Superman Flyby storyboards

Before the Snyder Cut of Justice League somehow became fanboys’ biggest “what if” obsession in DC movie history, another film that held that position was Superman: Flyby, a script from the early 2000s that was written by J.J. Abrams and set to be directed by McG before the project was scrapped and Superman Returns flew into theaters instead. The stories about Flyby are infamous (its plot is totally bonkers), and a popular article published on Ain’t It Cool News which completely eviscerated the script may be partially responsible for the movie never being made.

Somehow, all these years later, this movie that doesn’t even exist is still surprising us. Case in point: Peter Ramsey, one of the directors of last year’s brilliant Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, worked as a storyboard artist on Flyby, and he recently posted some storyboards from one of the project’s fight scenes.

Superman Flyby Storyboards

Abrams’ script took some major liberties with the Superman mythology. We’ve written a lot about it before, but here’s a brief synopsis for what it would have been:

Superman: Flyby was an origin story that included Krypton besieged by a civil war between Jor-El and his corrupt brother, Kata-Zor. Before Kata-Zor sentences Jor-El to prison, Kal-El is launched to Earth to fulfill a prophecy. Adopted by Jonathan and Martha Kent, he forms a romance with Lois Lane in the Daily Planet. However, Lois is more concerned with exposing Lex Luthor, written as a government agent obsessed with UFO phenomena. Clark reveals himself to the world as Superman, bringing Kata-Zor’s son, Ty-Zor, and three other Kryptonians to Earth. Superman is defeated and killed, and visits Jor-El (who committed suicide on Krypton while in prison) in Kryptonian heaven. Resurrected, he returns to Earth and defeats the four Kryptonians, while the script ends with Superman off to Krypton, leaving a cliffhanger for a sequel.

The script opened with a fight between Superman and Ty-Zor, and from the look of it, that’s the sequence Ramsey’s storyboards depict. The storyboards are great, and it’s easy to see how Ramsey went on to become a terrific director in his own right. His 2012 film Rise of the Guardians is criminally overlooked, and Spider-Verse is one of the most innovative animated movies of all time.

Both Brandon Routh and Henry Cavill, who each went on to play Superman later, screen tested for the title role in this abandoned movie. (Brendan Fraser tested, too.) Robert Downey Jr. was apparently locked in to play Lex Luthor (several years before Iron Man), Shia LaBeouf was attached as Jimmy Olsen, Scarlett Johansson and Selma Blair were in talks to play Lois Lane, Christopher Walken was in talks to play Perry White, and Joel Edgerton auditioned for Ty-Zor. You can see some concept art here.

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