'Superman' Movie Still Has No Superman, And Now Has No Director

Brett Ratner blames exit on difficulty in casting title role.

Director Brett Ratner has left the "Superman" project, citing the difficulty of casting the Man of Steel.

Ratner came onboard the project roughly six months ago, working with a script from "Alias" creator J.J. Abrams after previous director McG dropped out to make "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle." Ratner met with a number of actors for the title role, including Josh Hartnett ("Pearl Harbor"), Paul Walker ("The Fast and the Furious"), Brendan Fraser ("The Mummy") and soap star Matthew Bomer (see "Halle Will Play Catwoman, But Will Brendan Be Superman?").

"I have chosen to withdraw as director of 'Superman,' " Ratner said in a statement. "The difficulty of casting the role of Superman has contributed to my decision. I appreciate the efforts of Warner Bros. and the entire production team during this process."

Though Ratner's option on the picture reportedly expired Sunday, on Tuesday Ratner insisted he was still on the project, even offering up a few names he had in mind for supporting roles ("Director Ratner Wants Hopkins As Lex Luthor In Superman Flick"). When pressed Tuesday about rumors he would be leaving the project, he replied, "Don't believe the hype. Don't believe everything you read."

Ratner was still on the project until late Wednesday, according to a source close to the "Red Dragon" director.

Superman hasn't flown on the big screen since 1987's "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace." Since then, several attempts at reviving the Man of Steel have stalled. At one point, Tim Burton ("Batman") was slated to direct with Nicolas Cage ("Adaptation") wearing the cape. Kevin Smith ("Clerks"), among other writers, was hired to take a pass at a script that focused on the popular "death of Superman" storyline from the DC comic book.

After that version of "Superman" failed to get off the ground, director Wolfgang Petersen ("Air Force One") announced that "Batman vs. Superman" would be his next project, but he later recanted, saying he would make the Trojan War epic "Troy" instead (see "Batman And Superman Have To Wait In Line Behind Greek, Trojan Warriors").