Some new storyboards from Superman: Flyby, the infamous unproduced Superman movie written by J.J. Abrams, have made their way online. For as many superhero movies as we actually see in theaters, there are at least a handful of ideas for these movies that never see the light of day. One such idea came from the mind of Abrams, long before he went on to reinvigorate the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises. And even before he helmed Mission: Impossible III. Now, we have a new look at what could have been.
The storyboards were shared by Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse co-director Peter Ramsey. Taking to Twitter, Ramsey decided to share some of the storyboards he cooked up while he was working on the project for Warner Bros., back when it was still in development. They feature images of the Man of Steel flying above the Earth, and in the streets of a city, presumably Metropolis. Ramsey had this to say about the images in his caption.
"Some storyboards from a version of Superman written by J.J. Abrams way way back in the day. Never made, but I had fun."
These Superman: Flyby storyboards, in themselves, aren't terribly revealing. They are, however, a reminder of what could have been. In the early 2000s, roughly during J.J. Abrams' Alias days, he was commissioned by Warner Bros. to pen a screenplay for a Superman movie. At the time, the character had been dormant for some time as a result of Tim Burton's famously never-made Superman Lives, which would have starred Nicolas Cage in the lead role. Abrams eventually turned in a script titled Superman: Flyby which would have featured the death and subsequent resurrection of the famed DC hero, as well as a new villain named Ty-Zor. It also would have showcased his homeworld of Krypton and many familiar elements of his origin.
Eventually, Warner Bros. decided to go another way with it. The screenplay J.J. Abrams wrote did leak online at one point in 2002 and it was highly scrutinized. It's believed that factored into the studio's decision. Superman Returns would go on to mark the character's return. Released in 2006 and featuring Brandon Routh in the lead role, it proved to be a disappointment. That paved the way for Zack Snyder to come in and do what would become Man of Steel in 2013, the first movie in the DCEU, with Henry Cavill as our new Superman.
The future of Superman on screen is a bit in doubt right now. There's no real indication as to when, if at all, we'll see Henry Cavill back in the cape. Man of Steel 2 doesn't appear to be on the horizon and DC Films has been totally reshaped following the release of Justice League. Who knows? Maybe J.J. Abrams will get another crack at it, given that WarnerMedia is about to cut a deal with his Bad Robot production company. Be sure to check out the Superman: Flyby storyboards from Peter Ramsey's Twitter account below.