One of the first pieces of online film journalism to truly legitimize the profession was Drew McWeeny’s September 2002 evisceration of a J.J. Abrams script for a film eventually referred to as Superman: Flyby. McWeeny, then working for Ain’t It Cool News under the name “Moriarty,” ripped apart Abrams’ script so completely, and in such a public forum, that he is widely credited for killing the film. To this day, the piece is a fantastic read.

This was before Superman returned and before Batman began. At the time, Warner Brothers was hoping to reinvent their superhero franchises with filmmakers like McG and Brett Ratner. They couldn’t know that the man who would eventually revitalize Batman was already working for them or that their Superman screenwriter would do the same for Paramount and Star Trek years later. This wasn’t the J.J. Abrams of Mission: Impossible or Lost. This was the Alias and Felicity J.J. Abrams.

Years later, we’ve got a tiny glimpse at what might have been if Abrams’ script got made, as well as another huge “almost” in Superman movie lore. Special effects guru Steve Johnson, who was responsible for revealing the Tim Burton costume tests for a failed late Nineties Superman reboot, posted a gallery on his Facebook with concept art for different Superman costumes as well as some sketches of Doomsday, who apparently was being considered as a villain if director Bryan Singer got a second crack at the Man of Steel after Superman Returns. Check them out and more after the break. Read More »

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Some major developments for the sequel to Superman Returns, tentatively titled Superman: The Man of Steel, hit the web today in quick succession. First, IESB reports that they’ve received “100%” confirmation that Bryan Singer will return to direct the flick and they’ve also heard that writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (Transformers, J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek) are in major talks to replace Returns scribes Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris.

And then, later today Empire actually chatted with Singer, who not only confirmed his “intent” to direct, but once again defended Returns‘ poor critical, fanboy and box office reception, while playing up action in the sequel…

“That movie made $400 million!” Singer says to Empire. “I don’t know what constitutes under-performing these days…Look, I can understand, I suppose, what some people mean. Perhaps some people went in with the expectation of it being like an X-Men film, and Superman is a tougher character than that. Especially bringing him back. It really goes back to the fact that you can only please some of the people some of the time. But, yes, I’m just getting back with writers after the strike. We’re just in the development phase. I’m starting to develop a sequel…with the intention of directing it.”

He goes on to jokingly jab at female fans who went ga-ga over Superman Returns, while mentioning the sequel’s upped stakes…

“The first one was a romantic film and a nostalgic film,” he says. “I’ll be the first person to own up to that without making any apologies for it. I knew it was going to be that from the outset. And now that the characters are established, there’s really an opportunity to up the threat levels…Clearly there’ll be a body count [laughs]. From frame one, it will be unrelenting terror! All those teenage girls who found the movie and mooned over James Marsden or Brandon? Well, I’m going to wake them up!”

I’m moderately surprised that Warner Bros. is going ahead with a sequel rather than scrapping it and revamping the character once again a la The Incredible Hulk or Punisher: War Zone. Not to sound like a smirk jerk, but the first film, which cost $200 million (I’ll still add an ! to that), totally blew it in my opinion and was basically one of the largest pet-projects ever. A Superman movie should reign supreme over all comic book films in terms of epic-ness, scope, special effects and box office, but even if Man of Steel boasts more action, it’ll still be difficult to get stoked after the first faux-weepy, overly nostalgic bummer.

Update (2 a.m. EST): CHUD reports that writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman are definitely not attached to pen the Man of Steel screenplay.

Discuss: Can Singer knock a sequel out of the park? Moreover was the only complaint about the first film merely action-related?

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