Brainiac Storyline of Bryan Singer’s Superman: The Man of Steel

Published 4 years ago by , Updated January 30th, 2011 at 10:53 am,

superman the man of steel story brainiac Brainiac Storyline of Bryan Singers Superman: The Man of Steel

[Update: Henry Cavill has been cast as Superman]

Over the last few weeks we’ve seen images of what could have been very different and arguably far-fetched Superman films of the past. From concept art of Tim Burton’s disco-suited Superman to unused designs of Doomsday for Bryan Singer’s take on Superman, it simply never came to be.

For those who enjoyed Superman Returns, we have loads of details on what would have been its sequel had Bryan Singer been given the chance to make Superman: The Man of Steel. Based on the events of Returns, it actually sounds pretty cool. Oh, and it includes Brainiac!

IESB put up the report a few days ago which goes into detail on scenes from Superman Returns that were never released and more interestingly, Bryan Singer’s plans for its sequel. There were several different basic outlines for how the sequel could have played out but the storyline that would’ve likely been turned into a full screenplay included the following plot points which I’ve summarized into point form below:

  • Singer’s The Man of Steel takes place several years after Superman Returns where people are used to having Supes back.
  • New Krypton, Lex Luthor’s growing island that Superman tossed into space has grown into a speherical moon that the people of Earth can see.
  • The new moon attracts attention of alien visitors however, and a big alien ship arrives.
  • Superman flies up to check it out. It carries another Kryptonian survivor. Party time.
  • Clark takes his newfound friend on a tour of Earth but this other Kryptonian is puzzled as to why Superman hasn’t used his powers to fix the world of its problems (hunger, war, etc.). I kind of like this guy.
  • Superman explains the rule of not interfering with development of Earth.
  • The visitor disagrees and aims to use his powers to “fix” the world with his first mission being to intervene in a feud between two third world countries. War breaks out but the Kryptonian takes things into his own hands and ends it quickly by annihilating their armies.
  • For his second opening act, the new alien visitor lays down rules for the entire world, saying that there will be no more wars or he will deal with the aggressor country.
  • The big modern societies of the world are in favor of this, applauding the new “hero” who is now willing to share advanced tech and use his powers to end the world’s other problems. Those who disagree feel the wrath.
  • As a result, Earth’s familiar Kryptonian, Superman, has been outcasted since he didn’t do this earlier and kept advanced technology from them.
  • Suspicious of the other Kryptonian, Supes examines the ship to find it loaded with clones of his new friend.
  • Using the ship’s computers, he find out this other Kryptonian and clones are actually an artificial intelligence which has grown on its own since Krypton has destroyed. Its/His name: Brainiac.
  • Over the years since Kryptonian’s explosive end, Brainiac has travelled from world to world, “fixing” them and then destroying them and Earth is his new target. It was Brainiac who actually destroyed Krypton.
  • Superman tries to let the world’s leaders know and ends up battling Brainiac who can continue to resurrect into other clone bodies in stasis.
  • Eventually, the Man of Steel takes down the ship but Brainiac transfers his consciousness into Superman’s kid. Remember him?

You can imagine the moral dilemma here. Earth or the Brainiac-infused boy? In the end, young Jason White is killed by his red-caped dad in order to save the world and fans who didn’t like the idea of Superman and Lois having a baby rejoice. Brainiac plus the removal of the kid storyline sounds like a good deal. I wonder how Lois takes that? James Marsden’s Richard White character probably isn’t too sad…

I actually would have been interested to see a movie like this come to fruition had Singer’s continuity continued but I’m satisfied with Zack Snyder at the helm of the reboot. We know it’ll be a different origin story and that it Superman: Man of Steel won’t be based on specific comic storyline. Any guesses or wishes?

Share your thoughts in the comments and with us on Twitter @rob_keyes and @screenrant.

Source: IESB

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  1. Oh geeeeez. So glad this wasn’t made. Superman Returns was bad enough, turning to Superman into a deadbeat dad and a homewrecker. Having him kill his own son, even to save the world? COMPLETELY antithetical to the core of the character. I would have wept bitterly into my popcorn and cursed the world for getting my fav superhero so utterly wrong.

    • Yea, the scene where he eves drops on Lois, white and the kid was disturbing. Made Superman look like a jealous ex spying on his girlfriend. Superman is supposed to inspire us to be better than we are, instead we got a deadbeat, jealous fool. Also, when he found out Luthor was free, did he try to find him to make that right? No he ignored it. That script was an insult to Richard Donner and Tom Mankiewicz.

      • We don’t know he didnt look for Lex, it could havet happened off screen. As for him watching Lois, he loves Lois, its perfectly natural he would want to keep an eye on her…

        • And also hadnt the charges against Lex been dropped since they didnt have a witness because Superman wasnt there?

          • Yes, but after all the crap that Lex pulled to that point, my Superman would have located Lex and gave him a warning that he is watching him very close. And knowing Lex knew of the Fortress he would have secured it. Besides he destroyed the Fortress in the restored version. They knew this stuff when they wrote that pile of crap.

          • Luther Escaped from Prison at the start of S2, there’s a charge you don’t need SM for. And in the Laundry scene when he says “How do they choose to congratulate the greatest criminal mind of our time” Otis or the guard says “Life plus Twenty”. He was already sentenced.

        • He did keep an eye on her as Clark Kent.

        • Despite what Edward Cullen would have you believe, using superhuman powers to spy on someone you love isn’t romantic, it’s stalkerish. If a guy who liked me was creeping around my house listening to my conversations with my fiance, trying to figure out how I felt about him, I’d get a restraining order.

      • You realize he can’t be a deadbeat dad if he doesn’t know he had a son…right?

        • Yea I guess your right. It’s just the fact that he left without telling her. I thought that was contrived to keep a distance between them. My Superman (Christopher Reeve) would have told her he was leaving, giving her the opportunity to tell him.

        • Point…though I think the fact that he leaves after getting Lois pregnant and presumably mind wiping her so she doesn’t know it’s even a possibility is pretty close in terms terribleness and kind of paints him in the same light.

          • That’s the point, though…He didn’t know she was pregnant and mindwiped her because of what he considered to be his responsibility to the world and the danger she would face being with him. A child was never even an issue.

    • i agree but
      remember superman is an alien so antithetical to the core of the character doesnt mean anything

      • Are you really arguing that because Superman is an alien he can’t have a consistent personality and values? He has basic character traits that faithful adaptions should try to stay true to; he’d be a complete non-character otherwise. The fact that he doesn’t have the same genetic makeup as human doesn’t make him into some kind of personality-less robot or plot device. Why would anyone care about him at all if he were one of those things?

    • eyee agreed

  2. Actually, that story outline sounds amazing. It sounds like the type of stuff Bryan Singer would really excel at. Instead, they had to do “Superman Returns”. I know they felt like they had to set everything up but, I kind of wish they would’ve just made this one instead. It might have actually been a great, entertaining movie instead of the boring one they did instead.

    • Singer excels at nothing.

      • I agree, he changes the characters to fit his story. It should be the other way around.

      • The first 2 X-Men movies were great.

  3. I thought it sounded pretty good, up until the sacrificing the kid part.
    But, that was always gonna be there if it was a sequel to Singer’s film.
    Maybe he could have had Brainiac transfer in to James Marsden’s character’s brain/body instead, LOL.
    I pray Snyder can make sense of this character, he deserves a good solid flic.

  4. Reads like bad fan fiction. Which is exactly what I suspect it is.

    • Spot on, my friend….. These so called details sound nothing more than an “old man’s sick joke”

  5. Entertaining movie? Maybe. Movie that yet again destroys Superman? Pretty much. I’m sorry…Superman would try not to kill anyone, let alone a child, let alone his child. I think I know one of the many reasons Superman Returns failed. It’s fairly laughable at how that idea is NOT Superman. (P.S I hated the kid but having Superman kill him? Really? REALLY?)

  6. i’m really hoping they somehow use the smallville continuity. there’s almost no reason NOT to, right? they have an established universe that makes launching a JLA easier than playing catch up with 3 or more independent movies with cameo’s ala hulk and iron man. if the story is right, the director has the vision, and smallville already has its built in audience, it should as close to a slam dunk as possible. obviously recast the roles that need to be with whatever A-listers they want to, but i’m starting to jump on this tom welling band wagon after this season…

    • Me, i’m one of the biggest Smallville fans there is, been watching since day one.
      But I have come to accept, as much I would like to see them use the Smalville versions of these characters on the big screen, hell will freeze over before that happens. It’s 99.999 % impossible.

    • @”i’m really hoping they somehow use the smallville continuity. there’s almost no reason NOT to, right?”

      Sorry, but I don’t want Smallville the movie.

      • Well, neither do I, but I can still see Tom Welling, Erica Durance and Michael Rosenbaum being great in a big screen Superman film, with a $150 million dollar budget and a good script…

        • Me too. It wouldn’t have to be attached to any other Superman movie. Make it it’s own movie. Continue the story through a movie. I like, I like.

          • Or at the very least a TV movie, do Superman and JLA TV movies with the Smallville cast..

            • They are or were suppose to be doing a Smallville movie after their last season, probably as a TV movie but it was called Metropolis.

              • I think that was cancelled, but yes I did hear about that last year, there were supposedly banners at Comic Con but they never put them up, and everything about the project just vanished.

  7. I’m a little confused. That concept art of Doomsday was for a Singer movie, but we ended up with Returns. Now This sequel to Returns story surfaces with Brainiac. So what happened with the Doomsday story? Was Doomsday scrapped in favor of Returns? They should have just went with Doomsday, killed Superman and rebooted from there. Atleast a reboot would have made sense.

    • This above story is widely regarded as total BS fan fiction, there is not a shred of evidence to say that its real.
      The Doomsday stuff is official and was for a possible sequel to Superman Returns.

      • Yea, I agree. The Son becomes the father, and the father kills the son. lol What a brain twister.

        • Its the simple fact that we all know Superman would never kill anyone, regardless of the circumstances, he just doesnt have that in him.

          • No he wouldn’t, BUT he would sacrifice himself to save humanity and I feel if left no choice, would even sacrifice his son to save Earth.

            • Well, yes of course he would sacrifice himself, that goes without saying but it goes against everything Superman is to take a life.

  8. He’s gonna ground his kid in the phantom zone yo!

    • There you go. That would work for me.

  9. Saying It here and Now Zack Snyder is doing the Superman : Earth One storyline

    • It’s much more like Birthright to me.

      Goyer’s script has been written for some time, before Earth One was being developed.

      • Zack Snyder has reportedly said that they aren’t doing any one particular storyline from the comics. But the wording of that (any one particular storyline from the comics)makes me think that’s an intentional throw-off.

        I actually think the new Nolan/Snyder Superman movie will be a combination of comic storylines while setting up for new story potential as Nolan/Goyer did for the other Batman movies that already came out. Batman Begins was derived from Batman: Year One, The Long Halloween, and a 70s Batman story called The Man Who Falls that showed Bruce Wayne’s training overseas. The Dark Knight was derived from The Killing Joke and Dark Victory. And both movies set out to do a new story while using aspects from the comic storylines they were derived from. Not one particular comic book story, but actually SEVERAL. ;)

        There’s all the talk of the new Superman movie mirroring Birthright. That could play a factor in setting up the movie, IF it’s used in this way. David Goyer even read Superman: Earth One well before it was released in hardcover at the end of October. He did one of the comments on the back cover of it. Now he may’ve not had any time to incorporate any of it. Unless he had time to add an alien invasion/Brainiac thing to the movie’s script or something. Depends on when he read Superman: Earth One.

        At the very least, I do think the movie costume will probably mirror Superman: Earth One.

        • I actually wish they were doing Birthright. Other than the auras thing, Birthright is still my favorite origins.

          • But Birthright is all about the set up, and Lex is a big part of that story too, and does anyone want to see another origin movie?


  10. Was sorta hoping Jason would end up somewhat like the current Superboy in the comics… maybe sacrifice HIMSELF to stop Brainiac inside him instead of Superman killing. That’s a big no-no there. Long established Superman does NOT Kill anyone, let alone his own SON.

  11. [I'm letting this comment through just so regular visitors can see WHY I've placed this person on the auto-moderation list.- Vic]

    Everyone’s bashing on this now. But I guarentee that when details finally pop up about Snyder’s story, everyone on this site will be bashing it like mad. It’s the Screenrant code.

    The Screenrant code reads:

    Rule 1: No film is worth watching
    Rule 2: Thou Shalt not disagree with the powers that be of Screenrant
    Rule 3: Disagree with us, and thou shalt be cast out from commenting
    Rule 4: Everything we post is not opinion, but fact. If we say a film is bad, it is bad.
    Rule 5: Your opinion doesn’t matter. Unless you blindly follow ours.
    Rule 6: If you see a film we declare is bad (all of them), you shalt be cast from the Screenrant.

    • Ummm, Gary is a happy person, isn’t he ?

    • Garrryyyyy. I understand trolling, understand that it exists at least. But a dishonest troll :(

    • Finally he’s out!

    • Lol.

      • I have to admit, I wasn´t always on the same page as Gary, but he had some interesting points from time to time…

  12. Hey…how about Supes fighting Brainiac, who’s gone into the body of the Superman Returns scriptwriter?

  13. I think if they blow it this time with Supes they can kiss the character good-bye except for possible permanent relation to the small screen forever..GIVE US A GOOD SUPERMAN FILM WHICH EMBODIES THE TRUE SPIRIT OF THE CHARACTER WHILE AT THE SAME TIME ALLOWS SUPERMAN TO BE UNLEASHED SO THE VIEWERS AND CHARACTERS IN THE FILM FINALLY RECOGNIZE HOW POWERFUL AND NOBLE THIS GUY IS!!

    • relegation to the small screen I meant…

  14. Why bother talkin about what Singer’s sequel would of been? Both Singer’s sequel’s idea & the reboot sounds lousy imo.

    • The simple reason is because it’s interesting to see the ideas they had. Just like it was cool to hear the ideas for Singer’s X-Men 3.

      • @ Rob Keyes

        Point taken i guess after you mentioned Singer’s idea of X3 which imo had to be better than Ratner’s. I partly didn’t Singer’s idea for Superman Returns sequel, the kid part anyways. Id do away with the kid appearing in the sequel or any further films & just mentioned him by name at the least.

  15. Truth be told, I like this material – though, admittedly, I’m not a Superman purist by any stretch.

    Still, it does present Supes with some interesting philosophical dilemmas…

  16. Spotted a typo… knew I was reading a Rob Keyes article.

    • Hey Rob/Roger,

      Welcome to auto-moderation based on this and a history of bashing Rob K repeatedly.

      Have a nice day.


      • If Rob/Roger REALLY wants to pick a nit, I’m sure he’s pulled a few typesetting wiffleballs in his time…this is, of course, based upon the presumptions (A) that he’s Human like the rest of us and (B) as such, is prone to the occasional imperfection in word or deed.

        Bravo to Vic for allowing us to see The Emperor in his New Clothes (to reference a childhood story about vanity, gullibility, etc.)


        danlister, the self-identifying imperfect man

        • the self indentifying imperfect man? BRILLIANT NAME!!! if someone makes a typo that i made, let me know… dont just say it to spite me… im sure that everyone here agrees with me…

          Its funny that you mention a typo too, cause you dont share it, then you insult rob just for the sake of insulting, thats really low man… real low…

          next time just say what the typo is, dont say it just to spite someone, that is no way to make friends…

          Have a nice day :D

      • Vic just curious would you call this inappropriate Rob on Rob contact?

        Lol I’m sorry I couldn’t resist

      • I’ll be using my last name initial from this point on.

    • Rob/Roger, let me clarify brandon’s advice: See, I noticed a mistake YOU made…a rather large and ignomious one, at that. You gave us not one but TWO (!) fragments, as opposed to a properly formed sentence. Oh no–whatever shall we do…?

      See how dumb you sound when you nitpick?



    • You forgot to capitalize the K in knew after the wasteful use of the . Knew I was reading a Rob comment.

      Grow up

  17. Now this movie would have been epic!

    Not to late to toss Zac Snyder over the side and let him direct the next batman instead

    I actually rather liked the last Supes (would have liked in more without Spacey in it)

    And I like Brandon Routh as Supes too. I thought he was great and would have grown into the role given a chance. He had the physique too even though the darker blue costume hid that fact

  18. Glad this did not come about and they just rebooted. This sounds too political (yes political) to me

  19. Lose the Kid UP the action and Superman Returns would have been ALOT better. I do like some of stuff mentioned in this article, except for killing the kid. Superman does not kill. Ever. That’s not what Superman is about.

  20. As a non-comic book fan, and just someone who likes the movies, that outline sounds pretty cool. Maybe too much to pack into one movie, but still interesting.

  21. I think I would have enjoyed this movie.
    from reading this I think he was pulling it all together
    I still do think Zach Snyder’s Superman will be awesome.
    still hope to see Brainiac, just god please don’t make Lex the main villain…again..have him in running for president…They should have either Brainiac or Parasite as main villain….Toyman as secondary…Doomsday for the sequel…and Darkseid in the last film
    just my idea

  22. This sounds awful and yet somehow still sounds better than the crap fest I’ve been reading of the Zack Snyder Man of steel.

    • Anything sounds better than the bastardised nonsense origin story BS that SNyder is going to pull.

    • @ Daniel F

      The Nolan’s also had a hand in Snyder’s Reboot aswell.

      • I doubt any of Nolans work will survive now Chris Nolan has left the project, Snyder will do his own thing with a sub standard script.

  23. I know I would have seen that one it sounded pretty good

  24. Seems interesting but I’m getting really annoyed by people going on about a Smallville movie and Tom Welling playing Superman, he doesn’t look anything like him and he should just stick to the show seriously give it a rest already. Hopefully this movie under Snyder’s belt will be a bigger success than Returns, not that I disliked it I just want to see what he can do that Singer couldn’t.

    • Oh is that annoying you?


      Maybe, if it’s annoying you, you can get people to stop sharing their opinion.

    • @ Devin

      LOl it wouldn’t be Smallville The Movie if Welling has been Superman for over a year in the reboot if they chosed to have the film follow from Smallville’s continunity. Jon Hamm imo looked more like Lex Luthor than Superman unless they did a remake of biopicture about George Reeves, then yeah Hamm would be perfect. Maybe they should give the Superman franchise another 20 years or so.

    • I wholeheartdly agree Devin.

  25. This sounds horrible. Fans NEVER wanted the baby to die in a Superman movie. They just wanted him to never have existed at all. They got that with the reboot. And of course Marsden’s character cares that the child is dead! He raised the boy as his own son. Lois would be devastated. Superman would be changed forever by murdering his own son. This is a terrible, terrible storyline and I think most people can celebrate it never happening. It is hard to believe Singer could dream up such an awful story. Then again he dreamed up the awful story of Returns, so we shouldn’t be too surprised.

    • Thank you for saying exactly what I was thinking. I mean seriously Superman breaks his no kill policy to kill… A little kid? I means sure the kid is taken over by Brainiac but still… It’s Superman killing a little kid on the big screen. Unless this takes place like 15 years later or something this would be horribly damaging to Superman as a property and the story beyond that sounded pretty bad anyhow.

  26. Nitpickers and naysayers would have clammed up if ANYTHING like what I just read above would have been on screen. I even think Milllar would have shut the heck up.

    The thought that the New Krypton island would be more like a “moon” is an interesting idea. I think Brainiac’s deception is greatness. While not mentioned here, It would not shock me if Kandor showed up somewhere in the bowels of Brainiac’s ship. (Hey, if he helped “destroy” Krypton…)

    So what happened?
    Too big of a budget?
    ‘Returns’ coming in with not the cash WB expected?
    Mixed reaction on ‘Returns’ from fans?

    In spite of all that, the premise seems something that sounds reasonable, somethings set up in Returns that would pay off later with this story. I read the premise again and I’m baffled as to why something like it isn’t even remotely considered.

    Yes, all the above could be factors. But all that needed to be said was “Brainiac” shows up and folks would stop bellyaching… but that never happened, did it?

    So I reread the premise a THIRD time, and it hits me between the eyes.

    Brainiac was meant as a surprise.
    It makes sense to me now. If “Returns” was thought up as a setup for the next story, I’m more forgiving. But it has to be set up. It’s near perfect, isn’t it?

    But as a stand alone film, “Returns” was an overall letdown. If Singer planted a few seeds for Brainiac (just enough to get fans talking in a good way- think the Phoenix references in X2) then it might be enough to calm the waters. Because I’m putting on my own thinking cap. Let’s say it was intended as a surprise and the surprise was a big secret. Taken at face value, let’s say Singer was still directing and this was the headline at SR and elsewhere:

    “Singer introduces ‘New Kryptonian’ Superman Man Of Steel”

    How many folks would say one of the responses?
    “Superman Returns sucked!”
    “Singer’s crazy!”
    “Lame idea. Why not use Brainiac” (*without knowing that’s the plan*)

    And then:

    “New character revealed to be foe of Superman”

    Pick the response:
    “Superman Returns sucked!”
    “Singer’s crazy!”
    “Zod? Kneel before Zod?!”

    Now, the ubergeek comics fans who I pity will rebut this and say “Well, he’ll just come right out and tell us that Brainiac is the new foe, passing himself off as a ‘phony Kryptonian It’s a poor scenario, Darren

    Is it? It’s set up is a surprise. You want the spoiler that bad, do you? Not that it matters- because that charge bounces us back to the here and now- we are just finding this out! It was a surprise. It was a plot under wraps. And “we” didn’t give it a chance.

    That’s the sad truth, but I’ll play fair and just ask everyone to ignore what I just said—and go with the notion that it was just budget (which is possible) and that “Returns” was a mixed bag by itself (plausible).

    And Singer should have left those crumbs.

    • You want to know why they didn’t do it? Because it was a god awful mess of an idea. It made Brainiac nothing like himself and you really think that after years of DC not letting Superman kill someone they’re going to make him a baby killer in front of millions? They’re going to let him kill a kid…. Really? That makes sense to you. It could ruin the character for years to come. There are enough comic fans that would take issue with Superman killing at all. There would be tons more that would take offense to him killing a child regardless of the reason. His own kid too! It just gets worse and worse with this idea.

      Also Returns sucked and yes WB was very disappointed with both the reception and box office especially given the extremely high budget of the movie.

  27. I sometimes wonder if *some* fanboys aren’t psychologically or emotionally damaged. Normal people don’t find the idea of parents murdering their children “cool”. If this was the plan, it is no wonder WB canceled the sequel.

    • it’s called “drama”.

      through the ages, there have been archetypal storylines involving kids killing parents, parents killing kids, etc… it is part and parcel of what makes good “moral dilemma” drama.

      we’re not talking about some voyeuristic story about some random parents that kill their kids for kicks.

      I can assure you that I am neither psychologically nor emotionally damaged (how arrogant and presumptive of you, not to say insulting), and find the idea behind this moral dilemma quite fascinating.

      • There’s nothing fascinating about this dilema at all. It’s just a twisting of a long established character. As poorly done as the prior movie was I doubt this would have been pulled off well at all. They engineered an unwanted child character simply so Superman could kill him later. There’s nothing fascinating about that. It’s just another ham-fisted attempt to sloppily engineer mediocre drama. This would have exploded in the face of Singer, DC and WB. Singer should be grateful they didn’t allow him to make this. The news would have focused on “Superman Kills His Child” and Singer would of been the guy that made him do that. It would of been a terrible blow to the reputation of Superman (who always finds another way but I guess decides “What the heck it’s easier to just kill the kid.”) and Singer who probably would have become the Joel Schumacher of the Superman franchise.

  28. I like the idea of the movie. Just because the early concept has Superman killing his son, doesn’t mean it would have made it to the final cut. Alternate endings are filmed and they test them out.
    Just like in the 80′s cartoon movies with Transformers and G.I. Joe, when audiences were outraged that Optimus Prime died, G.I. Joe went away from Duke dying and only becoming wounded.

    • You got a valid point there.

  29. I wonder what all singer’s ideas for the plot for X3 would be like. I know it still involved the Phoenix but also including the Sentinels aswell.