Monday, 8 April 2013

The Film That Wasn't - Superman: The Man of Steel (2009)

This is the 5th in the series of 10 upcoming posts based on Superman, as I mentioned in 100 Days of Superman.

Fan Poster
Superman: Man of Steel (2009)
This post is about the unproduced Superman Returns sequel  which would have tentatively been titled Superman: Man of Steel, and if everything would have gone as planned, been released in the summer of 2009.

This post will be detailing the facts, development, plot and eventual abandonment of the film project.

If we 'regard' Superman Returns as the follow-up to Superman and Superman II, one theme remains consistent, no matter how change the character interpretations are. That is that Superman, though he cares for Earth and fellow beings, doesn't feel that he belongs there.

At this point, the story takes a very emotional turn when he gives up his powers to be with Lois Lane in Superman II. He soon realizes that it was a grave mistake to consider both of them ever being together. Errors are rectified, timeline is revised, and Superman II ends with one improvision: Superman, though he harbors feelings for Lois, has now realized that he can never be with her.

In Superman Returns, this point is implied, but not directly referenced. He harbours affection for Lois, and somewhere deep in his heart, expects her to return his feelings, and thus 'remain' his, without being with him; making them kind of star-crossed lovers. The reality is, of course, different from his expectations, and he eventually comes to term with her being with someone else.

By the end of Superman Returns, it is established that Superman is no longer alone. He has a son now, someone who is like him. This was where the sequel came in.


  • The sequel to Returns was announced about four months before the release of Returns. It was announced with the confirmation of Begins sequel. (Ref)
  • Bryan Singer was to return as the Director. He ended his participation in a couple of other projects, making Returns 2 a priority.
  • Major Cast members, with the exception of James Marsden (who played Richard White in Returns), were to reprise their roles.


Reception of Returns.
  • Much later, Singer admitted that Returns was more of a woman film, not something that majority of audiences expected from a supposed-to-be Summer Action film. The film faced major competition from The Devil Wears Prada because of the tone. Singer then promised that the sequel will be more true to modern Superman mythos, and more action packed.
    • In this regard, Kryptonian Villains were to be included, with Brainiac and Bizzaro in consideration as major antagonists.
  • Despite positive reception, Returns was dubbed an under-performer in Box-Office collection.
    • The budget, thus, of the tentative Returns 2 was $175 million.
  • When the film was delayed until 2011, it was in development under the title Superman: Man of Steel, inspiring the title from The Dark Knight's success.


  • The story was to take place after about two years from the events in Returns.
    • Within this time period, Superman had returned to his usual activities, and had grown closer to Jason, who didn't know of his relationship with him.
  • Luthor's Kryptonite Island was still revolving in the orbit. It has continued to grow, and has reached the size of a smaller moon.
  • Due to it's visibility and Kryptonite radiation, a ship lands on Earth. The visitor is met by Superman, and is revealed to be another Krypton survivor, and explains that he found Earth because of Kryptonite Radiation. He befriends Superman.
  • He rises questions like why doesn't Superman interfere with Earthly matters, such as war and hunger. Superman explains the teachings of Jor-El, that he is not supposed to interfere with Earth's timeline events.
  • The Kryptonian visitor doesn't deem so. He declares Earth a war free planet, with any nation resisting to accept so being eliminated by him.
    • In return of compliance, he promises to promote peace, technology, and stop hunger.
  • Paranoid by the progress Earth is making, Superman turns to Jor-El, questioning the latter's forbiddance to share Kryptonian technology and interfere with Earthly matters. Jor-El asks Superman to investigate the Kryptonian.
  • They new Kryptonian is revealed to by Brainiac, a Kryptonian artificial intelligence, a programme infatuated with perfection, and him being the actual reason of Krypton's destruction. Brainiac also holds multiple copies of his clone, transferring his conscience in another clone if a previous copy is destroyed.
  • After an ensuing battle where all clones are destroyed, Brainiac possesses Jason, and Jason grows into an adult form with Brainiac's conscience (an alternate Bizzaro version).
  • Superman has to confront him, with the only seemingly possible solution being to kill Brainiac by killing Jason.

Delay and Eventual Cancellation:

Routh-Boot! Fans demand Brandon Routh to be brought
  • With budget set and story developed, production was to begin mid-2007. Bryan Singer, however, delayed production because of his participation in another project.
  • When filming was pushed to 2008, the writers of the film left for other career opportunities.
  • Due to the 2007-2008 Writer's strike, filming was further delayed to 2009, release to 2010.
  • In 2010, Brandon Routh's contract to play Superman expired. The studio was no longer bound to hire him as Superman.
  • The studio was desperate to produce a new Superman film, because the estate of Superman's creators would have been able to sue them if a film was not in production by 2011. They thus abandoned the lackluster script, and decided to reboot the franchise in line of Batman Begins.
  • With Nolan's pitch to a new Superman film being accepted, Returns 2 was shelved.
  • During the casting, the unusual amount of fan-base for Brandon Routh made the new director, Zack Snyder, reconsider his casting options.
  • In 2011, Henry Cavill was announced as the successor to the Superman role. Production began immediately, and Man of Steel (2013) was to be released in Dec 2012, later changed to June 2013.
Visit back soon. Thank You.

UPDATE: Thanks to Reddit, who promoted this post, this post has been viewed more than 1330 times now! There have been discussions about the plot of Returns 2 (which I would like to say is not from me, but was taken from this source), and those discussions can be viewed from here.


  1. Hey! Just wanted to let you know that I did check out your site, and wanted to add that I love your work and passion!

    I look forward to reading more, especially with "Man of Steel" coming out this Summer.

    Thanks for the kind words you left me over the weekend on my blog! Much appreciated!

    1. Thanks for visiting the blog, and for the encouraging comments!

      I also look forward to more posts from you.

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    1. Thank You for the kind comment.

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