Long before J.J. Abrams mades Star Trek cool, directed the third Mission: Impossible film, and helped craft Lost, he was attached to make a Superman film for Warner Bros. The film would have been called Superman: Flyby, if it had ever made it off the ground.
Abrams recently gave an interview with Empire Magazine, and one of the conversations they talked about was Flyby. He actually addressed some of the themes that the film would have had, and he addressed a similarity to this summer’s Man of Steel.
“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.
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, 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.”
Abrams is right in that it appears Nolan and Snyder seem to be focusing on the theme of self-doubt and being overwhelmed with such powers. In the second trailer, there’s the telling line of dialogue from the child Clark saying, “The world’s too big.” The idea of the younger Clark being overwhelmed by his powers is certainly not a new theme. It was explored in Smallville, cleverly giving it the twist of the onset of puberty. Since a lot of people find it hard to connect to Superman, this is a very good way to humanize him.
However, while this idea is good, there were apparently a lot of ideas in Abrams’ script that weren’t. Flyby was very heavily criticized by Ain’t It Cool News back in 2002 while it was still in pre-production. The feedback was so negative that it’s rumored that it actually killed the movie. I’d actually recommend taking a look at the link.
In my opinion, judging from what AICN was telling us, it sounds like Superman: Flyby would have ended up being of of the very few bad movies in Abrams’ otherwise strong resume. There’s plenty of really questionable choices in there. However, since I know Jon Peters was still waiting in the wings back then, I don’t blame Abrams at all. That guy had some ideas so dumb that they border on insane.
What do you think about Abrams’ ideas for Superman: Flyby? What your thoughts on the Man of Steel? Why don’t you just tell us what you think in the comments below?