Mercury", and would be a young boy that would wear a "super-costume". Jerry Robinson convinced Kane to bring the character down to a more realistic level and call him Robin (after Robin Hood).
The reason for the creation of Jason Todd: One of the Batman writers had wanted to de-age Dick Grayson and return him to being Batman's sidekick. However, Marv Wolfman, as writer on Teen Titans (DC's hottest property at the time), wielded a lot of power and suggested that instead, a new character could be introduced as Robin as a gimmick to boost sales, since such a thing hadn't really happened before.
During his original run of the Robin series, Chuck Dixon ultimately planned for Tim Drake to move on to becoming Blue Beetle for a period of time. Dixon had set up foreshadowing by establishing Tim as a fan of Ted Kord, and giving Ted a heart condition that would make it more difficult for him to do strenuous crime-fighting. Tim would then take on the role, while Stephanie Brown would temporarily become Robin in his absence. Tim would then go back to being Robin, and the "Blue Beetle" name would be franchised out, with Ted Kord training other new Beetles.
Chuck Dixon had also planned for there to be a miniseries featuring Spoiler, after she was resurrected and brought back to the Robin title. However, the miniseries never came to pass due to another falling-out between Dixon and DC editorial.
Gail Simone's original proposition for the Cassandra Cain Batgirl was to have her rescue a sincerely faithful Christian preacher to Gotham's homeless population from a mugging and be converted by his sincere, strong faith in forgiveness and the teachings of the Bible. Taking up a new, white-colored costume, and devoting herself to the most vulnerable of Gotham's residents — the mentally ill, the homeless, runaways and immigrants — she would become known as the Angel of the Bat and, for the first time ever, would be genuinely happy.
Gail Simone revealed via her Tumblr page that Cassandra Cain was originally supposed to join the Birds of Prey after the controversial Death of Oracle storyline, partially to answer complaints about the lack of minorities on the team. Simone claims to have started writing the issue before being informed that Cass would be used in Batman Inc. as the Batwoman of Hong Kong.
Which itself now falls under this trope. Grant Morrison wrote Cass into one issue but the New 52 threw things out of whack. It now appears she's (retroactively) been removed from the Batman Inc. team.
Simone also claims that she tried to have Vixen added to the team at several points, for reasons similar to Cassandra. She had also requested to use Flamebird at least twice, but was shot down as the character was restricted to the potential Batwoman title that had been in development hell at the time (A Batwoman story would finally come to pass with Greg Rucka's run on Detective Comics).
Scott Snyder intended to have Cassandra Cain in his first issue of the New 52Batman series. Some Executive Meddling lead to Cass being removed from the script, which lead to Snyder creating Harper Row as a replacement.
When Alan Grant wrote the first issue of Batman introducing Anarky, it was shortly after the death of Jason Todd, and he planned for Anarky to become the next Robin. Plans to introduce Tim Drake were in the works, but Grant didn't know that until he pitched his idea to DC. Of course, YMMV on whether having Anarky as Robin would have been better or worse, but it would certainly have been different.
Speaking of Jason Todd, Batman #428 had two panels drawn up - one for Jason living and one for him dying. The one for him living had a jubilant Batman crying out to the heavens "Jason's alive! Thank God." And it's been said that the phone calls between saving him and killing him were very close, so who knows what would have happened when Danny O'Neil walked down those halls carrying that panel instead of the one we all know of today...Even more, when news of the phone calls came out, many people had made a mistake - they had thought that it was Dick under the axe, not Jason. Thus, many of the phone calls were to save or kill a character who hadn't been in that identity for about six years in real life. Who knows what the outcome could have been if they hadn't had that mistake?
For Death Of The Family, Scott Snyder, Gail Simone, and Grant Morrison have all asked to use Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown in their stories. Maybe they would have appeared in Bruce's fantasy of his family waiting for him to wake up.
Sarah Essen-Gordon nearly survived Batman: No Man's Land. The final big storyline before NML ended would of had The Joker murder someone on the GCPD attempting to stop him from killing the babies he kidnapped. Both Harvey Bullock and Renee Montoya were chosen, but different writers fought for their survival. It wasn't until other writers noticed how, coincidentally, Sarah had been foreshadowing something big in her life that they used it to make her the Sacrificial Lamb for the story.
This happened in a "dream vision" manner at the end of Stephanie Brown's run as Batgirl. Thanks to Black Mercy, she got a vision of a possible future (which the author wrote as ideas he had for the title if it continued). Everyone agrees, they would have been awesome.
Greg Rucka had wanted to change Wonder Woman's costume in order to add a Greek-inspired armored skirt, but WB rejected the idea for changing her costume too much from its recognizable form.
There were plans in the 90's for a crossover between Wonder Woman and Xena, with the entire issue being completed before DC shelved it.
"Fab Five" Teen Titans
Teen Titans #20 originally featured a black superhero named Jericho, but the story was considered too heavy-handed in its anti-racism message. Fearing that they'd lose potential buyers in the South, Carmine Infantino ordered the entire plot rewritten. The hero was changed to a white man and renamed "Joshua". Marv Wolfman and Len Wein (the original writers of the story) would wind up blacklisted from DC for about two years as a result of the controversy.
Bob Rozakis had intended to move Wonder Girl and Speedy to Titans West, while bringing Bat-Girl and another member to the east coast team. This would set up a love triangle between Bat-Girl, Robin, and Harlequin, with both girls vying for his attention. Speedy and Wonder Girl's relationship would also have been focused on a little more.
Harlequin was to also be the star of a back-up story in the series Vixen in 1978. When Vixen wound up being among several potential titles to be axed, the Duela Dent back-up stories never got off the ground.
The New Teen Titans
Frances Kane was to become a superhero around the time of Crisis On Infinite Earths, with a concept design even appearing in DC Sampler, but this was put on hold after George Perez left NTT. The idea of Frances taking on a costumed identity did come to pass years later, though her color scheme was tweaked to be magenta and white rather than Perez's intended red and blue outfit for her. A proposed codename for her was long believed to be "Polara", although Perez says there was a different name in place (though he can't remember the exact one). In the final product, she took the name "Magenta" (after her costume color and as an anagram pun on her magnet powers).
Kole was originally going to be a crystal-spinning boy named "Cole".
Wolfman and Perez had penned a graphic novel titled "Games", that was to take place during New Titans and that would explain the final fate of Cyborg's friend, Sarah Simms. Due to Perez' departure and his later health problems, the novel's fate was a constant uncertainty. At one point, Wolfman considered tweaking the plot to have it tie into Geoff Johns' volume 3 run (with the current Titans being shown in a framing sequence), but this idea did not get far. The story was finally released as a standalone and out-of-continuity tale, with some tweaking done to its plot (although Sarah Simms' death remained intact). The original plans were included as an extra in the graphic novel.
Nightwing and Starfire were to actually be married, and would temporarily retire from the team while letting Donna take over as leader. The Batman editorial office did not approve, and their marriage was hastily canned while Nightwing was brought back to the Bat-books. Donna was also depowered (see below), leaving Arsenal to be the new leader instead. Interestingly, issues #81-83 of Mark Waid's run on The Flash refer to Nightwing and Starfire as having just been married, showing that the plan to have their wedding fail was indeed a sudden case of Executive Meddling.
Donna Troy would not have lost her powers at the end of the "Total Chaos" arc, but would have instead created a new costume from Lord Chaos' cape. The editor at the time (Peterson) had hoped to have her husband killed off at the hands of a demonic Raven, but this was nixed due to Donna being depowered.
Pantha was to get an origin story, written by Louise Simonson. In it, Pantha would be revealed to be a bookish woman transformed into a monstrous creature by the HIVE.
Wolfman had suggested the idea of Nightwing and Troia potentially being a couple, due to the fact that different editorial departments had split up two of his previously-established couples in canon (Donna's marriage with Terry and the would-have-been Nightwing/Starfire marriage).
Titans spinoff books that were rejected during this time included a proposal by Rob Liefeld (that evolved into Youngblood), a series for the team "The Hybrid", and another team called "The Rogue Titans".
A character named Split (who appeared in the series "Steel") was shown as a member of the Titans in the DC vs. Marvel trading card set, but never appeared in the series. One can only assume that he was intended, at the time, to join the team, but the idea never fell through.
One storyline that was never developed included Nightwing attempting to return to the Titans, only to clash with Arsenal over leadership and cause tensions within the team. Wolfman teased the possibility that Nightwing would form another group of Titans, and that the existing members would have been split between remaining on Arsenal's side or joining the rival team.
The mysterious leader of the Teamers was intended to be a grown-up Danny Chase from the future, but editorial decided to instead have him revealed to be Monarch in order to tie the title's cancellation into the Zero Hour mini-series.
One Team Titans idea that never got used bore some similarity to the Legion of Superheroes' "SW6 Batch" storyline: There would be a team of teenage, alternate universe versions of the Wolfman/Perez Titans that would wind up having to interact with their current selves.
Wolfman had also toyed with the idea of a Titans group modeled after the original five-member '60s team, but with more modern attitudes to contrast the originals' campy "goody-two shoes" personalities.
Phil Jimenez had wanted to do a story where Duela Dent (previously shown as an asylum patient in one issue of his run) would be revealed to be a member of one of the various Titan teams from the future, that would have been modeled after the '60s-70s team. Having been stranded in the past and separated from her team, she would have gone insane and stolen a special hourglass that would allow her to warp reality. The editorial team rejected the story for being too "strange" and for referencing Duela (who Wolfman and others would not allow to exist in Post-Crisis continuity). However, this story does appear in an injoke for a false "next issue" tagline in the final story of Team Titans.
Jimenez had also hoped to reveal that the Teamers were from an alternate Earth, and intended for Terra II to be a lesbian and an earth elemental-type. He had planned on killing off Mirage, who'd attempt to abort her unborn child by shapeshifting it out of existence and would wind up dying in the process.
Marv Wolfman re-introduced Kole in his run of Team Titans, as he'd regretted having had to kill her off. While he dropped hints that she was some sort of ghost or supernatural entity sent to aid the team, the editorial team told Jimenez to explain her away as one of Monarch's puppets.
Teen Titans volume 2
"Joto" was originally "Slag" in early promotional interviews. As a reference to this, Isaiah initially takes the codename "Slagger" until his father convinces him that honoring his Swahili heritage would be for the better.
Tim Drake was to originally join the team, but the Batman editors forbid the story and Captain Marvel Jr. was put on the team instead.
Wildcat was to be the team's mentor, but due to the depowering of the Justice Society in Zero Hour, Dan Jurgens was forced to scrap the idea.
Nightwing was to also feature in the title as a mentor, but the problems with the Batman editorial office (see above) persisted. The character Omen was also intended to be Raven (in her reformed gold spirit form), but was eventually revealed to be a new identity of Lilith's.
Three alien hybrid children were left unaccounted for by the time of the series' cancellation. According to Jurgens, one was the villain Sweet 16 while the other two were other wannabe heroes that had showed up at a membership drive (Kid Emotion and The Solution).
Titans volume 1
A spin-off called "Titans LA" was planned, but was rejected by higher-ups. It would have involved Terra II trying to find out the secret of her past.
Jay Faerber had pitched a story where Slizzath, nemesis of Tempest, had resurrected all the dead Titans as an army to fight the current team. In a way, the idea of zombie Titans sort of came to pass in Geoff Johns' run, as well as in Blackest Night. Another rejected story by Faerber included Mr. Jupiter being killed off, with the Titans having to solve the mystery of his murder.
Barry Kitson had wished to do more with specific characters like Bumblebee, Lilith, Terra II, and Risk, had the series not been cancelled. Although he has never gone into too many details, he did state that Lilith would have stopped using the Omen codename.
Faerber had hoped for Dolphin to join the Titans team and become a more active character. After Tom Peyer became the writer towards the end of the series, Dolphin and Tempest were written out, with Dolphin ordering her husband to quit the Titans.
The villain Epsilon was originally meant to be a serial killer that would hop dimensions to murder heroes. After the editors shot it down, Jay Faerber suggested that it would be a grown-up Danny Chase, resurrected by Slizzath and made into a darker and edgier villain. This was meant to lead into the plotline of Slizzath creating his army, but after Andrew Helfer came on as editor, these plans were scrapped.
Geoff Johns had originally wanted his Titans team to fight the Scarecrow in an early arc, but the Batman office would not allow for it. Blackfire was also intended to appear at some point during his run, but Infinite Crisis and Starfire's departure for the Outsiders caused her to be shelved (although Mike McKone's design did eventually get used in Blackfire's later appearances).
Johns had wanted to include Supergirl in the "One Year Later" roster, but since she was going a Darker and Edgier route at the time and Johns wanted a " naïve, fun alien chick", Miss Martian was created as a substitute.
Argent was considered as the first to die in Superboy-Prime's massacre, but was spared due to one of the editors favoring her and Pantha wound up dying instead.
Had Superboy not died in Infinite Crisis, Johns' plan for the next story arc would have involved him regaining his confidence to fend off the "Titans of Tomorrow", who would find a way to attack the present timeline. Sean McKeever slightly reused the idea of the future Titans' return, although in a much different type of story (to accommodate for both Superboy and Kid Flash's deaths).
Johns had set up threads for the then-new Aquagirl to join the team, but had to nix the plan due to the One Year Later status quo in Aquaman. Static was also promised for the team, but again, licensing complications with Milestone lead to his arrival also being delayed until long after Johns had left the title.
Issue 47 was originally pitched as a story where Duela Dent got to officially join the volume 3 team, after deciding to stick with them after the "Titans East" arc. As Duela wound up slated for death in Countdown, the issue was rewritten as a tie-in and focused on the Titans holding her funeral.
Sean McKeever had intended to reveal that the villain Sun Girl was pregnant with Inertia's child, upon which she'd appeal to Bart Allen and the other Titans for help. Editorial rejected the idea, and it only got as far as her pregnant silhouette being shown in a montage of "possible future" events.
Kid Devil would have eventually been resurrected in a story arc sometime after his Heroic Sacrifice, but this was pitched at the same time Dan Didio ordered for there to be "no more resurrections" (which of course, OBVIOUSLY really stuck long), so he remained dead. In the rejected story pitch, the demon Blaze would have revived him and used him as her slave, until he'd be freed by the Titans.
The New 52 reboot ended some stories before they could start. For instance, the finale of the Titans series hinted at Red Arrow and Jericho rebuilding the team... only for the title to end and an entirely new continuity to start the next month.
New 52 Teen Titans
The reboot of the title was originally not going to be a reboot at all. The initial pitch was that the Titans would've disbanded the team following their battle with the Legion of Doom, only to be forced to bring the group back together after several of their former teammates were kidnapped by the N.O.W.H.E.R.E organization. This explains the inclusion of Solstice, who was a very recent character at the time and yet still made the cut over a number of more popular characters associated with the team.
Likewise, the New 52 Superboy would've been a continuation of the previous continuity, with the new status quo (Superboy working for N.O.W.H.E.R.E. as an adversary of the Titans) justified via a mindwipe and Brainwashing.
Gerard Jones' version of Green Lantern: Emerald Twilight. Basically, the Zamarons (the female gladiator counterparts to the Guardians of the Universe) were supposed to take over the Green Lantern Corps, reinstate super-villain and renegade Green Lantern Sinestro as head of the Corps, and do away with all of the established weakness of the power rings (mainly the yellow impurity and 24-hour charge). Hal Jordan would then go renegade, but not in a crazy mass murderer sort of way, but in an Only Sane Man manner as far as going "rogue" rather than take orders from his arch-nemesis and a bunch of crazy war mongering space amazons. Apparently, DC editorial hated the scenario (largely because it required people knowing who the Zamarons were), so Jones resigned from the title, and Paul Levitz, Mike Carlin, Denny O'Neil, and Archie Goodwin wrote a new plot based on Jones' script, and gave it to Jones' successor, Ron Marz, to write. The result is the Emerald Twilight that was published currently.
You can learn more about Jones' Emerald Twilighthere.
The Falcon was originally hinted to be a mutant, with Professor Xavier bringing up the possibility during a crossover between Captain America and the X-Men. This was scrapped when a later writer decided to reveal that Falcon's abilities were the result of the Red Skull using the Cosmic Cube on him.
Also, in the original outline for Civil War, one of the victims of the Stamford explosion was the son of Pepper Potts and Happy Hogan, which would explain Iron Man's motivation for supporting the SHRA (Super Hero Registration Act).
Alias was originally supposed to star Jessica Drew as a washed-up former superhero who had turned to private detective work. The Darker and Edgier nature of the series resulted in Bendis being forced to create Jessica Jones as an Expy of Drew.
According to James Fry, if Marvel had approved of more Slapstick stories after The Awesome Slapstick, his Rogue's Gallery would have included established Marvel villains such as The Toad Men and the poultry-based team-up of The Black Talon, Gamecock, and Bantam — revealing them to be rival siblings in a battle that would have ended with all the heroes doubled over with laughter at their expense...
Runaways went through a few changes before publication. One of the big ones was Nico's source of power. Originally, she found a book of dark magic hidden in a shed in her backyard. Being heavily Christian, she hated it but sacrificed her beliefs to use one of the spells during the first fight with the Pride. Some aspects of this were left, including her being a former alter girl and a comment when she first sees her parents as dark magicians ("This isn't like you, Mom! We go to church every Sunday!") Also, Chase's name was originally "John".
Marvel 2099 was originally planned to have kept going after a certain point, being rebranded Marvel 2101 and featuring many of the characters living in the Savage Land after a great disaster.
Spider-Girl (Anya Corazon), Mania, and Galactus' daughter Galacta were all supposed to have been part of the Fearless Defenders at one point or another, but were shot down by editorial.
The role of the team telepath was originally going to be filled by Professor Xaiver, but was changed to Emma Frost when Xavier was killed by Cyclops near the end of AVX. You can still see certain panels where Emma appears to be limping, as she was superimposed over an illustration of Xavier using crutches.
The book was supposed to take place before the events of Marvel NOW!, explaining why Captain America and several other heroes are still clad in their classic costumes.
During his Avengers run, Kurt Busiek had briefly considered giving Ms. Marvel the new moniker of "Nemesis", in reference to her adopting a more vengeful attitude after her rape (Nemesis was a Greek goddess who was raped by Zeus). Busiek says he was never quite comfortable with the name, as he felt the explanation behind it would've been too convoluted, which is why he ended up renaming her Warbird instead.
Busiek had also intended for Triathlon to be gay, but ended up leaving that idea on the cutting room floor after the unexpected backlash the character received for being a "Token".
The West Coast Avengers: After the original mini-series, the original plan was to use the regular Avengers book to feature BOTH teams in alternating stories (as seen in issue #250). But the team's popularity put the kibosh on the whole idea. Plus The Shroud would have been part of the team.
Hulkling of the Young Avengers was originally pitched as a girl who posed as a guy when fighting crime; Wiccan was going to struggle with the fact that his love interest was sometimes male. It's been speculated that creator Allen Heinberg thought this was as close as Marvel would let him get to putting an openly gay couple on the team. Eventually he had a change of heart and asked for permission to make Hulkling 100% male. On the other hand, Brian Bendis and Tom Brevoort's steadfast refusal to allow Heinberg to outright overturn Avengers Disassembled via bringing back Scott Lang as Ant-Man and redeeming Wanda is why Heinberg bailed upon the title after the first 12 issues. Story notes however, such as Heinberg's plans for a rookie villain version of the original Masters of Evil led by an android version of Egghead were ultimately written by other writers, and the The Childrens Crusade miniseries seems to have accomplished the goal of resurrecting Ant-Man and bringing Wanda back.
Young Avengers vol.2 was supposed to have all original cast and several new members from the start, but Gillen realized the opening story would be too crowded and cut it to bare minimum. It was also supposed to be Spiritual Successor to X-Statix. Gillen wasn't allowed to use Patriot, because another writer already pitched a story involving the character, and when looking for another teenage Captain Geographic to fill the niche he thought of Miss America. Gillen also noted that with the addition of Loki and Miss America and their brash personalities, there would have been no room for Speed to stand out and with plot already revolving strongly around his brother it lead to him being Put on a Bus.
Way back in the 90's, Rob Liefeld pitched a Young Avengers series, but it was rejected for being too similar to the then-in-development New Warriors series.
Back when The Ultimates was still in the planning stages, Mark Millar considered making Captain America black, but Marvel vetoed the idea on the grounds that it conflicted with the "iconic" image of the character.
After his appearance in the first Secret Avengers story, the writers had plans to include Nova in more SA story lines. Unfortunately, DnA called dibs on having the character and killed him off during The Thanos Imperative.
Uncanny Avengers was originally supposed to have Brother Voodoo as part of the team, but Marvel refused to allow Rick Remender to resurrect the character. This is at least partially why the team ended up with such a white line-up, according to Remender.
In the original proposal for the Fantastic Four, Susan Storm was supposed to be permanently invisible and had to wear a mask resembling her face in order to be seen, as well as being an Invisible Streaker. Apparently having two heroes unable to depower is a bit much, and the proposal itself had this bit of reconsideration:
Stan Lee: I hope this won't seem to sexy in art work. Better talk to me about it, Jack— maybe we'll change this gimmick somewhat[.]
Likewise, the Four's costumes were originally supposed to include masks.
More recently, during the late '90s, when Chris Claremont was writing the Fantastic Four, he had planned to have Reed and Sue hire Kitty Pryde as a live-in nanny for Franklin Richards (this taking place after the cancellation of Excalibur), but then X-Editor Bob Harris wanted Kitty to rejoin the X-Men.
Giant Sized X-Men #1 gives the impression that right before the original X-Men series got canceled, both Havok and Polaris were active members of the X-Men. However if you go back and read those issues (along with the X-Men's guest appearances while the comic was in reprints) you'll see that they never actually went out with the rest of the X-Men on missions. Which is unfortunate, since this is one of the few things that could have made the Thomas-Adams era even better.
Wolverine was originally going to be revealed as not a human mutant, but an actual wolverine that was mutated into humanoid form. When another writer attempted this with Spider-Woman and the plot point was rejected, the writer decided not to go with the mutated wolverine bit.
Len Wein, the original creator, has gone out his his way more than once to crush this rumor. While it was the idea of another writer to have Wolverine as a wolverine cub evolved by the High Evolutionary, Wein had no part in this plan. He had always envisioned him as a mutant. Other rejected backstories for Wolverine included a mutant rancher whose bones were crushed and were replaced with adamantium while he was bedridden in the hospital and having Sabretooth as his father.
Long before Wolverine became the poster-boy for the X-Men books, he just barely escaped being killed off soon after joining the team. An editor was annoyed that Wolvie was so similar to Thunderbird (the other rebellious bruiser who was introduced in revamped lineup), and demanded that one of them be killed off in the Count Nefaria mission. In the end, Claremont decided to kill off Thunderbird. Three decades later, Thunderbird is barely remembered and Wolverine is one of the most iconic superheroes ever created. Go figure.
Mystique was going to be revealed as not Nightcrawler's mother, but his father, having impregnated another woman while in the form of a man. Executive Meddling prevented this one, as it was expected to be controversial. Fans however seem to like the idea, and occasionally a writer will suggest retconning it into the truth (particularly since the reveal years later of Nightcrawler's actual father, who is literally the Marvel equivalent of Satan, has pretty much caused massive Fanon Discontinuity and is among one of the main reasons Chuck Austen has become a pariah among comics fans).
Mr. Sinister was originally supposed to be the psychic projection of a kid who started stalking Scott Summers when they were both in an orphanage together. The fact that he was the invention of a child was the explanation for his (frankly) ridiculous name, and his entire look.
Gambit was supposed to be Claremont's Take That response on New Teen Titans villain Terra, as far as being a spy Mr. Sinister hired to infiltrate the X-Men, right down to seducing Storm to get the X-Men leader's confidence.
He also planned on using the Fury, created by Alans Moore and Davis in Captain Britain. The Fury would have merged with Nimrod, and ultimately been responsible for the Mutant Massacre, as well as teaming up with James "Mad Jim" Jaspers, another Moore/Davis creation, to destroy the X-Men. A dispute between Marvel and Moore over compensation * due to the differences in copyright law between the US and Britain. led to editorial nixing this version, and instead we got Mr Sinister and the Marauders, and the Adversary, respectively.
There was also the notion of a lengthy plotline where Wolverine is turned into the brainwashed minion of "The Hand"note This actually happened in a Mark Millar storyline decades later, only the Hand teamed up with HYDRA at the time, kidnapping Jean Grey to become his "Queen of the Night", leading to Forge and Banshee having to rescue Jean.
This "Dark Wolverine" story was later repitched as the opening storyline for the 1991 X-Men series: rather than fighting Magneto and the Acolytes, the X-Men would fight the Reavers, of which Lady Deathstrike would kill Wolverine via ripping out his heart. But the Hand (revealed to be in league with the Shadow King) would obtain Wolverine's corpse and recreate his heart/resurrect him as an agent and have him reappear in Uncanny X-Men #294, as part of the rematch between the X-Men and the Shadow King and his army of minions, as the Shadow King (via Gateway) seeks to gain control over everyone's dreams.
The division of the franchise into two books in 1991 might also have gone differently. A piece of original pin-up art by Jim Lee shows Wolverine, Beast, Forge, Strong Guy, Jubilee, Psylocke, Storm (in an unused costume) and Rogue, with Magneto looming in the background. Another shows Xavier, standing up, with Jean in an updated Phoenix costume, Storm (in the familiar '90s costume, suggesting this one was drawn later), Wolverine, Colossus, Gambit and Beast. There is a similar piece by Whilce Portacio that includes Cyclops, Jean, Archangel, Iceman, Gambit and Colossus with Xavier behind them. It's also been said that at some point Xavier would have been killed and Gateway, of all people, would have mentored some of the mutants. Also, let's not forget Jim Lee's "Things to Come" illustration with a creepy Skrull woman and Selene alongside Matsu'o, Omega Red, Longshot and Dazzler. You can see all of the art here.
Selene was there because she was the leader of the Upstarts, Lee's replacement for the Hellfire Club. Unfortunately, Selene was put on a bus when Lee left Marvel, as far as Bob Harras and Fabian Niceza deciding to use Gamemaster instead as the Big Bad.
The X-Men villain Apocalypse had been suggested as both the mastermind behind the Weapon X program (a plan fitting an immortal mutant with advanced technology and a penchant for playing god), as well as the third Summers brother who was sent back in time (explaining his and Mr. Sinister's obsessions with the Summers bloodline). Instead, Weapon X became part of Weapon Plus (with Captain America and Nuke being part of said program, as Weapons 0, 01, and 07) and the third Summers brother was sent to his death by Professor X, who then wiped Cyclops' memory when he got upset about it, but that brother came back to life with super-charged powers and conquered a galactic empire.
Speaking of Apocalypse, he was almost never invented at all. The first issues of X-Factor featured a mysterious master of the group known as the Alliance of Evil; writer Bob Layton was fired after five issues, and was replaced by Louise Simonson, who, along with editor Bob Harras, decided to create a new villain to be that mysterious master, and gave us one of the most dangerous X-Foes. Layton's original choice for the shadowy figure, however, was...uh...the Owl.
Grant Morrison, during his time writing X-Men, had planned to use Rogue and have her killed, setting up a brand new Rogue that would be a mix of her X-Men: Evolution self and the version played by Anna Paquin. However, Chris Claremont called dibs on Rogue for X-Treme X-Men...and ended up killing Psylocke.
Dazzlerwas originally modeled after Grace Jones◊, but Filmworks representatives wanted Bo Derek to play the role in the (failed) live-action adaptation, so she was redesigned to be a blonde white woman. Casablanca Records and Filmworks would then wind up backing out of the record and movie deal over financial concerns.
M in Generation X was intended by Scott Lobdell to actually be the twins Nicole and Claudette, with there being no real "Monet St. Croix" in sight (as it was only an alias they'd use in their merged form). Penance was also meant to be a Bosnian refugee by the name of Yvette. When Lobdell left and Larry Hama took over the title, he went with the idea of the twins merging but also opted to have there be a real Monet, who was trapped in the form of Penance. He explained away the "Yvette" references to Penance by stating that it was simply one part of Monet's overly long name note Monet Yvette Clarisse Maria Therese St. Croix. A rundown of the situation can be read here.
Brian Michael Bendis was offered the job of writing Ultimate X-Men from issue #1. While he eventually declines the job, he did sketch out a script for issue #1. If you want to read it, you can find it at the end of Ultimate X-Men Ultimate Collection book 1.
Ditko allegedly didn't intend for the Goblin to be Norman Osborn, though; that was Stan Lee's idea. Ditko objected vehemently, and Lee won the argument by virtue of being editor. This was rumor to be the last in a long series of arguments the two of them had over Spidey's direction; allegedly, Ditko considered this one to be the final straw, and he quit Marvel. However, more recently Ditko stated that their falling out had nothing to do with the Green Goblin's identity, and claimed that they'd both agreed that Norman should be the Goblin from the start.
Some rumors state that Ned Leeds was Steve Ditko's choice for the Green Goblin, backed up by the fact that near the end of Ditko's run, Ned Leeds and Peter had a very antagonistic relationship where they patched things up as soon as Romita took over. Ned was later framed for being the Hobgoblin, making him Marvel's go-to guy for not quite-goblins.
Tom DeFalco had intended to reunite Peter and Mary Jane with their daughter at the end of his run on Amazing Spider-Man, but his successors, Howard Mackie and John Byrne, wanted to bring Spidey back to his classic everyman roots and requested his long dead Aunt May be brought back to life instead. As luck would have it, Mackie and Byrne's stint on ASM was a critical and commercial disaster, and Tom was given the opportunity to produce a one-shot "What If?" based on the premise of the daughter being alive and well inheriting her father's legacy. The "What If?" was a success and led to a twelve year run for Tom on the Spider-Girl book, which fast became the longest running female-led superhero book in the history of Marvel Comics.
Instead of Eddie Brock, the Venom symbiote was originally supposed to go from Parker to a woman who had a grudge of her own against Spider-Man. The story was to be that a cabbie watching Spider-Man as he was driving hit and kills her husband trying to flag him down, she was also pregnant at the time, but lost the child. However, that idea was discarded when it was decided that she wouldn't be a credible enough threat.
Similarly, Venom was intended to be killed off in issue 400 (he first appeared in issue 300), so the symbiote could move on to other characters, like J. Jonah Jameson. It was swiftly killed when Venom gained popularity.
Marvel at the time, also felt that readers would not view a woman as a physical threat to Spidey, and in turn became something of a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy in that Spidey doesn't have many memorable female villains.
When J. Michael Straczynski thought up his ridiculously controversial Sins Past storyline (which revealed that Gwen Stacy had had a child with Norman Osborn, he planned for Peter Parker to be the childrens' father, but Joe Quesada, the EIC of Marvel, felt that this would age the character too much.
J. Michael Straczynski, then still the writer of Spider-Man, originally planned a very different version of One More Day, in which many events in Peter's life were changed by his helping Harry Osborn through his drug addiction. This would result in Norman Osborn never returning to being the Green Goblin, Gwen Stacy never dying, Harry and MJ never breaking up, and, in effect, Peter never marrying MJ. This was rejected, however, because Joe Q. didn't want to make all the stories of the past 35 years moot. Unfortunately, this storyline would make much more sense than Joe's version of One More Day.
While it might have made for a better story than "Spider-Man trades his marriage to the devil," it also would've COMPLETELY ERASED 75% OF MARVEL CONTINUITY. It would effectively be a "Crisis on Infinite Earths"-style reboot, replacing the entire Marvel Universe with an alternate timeline. As much as fans hate One More Day, most of them would probably agree that JMS' original version would've been even more of a disaster.
Another Spider-Man example, and possibly the best-known; Gwen Stacy. Stan Lee has said several times that he originally intended Gwen to be Peter's one-and-only, and that MJ was created only as competition for Gwen. However, for several reasons too numerous (and controversial) to name here, the writer who succeeded Stan, Gerry Conway, wrote the now iconic comic The Night Gwen Stacy Died while Stan was away. Many fans still wonder what might have been had Gwen Stacy survived.
There was also Gerry preferring Mary Jane and not liking Gwen Stacy at all and also Gerry Conway and John Romita wanting to kill off a major character to shake things up (and show anyone could die) and at first considering Aunt May before settling on Gwen.
John Romita confirmed the last one, mentioning that part of his reason for suggesting Gwen instead of Aunt May was that with Aunt May dead Peter would no longer have a convincing reason to maintain a secret identity. Also, everybody involved except Stan Lee (whose memory is by his own admission notoriously bad) agreed that Stan okayed Gwen's death beforehand.
Superior Spider-Man nearly happened a year or two earlier. Many at the staff wanted it to happen after Spider-Island, but Dan Slott thought it was too early to pull it off (he wanted to do the switch over at 700) and, thus, created Ends of the Earth.
The one-shot 101 Ways to End The Clone Saga showcased a number of other ideas that were shot down, including killing Ben during Onslaught, having one of the two Parkers come down with short-term amnesia after an explosion, confusing him as to if he was Ben or Peter due to the fact that his hair would be brown again, putting Peter through a Stable Time Loop, etc.
Marvel and DC
During various points in time, DC and/or Marvel have had opportunities to buy or license the rights to each other and/or some of their characters.
There has long been a rumor, for example, that during the 70s, for example, Marvel had an opportunity to buy DC's stable, but decided not to when they were told they wouldn't be getting Superman, Batman, and possibly Wonder Woman.
In the 1990s, while Marvel was in bankruptcy, Warner Brothers (and by extension DC) had a chance to buy Marvel, but, of course, it never happened.
Following Marvel vs. DC, there were plans for Wonder Woman to go to the Marvel universe for a year, while Daredevil would go to the DC universe (the pair's sales were roughly equal). Concerns about a potential copyright minefield prevented this. There were also talk of The Flash and Quicksilver bouncing to each other's worlds, too, but the copyright problems nixed that, too.
In a special feature of the JLA-Avengers hardcover edition, it was revealed that the original plan for Issue #3 was for the DCU to be portrayed with 60s era Marvel aesthetics (more soap opera elements and character conflicts) and the Marvel U portrayed a la Silver Age DC (more bombastic and light-hearted). This was nixed by DC in favor of the eventual darker Issue #3.
There was to be a second X-Men/New Teen Titans crossover that involved the Hellfire Club teaming up with Brother Blood, but the falling-out between DC and Marvel, due to Jim Shooter's temper tantrum that was "It should have been X-Men/Legion of Super Heroes", nipped the idea at the bud.
Jack Kirby's New Gods were originally going to debut in Marvel, and would have either tied in with The Mighty Thor or The Inhumans. However before plans had taken their final shape, Kirby got fed up with his situation at Marvel (being co-creator of at least half their money-makers with no creative custody of them) and jumped ship to DC, taking them with him.
Likewise, Jack created Kamandi because DC failed to get the license to do a Planet of the Apes comic.
Watchmen was originally penned to be about a group of Charlton Comics characters DC had recently acquired. But since the plot Moore wrote had many of them killed off and thereby unusable in future story lines, it was suggested he make up his own characters.
That's not all. The second Silk Spectre was going to be a teenage runaway simply named Silk, the world would actually be Twenty Minutes into the Future, with no disease and easy genetic modification. Antarctica was going to be a huge resort for the rich and wealthy, an idea which ended up trickling down to ultimately being only Ozymandias' lair.
There was supposed to be a legitimate prequel series to Watchmen, The Minutemen, which would have been of equal length and created by Alan Moore and David Gibbons. Moore's falling out with DC ended the prospects of this. Stranger still, going by comments made by Gibbons and Moore at the time, the tone would have been very different, attempting to recreate Golden Age comics as realistically as possible (if not an actual Reconstruction). This would have had far-reaching effects, since imitation of Watchmen's style was responsible for some of the worst excesses of the Dark Age of Comics.
Sonic The Hedgehog
Lots of storylines from the Sonic the Hedgehog comics end up like this, most notably an alternate version of the "Endgame" series where Sally was actually killed instead of put in a coma, a storyline involving a secret romance between NICOLE and A.D.A.M, and the very start of the "Mobius: X Years Later" storyline, dealing with the crisis that Locke "prepared" his son Knuckles to defend against, as per prophecy (hint: it involves an alien Eggman Expy). Oh, let's not forget the comic's recent Word of Gay reveal...
In fact, the sheer amount of this trope in the comic, combined with the demand by fans to know about it, has pushed former head writer Ken Penders to work towards revealing all of these dirty little secrets on his webpage. Thus far, plot details announced include the death of Snivley in a Heroic Sacrifice against Eggman, Sonic gaining a higher rank than Sally, conflicting with their relationship, and an alliance between Knothole and Station Square.
Ken also planned to have Bunnie and Antoine married as well. However, unlike Ian who blasted through the engagement and wedding in under three issues, Ken would of had the proposal in issue 175 and the actual wedding in 200.
Speaking of Antoine, he wasn't supposed to have been replaced with his Evil Twin, Patch, either: Karl had wanted Antoine to actually Take a Level in Badass and end the Bunnie/Antoine relationship, but Ken hated it.
And Karl Bollers wanted to: do a story arc where Knuckles and Monkey Khan get brainwashed by the Iron Queen and Eggman (respectfully) as part of a three-way battle between the Queen, Eggman and Mammoth Mogul over a power source equal to the Master Emerald; turn Snively into a Powered Armor-wielding Anti-Hero who allies with Shadow against Eggman; and have the Source of All return, being controlled by Ixis Naugus.
After Sonic and Sally went through the highly controversial break-up, Karl had plans for Sonic to date Amy Rose. However, Fiona Fox would end up developing feelings for Sonic and the two would become rivals for his affections. Though both girls would have a chance with Sonic, it never came to the level of Archie-Betty-Veronica fighting.
Given the reveal that the comic is practically being crushed under layers of Executive Meddling, it's hardly surprising.
The "Anonymous" storyline was originally supposed to reveal that the one acting as Anonymous was actually the original Robotnik (the one killed off in issue #50), but the plan fell through.
Oh, and the alien Knuckles was supposed to fight in the prophecy? It was supposed to be a man named Dr. Ian Droid, the bad guy who appeared when Sonic teamed up with the Image Comics characters.
The aforementioned Sally incident would of had started the same way the normal story began, with Sonic waking Sally from her supposed slumber. However, Sally would start acting more and more out of character before being revealed as a robot replacing the Killed Off for Real Sally.
Sonic Universe #50, the last issue before the jump to the upcoming crossover with Mega Man, was originally billed as the conclusion to the Sonic Underground series during one of the recent ComiCons. However, it was recently revealed that it was now a story involving two versions of Metal Sonic and no word on what has happened to this story.
After Sonic the Comic went reprint-only, writer Nigel Kitching posted some of his intended ideas for stories on the STC mailing list - here and here for example. Some of those ideas were later adopted by the STC-Online Fan Web Comics.
According to writer Ian Flynn, there was supposed to be two fusion characters in Sonic The Hedgehog Mega Man Worlds Collide. The comic showcased the first, Chaos Devil, a fusion of the water creature Chaos and Wily Base boss Yellow Devil. The other was supposed to be "Metal Bass", a fusion of Metal Sonic and Bass. However, someone (he forgot who) nixed it, and we have Sonic and Mega Man battling Metal Sonic and Bass.
The original origin for future Ensemble Darkhorse NICOLE was actually much more humorous in nature - Robotnik revived the Universalamander, a robot that forced Sonic to go Super Sonic for the first time. When the attempt to reshrink him failed, Sally whips out NICOLE, here called "NICOLE 7000", and uses her help to help Rotor build a new shrink ray that shrinks him to a molecular level. Word of God from Ian Flynn says that the story happened "to a point" - they fought the Universalamander and he was shrunken, but NICOLE's involvement was non-canon.
The infamous storyline "Endangered Species" was a completely different story than what was written. Among the things noted:
The original solicits mentioned the Dark Egg Legion also fighting against Thrash the Devil. This would have meant that it would be a Mêlée à Trois between the Dark Egg Legion, Thrash the Devil and Team Fighters for the fate of the Echidna species instead of Thrash outright winning right then and there.
The cover to the third part had half of it changed three times. The original cover had Lien-Da having her whip binding Sonic. The almost finished cover replaced Lien with metal tendrils and the final added in leaves to represent the returning Krudzu.
As Ian Flynn has stated: The arc was originally supposed to have a happy ending.
According to artist Ben Bates, had Ken Penders not tried to sue everyone and Sonic The Hedgehog Mega Man Worlds Collide not interfered, issue #250 would have ended the Mecha Sally storyline. Interestingly, Sally's redesign for the reboot was already set up for her return in that issue.
Due to Executive Meddling, the grand finale to Simon Furman's long-in-the-making saga for IDW's Transformers comic series was cut from 12 issues down to 4. Readers therefore missed out on epic battles featuring big bruisers like Sixshot and Monstructor, while the long-awaited confrontation between Optimus Prime and Nemesis Prime was reduced to a poorly-explained affair that lasted around three pages. It also resulted in many storylines and character arcs being shortened or even ruined. One character arc involved Sideswipe trying to get to Earth in order to save his brother Sunstreaker who had been kidnapped. The original ending had them being reunited and Sideswipe learning an important lesson, the new ending completely erases any potential brotherly relations between the two and Sideswipe learning the lesson that he doesn't give two craps about his brother or any suffering he experiences. One wonders just how much action readers missed out on by the story being reduced to a third of its planned length.
We nearly got a DC Comics/Transformers crossover, which would have involved Optimus Prime becoming a Green Lantern and Transformers being made out of Batman's Batwing and Wonder Woman's Invisible Jet. But by the time the story was pitched, DC was getting ready for its New 52 reboot, so the idea was nixed.
My Little Pony
Andy Price originally wanted everything to be hand-done, including the interior colors, similar to how his covers are done. That would have taken far too much time, however, so the interiors are digitally colored.
Thom Zahler (creator of Love and Capes and also did the Twilight Sparkle spotlight issue) seriously pitched My Little Pony for IDW's Mars Attacks!Cross Through event. The plot would involve Princess Celestia casting a spell to disable the Martians' weapons, causing them to find hilarious new ways to attack ponies only to fail and eventually learn the magic of friendship. The Martians would return to their own dimenision to spread love & tolerance, only to confuse their fellow Martians that didn't visit Equestria. Alas, the Cross Through came and went, and no ponies...
Gaiman once scripted an issue for Sandman taking place in the dreams of an unborn fetus as it's being aborted by a doctor, but he declined to publish it because he knew that the subject of abortion would generate too much controversy. And he considered it too dark, even by Sandman standards.
William S. Burroughs spent much of the 1970s collaborating with art student Malcolm McNeill to make a "Word/Image Novel" of Burrough's story Ah Pook Is Here. The book would have been one of the first graphic novels, but due to issues with publishers, the book went into development hell before being scrapped and unfinished. Ah Pook was eventually published as a short story without any of McNeill's artwork, with an animated adaptation (with no input from McNeill) being released decades later. Eventually, McNeill published his Ah Pook art as well as a companion book detailing the obstacles that he and Burroughs faced during their collaboration. The surreal, disturbing and detailed nature of McNeill's art leaves one to speculate the impact a completed Ah Pook book would have had on the comics industry and would have arguably catapulted Burroughs and McNeill as comic book icons.
The ending of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac was open-ended enough to admit a continuation, to say the least. In the first printing of Squee!#4, Jhonen Vasquez mentions his burning desire to get to work on the new JTHM series, and also recalls a mention in I Feel Sick of how Satan (who had been providing Rikki Simons and Vasquez with emotional support and sandwiches)was still hoping for a new Johnny series. From all appearances, the Prince of Lies is destined for disappointment, as are a good number of JTHM's fans...
Miracleman provides another Neil Gaiman example. A bit of the story of the fold of Eclipse Comics and the subsequent abbreviation of the comic is rehashed on the Miracleman page, but it doesn't mention that the series practically ended in the middle of a sentence. The frustrating lack of closure, tantalizing hints of what was coming provided in the unpublished pages so easily found online, and Gaiman's immense talent made the demise of the series agonizing.
But with Marvel now owning the series and Gaiman being on decent enough terms with them, things might change - as was revealed in the New York Comic Con 2013 as Marvel plans to rerelease all of the stories released by Eclipse Comics culminating in the release of the final issue.
In Fables, The Adversary was Gepetto, the puppeteer. However, Willingham actually had a much different plan for The Adversary's identity beforehand. Originally, he wanted the Adversary to be revealed as Peter Pan, who would come to the human world and kidnap children so they would remain young and corrupt. There would also be a hero attempting to save the children, and this would be none other than, of all people, Captain Hook. (Given the fact that Captain Hook was, in the original tales, a former Sadist Teacher, that's definitely irony) However, this was changed to Gepetto because Peter Pan wasn't public domain in the UK, and the characters of Fables all have to be public domain.
Heroic Publishing, around 2006 or 2007, was trying to get people interested in Fantastic Girl, a planned multi-media sensation who would diversify their line-up by being a Token Black heroine that would appeal to the old-school Blaxploitation fans. Fan reaction who totally negative, due to the limited info of her seemed to establish her as an Ethnic Counterpart of their Flare character, and as a result the character was quietly dropped.
The original six-issue adaptation of the Champions role-playing game was orginally going to be 48 pages per issue and was going to feature solo stories of the individual heroes on the team as well as subplots ultimately cut out of the actual books: The search for the new Giant, The Winter Wonderlass, and many others.
The first four issues would introduce the heroes individually, with the fifth issue revealing many of the menaces being connected, gathering the heroes together.
Also, Flare was originally not going to be part of the team.
Another Heroic Publishing example: Eternity Smith was considered for Eclipse's line of 16-Page 50-cent bi-weekly comics, but creator Dennis Mallonee declined. DC was also interested in it, but Mallonee took the book to Renegade Press for five issues before becoming part of Heroic Publishing.
More Heroic Publishing info: Icicle got her solo title by accident: Heroic was planning to use League of Champions as an anthology book for most of their characters, but George Perez was interested in doing the book, so they slapped together Icicle on short notice.
Not a comic book, per se, but the Star Wars daily strips were nearly cancelled and taken off the LA Times at the end of 1980. The Star Wars fanclub managed to convince them otherwise via a letter. The response also mentioned that they attempted to do something similar with Ziggy.
The "last" volume of The Sandman was going to be about an issue longer, with the speeches of Alianore, Odin, and Death in full. And Superman, but that was Executive Meddling.
When Image Comics gained the rights to create comics based off of Power Rangers Zeo, they had also plans to cross it over with Youngblood. However, all that came out of it was a small advertisement at the end of the only issue of the Zeo comic and a blurb in an issue of Wizard mentioning what would happen in the first issue.
Apparently, there were plans for a Judge DreddSpin-Off that was to follow a cadet class from day one to graduation.
In one interview, Alan Moore once claimed that he'd originally envisioned the titular team in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen being led by Irene Adler, of the famous Sherlock Holmes story "A Scandal in Bohemia", but eventually replaced her with Dracula's Wilhelmina Murray because he worried that not enough readers would have heard of Adler.
At the same time Archie Comics was pitching possible comics towards Capcom, leading to the creation of Mega Man, they also approached Nintendo with possible comics ideas. Sonic artist Tracey Yardley! sketched up a number of concept arts using characters from Mario, Kirby and Metroid. Sadly, Nintendo turned them down.
Alan Moore planned to end his Image Comics series 1963 with an Annual drawn by Jim Lee that would pitted the Marvel Silver Age expies from his series against the more morally ambivalent characters from the Image partners. He got about halfway through the script when Lee announced that he was temporarily retiring from drawing comics, and project was shelved.