Superman might just have more unmade movies than any other comic book character, but all the wacky ideas Warner Bros. had for the franchise ultimately culminated in Bryan Singer‘s disappointing throwback, Superman Returns. That was followed by Man of Steel in 2013, and the iconic character hasn’t starred in a solo outing since.
While the character’s future remains uncertain, filmmaker Kevin Smith has offered some insight into what might have been. Talking on his Fatman Beyond podcast, the director revealed a letter he received from Warner Bros. on May 15th, 1996. In it, they share a pitch for a Superman movie he could have potentially written and directed.
“What I hold in my hand is a 24-year-old Warner Bros. letter,” Smith begins. “May I read it to you? ‘It’s time for the rebirth of a hero. As you know, we are making a new Superman film, taking the world’s most famous superhero into the 21st century. The enclosed collection of comic books forms the basis of the take outline. We would love to discuss this with Kevin Smith.'”
“This was the storyline that I was handed. ‘Alienated from the world he protects, convinced his relationship with Lois Lane is doomed, Superman is suddenly defeated and left for dead by the villain Brainiac, an intergalactic genius intent upon collecting the best DNA in the universe. Superman is secretly nursed back to health by his mentor Cadmus only to discover he has lost his superpowers.'”
“‘As Lois mourns the loss of her love and Brainiac frantically searches for Superman’s body, the Man of Steel returns, disguised, using a high-tech bodysuit to fight while he attempts to regain his superpowers,” the filmmaker continues. “While battling Brainiac’s henchmen Parasite and Banshee, Superman rediscovers his powers and his love for Lois Lane. In a final showdown, Superman destroys Brainiac and saves the world that he has come to call home.”
It’s an intriguing enough premise for a movie, but there’s a lot in there that’s just wholly unnecessary. After all, did we really need to see Superman don a high-tech bodysuit after losing his powers, only to quickly regain them? It sounds a lot like someone wanted to capitalize on merchandise opportunities there, as that would have given Warner Bros. another Superman toy to sell.