Truly, the reach of Will Smith’s star power, even inadvertently, knew no bounds in the ‘90s.
Back in 1999 when Smith was arguably at the apex of his extensive Hollywood career, DC Comics was planning an adaptation of the bonkers flop of a steampunk action adventure that was Wild Wild West. As Newsarama notes, artist Butch Guice was tapped to work with Chuck Dixon and Scott Beatty on adapting the movie. However, as Guice himself recently revealed on Facebook, the project was scrapped with just a handful of pages worked on.
The reason? Smith never signed off on his likeness to be used in the series, and, well, if you’re making a Wild Wild West comic in the late ‘90s and you don’t have that, it’s kind of a problem, according to Guice:
I believe roughly the first eight to twelve pages of the assignment had been completed when word arrived from on high to immediately stop. It seems in the rush to get the work underway it had gone unnoticed by those who keep track of such things that the star of the movie, Will Smith, had failed to sign the contract allowing his likeness to be used in the comic.
Long story short, Smith ultimately chose not to sign the deal and DC chose to cancel the project in mid-stride, obviously hesitant to release a movie tie-in with the lead character in the comic looking distinctly different from the star of the same film. DC — to their credit — treated the creative team properly and paid us for the work we had done.
The quick turnaround on trying to get a licensed book out to capitalise on the movie, and Smith’s own busy schedule, just meant getting it secured ahead of time wasn’t considered. And so, Guice, Dixon, and Beatty’s work never made it to print, unseen until Guice shared a few of his pages on Facebook along with the anecdote:
Still, considering that Warner Bros., which produced Wild Wild West, had owned DC since the late ‘80s, you’d think someone at some point in the process would’ve noticed! At least we have this glimpse of what could’ve been.