J.J. Abrams Talks His Scrapped SUPERMAN: FLYBY Script and How It Relates to MAN OF STEEL

     March 22, 2013


Later this summer, Warner Bros. will try to reboot Superman once again with Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel.  The DC Comics character has been a tough nut to crack since the original series of films that began with Richard Donner’s 1978 classic Superman, and there were many, many different iterations in development before the studio finally settled on Bryan Singer’s underperforming 2006 film Superman Returns.  Before Singer’s take got the go-ahead, though, countless proposals and scripts for a new Superman movie were in development with a number of directors like Tim Burton, Brett Ratner, and McG eyeing the property.

One of the more well-known Superman films that never came to be was Superman: Flyby, which was written by J.J. Abrams back in 2002.  Both McG and Ratner were attached to helm Flyby at different times, but the project was subsequently dropped in favor of Singer’s take on the character.  Now that Snyder is poised to present his own iteration of Superman with Man of Steel, Abrams recently spoke a bit about what he was trying to do with Flyby and how that relates to this summer’s Man of Steel.  Hit the jump to read on.

man of steel poster comic conSpeaking with Empire, Abrams spoke a bit about how he envisioned Superman’s origin story in Flyby:

“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.”

Abrams went on to talk about how Man of Steel looks to be taking a similar approach to the character:

“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.”

Though Abrams’ Flyby never got made, the filmmaker clearly recovered quite well.  He recently signed on to direct this little thing called Star Wars and his upcoming sequel Star Trek Into Darkness is one of the most anticipated films of the year.  I’m always fascinated by projects that are destined to linger in development hell for eternity and the stories behind them, so it’s definitely fascinating to hear Abrams talk about Flyby with a new Superman film on the way.


  • David

    That sounds awful. So glad this didn’t get made.

    • Alex

      How does that sound awful.

      • sssss

        Everything jj the hack does is awful

  • Josh

    My brother had a friend that went to film school around the same time JJ’s script for this movie got leaked and he said it was one of the worst scripts he has ever read. The only way to make a good Super man movie is to do what Nolan, Goyer, and Snyder are doing with this film. Make him powerful and indestructible, but also make him grounded in a real world that highlights the human aspects of that character.

    • Jon

      Your brother’s friend went to film school? Cool story dude.

  • ourshark33

    It does sound bad, but like the article states, Superman is (to me) one of the toughest characters to bring to film. If you go back and watch the Reeves movies, they definitely do not hold up. The comics even have a tough time, thats why DC has paired Superman/Batman and Justice league to much success. He is basically immortal (im aware they killed, him) and has the power to move a planet, how do you make a compelling story with that in mind? A character has to have a flaw to be able to root for him or against him. To me the best Superman stories are Red Son & Earth One & The Superman/Batman series. These are more character driven stories, a deeper look into the motivations and orgins of Supes and show a side that is not normally seen. The Abrams treatment sounds bad, but I like what Ive seen and read from the Snyder and Nolan Man of Steel. If they get it right, it could be a great franchise for years to come and lead up to somethign with a JL movie. If they get it wrong, it could be 10 years before it is tried again.

  • lisa1963

    What also sounds awful is the hack jj doing star wars, what total shiit that is going to be, he is going to butcher star wars like he did with star trek. None of his stuff is canon anyway.

  • Keith

    The beginning of the pitch sounds like Rick Veitch’s old Maximmortal comic from the 1990s.

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