J.J. Abrams Reveals What His ‘Superman’ Movie Would’ve Been Like
Think back to 2002, when Warner Bros. was eager to relaunch the Superman franchise and had J.J. Abrams as the man leading the way. It’s almost amazing to think – knowing now that Abrams was practically begged by Lucasfilm to direct ‘Star Wars: Episode 7‘ – that Warner Bros. didn’t move forward with Abrams’ vision for ‘Superman’ but his ‘Flyby’ was eventually scrapped and replaced with Bryan Singer’s ‘Superman Returns’ a few years later. Now, as ‘Man of Steel‘ is set to hit theaters this summer, Abrams reveals what his ‘Superman’ movie would’ve looked like and what, if anything, it has in common with Zack Snyder’s upcoming film.
J.J. Abrams wrote ‘Superman: Flyby’ in June of 2002 in what was expected to be a major relaunch of the ‘Superman’ franchise and the first new DC Comics movie since Marvel hit it big with ‘X-Men’ and ‘Spider-Man.’ Brett Ratner was attached to direct (ahem) and Josh Hartnett and Jude Law were among the actors who met for the starring role. But the project was plagued with problems from the very beginning. The budgeted soared past $250 million. No one could agree on who to cast as Superman. And Ain’t It Cool News ran a review of Abrams’ script that called it “a disaster of nearly epic proportions.”
Ratner eventually left the film and McG was hired to help shepherd the film into production but he too was unable to get production underway. All the while Abrams (who hadn’t yet directed a movie) lobbied Warner Bros. hard for a chance to direct his own script. They declined and instead brought in Bryan Singer (hot off ‘X2: X-Men United’) to completely start over.
So what was Abrams vision for his Superman film? The director spoke in detail to Empire and revealed what his movie would’ve been like:
The thing that I tried to emphasize in the story was that if the Kents found this boy, Kal-El, who had the power that he did, he would have most likely killed them both in short order. And the idea that these parents would see – if they were lucky to survive long enough – that they had to immediately begin teaching this kid to limit himself and to not be so fast, not be so strong, not be so powerful.
The result of that, psychologically, would be fear of oneself, self-doubt and being ashamed of what you were capable of. Extrapolating that to adulthood became a fascinating psychological profile of someone who was not pretending to be Clark Kent, but who was Clark Kent. Who had become that kind of a character who is not able or willing to accept who he was and what his destiny was.
The idea in the movie was that he became Superman because he realized he had to finally own his strength and what he’d always been.
Really, it sounds similar to ‘Man of Steel’ and Abrams admits that he’s very excited to see what Snyder and producer Christopher Nolan were able to do with this concept.
Meanwhile, as the Marvel movie universe continues to grow and the DC movie universe struggles to find its footing, it’s interesting to think that Warner Bros. had scripts for ‘Superman’ from J.J. Abrams and ‘Wonder Woman’ from Joss Whedon (two of the most powerful directors in Hollywood) and chose not to use either one.