J.J. Abrams Gives Empire The Dirt On ‘Superman Flyby’

by Brett White

An excerpt from May’s issue of Empire Magazine is making the rounds today, most likely because it contains the most comprehensive take on J.J. Abrams’ lost Superman film from the man himself. Comic Book Movie states that the treatment was delivered to Warner Bros. in 2002, when the most impressive items on J.J. Abrams’ resume were “Felicity” and “Alias.” The project, called “Superman Flyby,” contained a more psychological take on the hero.

“The thing that I tried to emphasize 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.”

Check out the rest of Abrams’ pitch, as well as some concept art, below.

“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.

“The idea in the movie was that he became Superman because he realized 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 [in “Man of Steel”], 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.”

Here’s the concept art for “Superman Flyby.”

Superman’s red shorts just can’t catch a break.

Inklings of “Flyby” have indeed popped up in the “Man of Steel” trailers, which show a more grounded and humbled Superman. Abrams also envisioned Krypton torn apart by a civil war and a new villain named Ty-Zor giving Superman some Earthbound trouble. Warner Bros. would pass on the treatment, and Abrams would go on to rejuvenate the “Mission Impossible” and “Star Trek” franchises. Now Abrams is adding the “Star Wars” franchise to his resume, so he’s doing just fine.

This story echoes that of Joss Whedon’s failed “Wonder Woman” film, in that Warner Bros. passed on treatments from television creators who would go on to become two of the most successful directors of the new millennium. Oh well, Warner Bros., what can you do?

What do you think of “Superman Flyby”? Let us know in the comments or hit us up on Twitter!