Zack Snyder (Army of the Dead) delivered his own take on the DC universe with his stance on characters like Superman with Henry Cavill (Mission: Impossible – Fallout) across Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and his four-hour-long cut of Justice League. It turns out JJ Abrams (Star Wars) was going to have his own stamp on the iconic hero with a very weird movie titled Superman: Flyby.
2002 was a different place for JJ Abrams as he made hits like Felicity and Alias, but not quite where he is now since he has worked on Star Wars, Star Trek, Lost, Super 8, or Mission: Impossible 3. By July 26th, 2002, he had the first draft of his own Superman movie that is only titled after the hero that we today know as being played by Henry Cavill.
Say what you want about the Henry Cavill standalone movie and the team-ups with Justice League; Hollywood’s attempts to bring the Kryptonian to the big screen was an uphill battle throughout the 90s and 00s. Writers attached ranged from William Wisher (Terminator 2: Judgment Day), Dan Gilroy (Velvet Buzzsaw), and even Kevin Smith (Masters of the Universe: Revelations). At some point, there was going to be a Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands) Superman film with Nicolas Cage (Pig) attached as the iconic DC superhero.
All of that dissipated over time, and we still were not even close to having Henry Cavill put on the blue and red suit. Andrew Kevin Walker (Se7en) was going to pen a script for Batman v. Superman: Asylum with Wolfang Petersen (Air Force One) set to direct. On top of that, there was the JJ Abrams project in the making.
The elements from the JJ Abrams project differ greatly from what fans watched when Henry Cavill debuted in Man of Steel. Flyby would have featured General Zod too, but less than an antagonist and more of an angsty relative. Meanwhile, the iconic poor disguise that Superman is known for would be altered as his glasses were meant to control his powers with “lead-specked” lenses. Clark Kent would be, at this point in his life, a senior in college who is not sure what he wants to major in until he meets journalism student Lois Lane at a party. That gets him going on his journalism career, but his Superman alter-ego would have to deal with other issues. Jonathan Kent would have died from a heart attack after learning about Clark’s first outing as the superhero.
It sounded like JJ Abrams had more ambitious ideas than what we got from the run of movies with Henry Cavill. It would have seen a robot-populated Krypton with Jor-El as the king of the planet. His notes offered plenty of details like musical cues and so on, but it also mentioned the ambitious idea that all scenes on Krypton would be spoken in the native language, something that would be developed for the film. It is a reminiscent idea of the Dothraki language that was developed for Game of Thrones. Unfortunately, that ambition, along with some threads that were too similar to other stories, left it dead in the water.
Today, there remain pieces of concept art for the Henry Cavill and JJ Abrams Superman project that have been released online.
While we will never get to see this iteration of Superman with Henry Cavill or any other actor, we do have photos from a screen test that was taken along with some fascinating concept art. It gives us an idea of the look of Superman and this world that the Lost producer had in his mind.
Actors like Henry Cavill, Christopher Reeve (Superman), and Dean Cain (God’s Not Dead) have all put on the iconic costume to play the equally iconic DC character. DC is developing a movie that will feature a Black Superman with JJ Abrams attached to produce the film with author Ta-Nehisi Coates penning the script. While we don’t know who will play the new Superman, it has caused all sorts of buzz about actors who could take their chance to deliver the first Black big-screen iteration of the character. Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther) is rumored for the project, but it is unlikely as he is developing his own series on the hero for HBO. At least Abrams will finally get his chance to make a movie on the flagship superhero after all these years of trying.