June 5, 2023

The history of Dazzler, a largely peripheral but popular member of the X-Men that debuted in X-Men #130, could be a film unto itself, a story of race, disco, missed windows, and cross-media promotions. But it pales, though, in comparison to what could have been: a Dazzler film with a concept so crazy it hinges on the cusp of believability. Forget Taylor Swift‘s rumored association with Dazzler on film. This film would have had Rodney Dangerfield as four characters. KISS fighting The Village People. Cher and Donna Summer as rival queens, with Spider-Man and the Avengers appearing as themselves. And it gets even stranger than that.

RELATED: ‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix’ to Introduce Dazzler on the Big Screen


Who Is Dazzler in Marvel Comics?

Image via Marvel Comics

Dazzler, aka Alison Blaire, is a mutant, whose abilities lie in converting sound vibrations into light and energy beams to further her life as a pop/rock/adult contemporary star. Dazzler was created at the height of the disco craze, inspired by Jamaican-born singer Grace Jones, with Marvel hoping to cash in on the genre’s popularity. Marvel had partnered with Casablanca Records, with the intent to create a character that benefited both companies through tie-ins between comic books and records. Marvel’s Editor-In-Chief at the time, Jim Shooter, tasked writer Tom DeFalco and artist John Romita, Jr. with the project. By the time Dazzler hit the pages of X-Men, disco was dead, mere months after the infamous Disco Demoltion Night of July 12, 1979.

Where Does the ‘Dazzler’ Film Fit In?

Grace Jones in Boomerang
Image via Paramount Pictures

The Dazzler that DeFalco and Romita Jr. created was a black woman, inspired by Grace Jones, who Romita Jr. saw as a realistic representation of a nightclub singer. That vision was altered significantly by the partnership between Marvel and Casablanca Records. Casablanca saw Dazzler as an opportunity to expand that partnership beyond their record division and pawned the character off to Filmworks, the film division of the company. They were thinking movie, and they were thinking Bo Derek. As is often the case, money trumps artistic vision, and the Dazzler that was released to the public was a young, blonde white woman, clearly modeled after Derek. The proposed movie did interest Derek, who insisted that her husband John Derek direct the film (they even met with Marvel about it, captured on the cover of People magazine in February, 1980 with a handful of Marvel comics).

‘Dazzler’ Was Going to Have Crazy Casting

Cher as Loretta walking down the street in Moonstruck
Image via MGM

Dazzler was initially proposed as a half-hour animated special, with a host of Marvel heroes and a who’s who of 1970s talent. Shooter was asked to draft a script over the course of four days. What he came up with was the craziest, most insane concept, so grand in scope that it simply had to be a feature film. The characters alone, paired with the original vision of an all-star cast, tip off just how bizarre the story is, with Bo Derek as “Disco Dazzler”, Cher as the Witch Queen, Donna Summer as the Queen of Fire, Robin Williams as love interest Tristan, Laverne & Shirley‘s Lenny (Michael McKean) and Squiggy (David L. Lander) as the Jesters, KISS and The Village People as the Deadknights and the Stompers respectively, and Rodney Dangerfield with four roles – Dewey, Cheetham, and Howe (clever), and Lord Chaos.

What Happens in ‘Dazzler: The Movie’ Script?

Image via Howling Wolf Films

The film opens at a Dazzler concert, when suddenly Spider-Man, the Avengers, and Dazzler herself are transported to a dystopian New York, where a battle between the forces of the North, astride unicorns and chariots crafted from old Volkswagens, and the South, who ride big lizards and Datsun trucks, is under way. The heroes get separated, and Dazzler is captured by Lord Chaos and Tristan, while the Witch Queen and her super-powered Deadknights (one with cat-powers… guess who?) keep Iron Man, Spider-Man, and the Scarlet Witch captive in the single World Trade Center tower. The Wasp, the Beast, and the Falcon are being kept in far classier digs, the Queen of Fire’s MoMA, and under the watchful eyes of her Stompers. Cheetham rescues the heroes and convinces them to take on the forces of the North and the South.

But alas, Cheetham is actually… the evil Lord Chaos! It’s then revealed that Tristan, working with Chaos, duped both Queens into fighting one another. The conflict is stopped by Dazzler, who turns the horrific sounds of war into a placating disco light show. Now besties, the Queens then unite their forces and attack Lord Chaos, presumably taken down by Gene Simmons and the policeman from The Village People the Stompers. The heroes are returned to their home with the combined magic of Cher and Donna Summer, who then govern New York peacefully with their paramours, Lenny & Squiggy. Dewey, Cheetham and Howe open up a law firm, only none of them are seen at the same time in the same place (okay, the last part isn’t in the script, but it isn’t really that much of a stretch).

It isn’t really clear on how close Dazzler: The Movie came to actual fruition, with the most visible sign of its consideration being the pic of Bo and John Derek on the cover of People. The dream cast was presumably never approached, or at least no one other than Bo Derek has admitted to being asked about their interest in the project. What is known is that the deal between Marvel and Casablanca/Filmworks died very shortly afterward, leaving KISS as the only group associated with the project that actually did work with Marvel, infamously adding their blood to the red ink used to print Marvel Comics’ A Marvel Comics Super Special!: Kiss. Dazzler: The Movie is an 11-page masterpiece of madness that never would have seen the light of day without Shooter himself releasing the script on his website in 2011. It remains a fascinating addition to the pantheon of films that never went past the planning stage, but Dazzler: ‘The Dazzler Movie’ Movie, on the other hand, has some real potential, with Taylor Swift as Bo Derek as Dazzler. Mind blown.

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