Before we got Man Of Steel or even Superman Returns in 2006, there were plenty of other scripts being thrown around Hollywood. One such treatment, made the Kevin Smith Superman Lives script look tame in comparison. This was the JJ Abrams Superman movie, Superman: Flyby. And it was loonier than a speeding train filled with clowns.
Mr. Sunday Movies did a video essay on the history of Superman Flyby, which sums up the crazy pretty well. Check it out:
In case you don’t have six minutes to watch that, here are some of the plot details from Wikipedia, for the film which would have been directed by McG off of the Abrams script:
Turning in his script in July 2002, J. J. Abrams’ Superman: Flyby was an origin story that included Krypton besieged by a civil war between Jor-El and his corrupt brother, Kata-Zor. Before Kata-Zor sentences Jor-El to prison, Kal-El is launched to Earth to fulfill a prophecy. Adopted by Jonathan and Martha Kent, he forms a romance with Lois Lane in the Daily Planet. However, Lois is more concerned with exposing Lex Luthor, written as a government agent obsessed with UFO phenomena. Clark reveals himself to the world as Superman, bringing Kata-Zor’s son, Ty-Zor, and three other Kryptonians to Earth. Superman is defeated and killed, and visits Jor-El (who committed suicide on Krypton while in prison) in Kryptonian heaven. Resurrected, he returns to Earth and defeats the four Kryptonians, while the script ends with Superman off to Krypton, leaving a cliffhanger for a sequel.
Screenwriter JJ Abrams even described his vision for Clark Kent and the from alien child into a hero way back in 2013 for Empire:
The thing that I tried to emphasise 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 realised he had to finally own his strength and what he’d always been. I don’t know if that’s what Zack and Chris [Nolan] are doing, but it looks like that’s part of the idea and I could not be more thrilled to see that movie. That to me was always the way to go.”
And then of course, you can read the entire script online and wonder if everyone involved was on drugs at the time. Still, as mental as the idea of Kryptonian Kung Fu and a Lex Luthor alien sound, this might have been a preferable film to the stinker that was Superman Returns.
Last Updated: September 2, 2014