We’ve had our share of evil versions of Superman in popular media in recent years. There was the 2019 horror flick Brightburn which not only gave us a look at what would happen if learning of his alien origins drove a young Clark Kent-like character mad, but hinted at the existence of a whole Justice League’s worth of young super monsters. There’s Anthony Starr’s chilling performance as Homelander of Amazon’s The Boys. Then of course there’s Omni-Man (voiced by J.K. Simmons) of the animated series Invincible. Now it looks like another evil version of Superman could be on the way to the big screen — The Plutonian of Mark Waid’s Irredeemable. If so, his story is going to make the others look like a happy weekend in Smallville by comparison.
The news comes from the mouth of Irredeemable creator Mark Waid himself, though technically the writer hasn’t confirmed anything — he’s just really, really, really strongly hinting it. Waid appeared on the Spec Tales podcast released today (via CBR). The tease about a possible adaptation for his evil Superman started with a discussion of how comic book collectors should start picking up copies of 1984’s Secret Wars #3 — the first appearance of the villain Titania, in anticipation of the character showing up on Disney+’s She-Hulk. Waid added those same collectors should make sure they buy copies of Irredeemable, adding, “I cannot specifically say why. There are reasons beyond me wanting you to read it. That’s all I can say.” Later in the podcast, Waid mentions how Irredeemable fans were disappointed when a planned film adaptation didn’t materialize, saying “All I can tell [Irredeemable fans] is that you’re headed for a world of joy.”
Irredeemable was published in between 2009 and 2012 through Boom! Studios. The comic’s evil Superman, the Plutonian, is driven to madness before the events of the series which are ultimately revealed in flashbacks. When the series starts, Plutonian has already murdered millions, including many of the world’s superheroes and supervillains. With powers comparable to that of the Man of Steel, the Plutonian keeps the entire globe as his own hostage, with no one knowing whether or not their home might be the next one he abruptly decides to sink into the ocean. The only people left to oppose him are the surviving members of the Paradigm — Irredeemable‘s version of the Justice League, of whom Plutonian used to be a member. Driven to desperation, the Paradigm goes to any and all lengths to bring Plutonian down, including making doomed alliances with supervillains and beings from other worlds.
Back in 2016, Irredeemable was in development as a film by 20th Century Fox. On the Spec Tales podcast, Waid said that Disney‘s acquisition of Fox was bad news for that adaptation. According to Waid, Disney put the brakes on the evil Superman project because — as Marvel’s owners — they already had plenty of superheroes. If Waid’s barely-veiled hints mean what they seem to mean, however, then either Disney has changed its mind or Irredeemable has found its way to another studio. One possibility is that with the raging streaming wars, what was once a plan for an Irredeemable movie has instead become a plan for a series. That’s only speculation, but it seems clear that Mark Waid is hinting something is on the way. When we know, we’ll make sure you know.