J.J. Abrams Compares His ‘Superman: Flyby’ Script to ‘Man of Steel’

Published 1 year ago by , Updated February 15th, 2014 at 4:28 pm,

Man of Steel Poster J.J. Abrams Compares His Superman: Flyby Script to Man of Steel

Long before Zack Snyder’s Superman movie Man of Steel began gearing up for release -and even before Bryan Singer’s 2006 filmSuperman Returns - Star Trek Into Darkness director J.J. Abrams had an idea – and even a script – for a movie about the origins of Clark Kent, which was tentatively titled Superman: Flyby.

The film was scrapped whilst still in production, but in the midst of trailers and promo pictures being unveiled ahead of the summer release of Snyder’s film, Flyby has also come to light once more as the Superman movie that might have been but never was.

We’ve already seen similarities between the costume concept art for Flyby and the final designs for Man of Steel (they both ditched the red-briefs-worn-on-the-outside look), but what other similarities are there between Abrams’ idea of Clark Kent and the version that we’ve seen so far in Man of Steel‘s marketing materials?

jj abrams superman flyby J.J. Abrams Compares His Superman: Flyby Script to Man of Steel

Speaking in an interview with Empire, Abrams described the way that he had envisioned Clark Kent and his transition from alien superchild, to small-town farmboy, and finally into a hero:

“The thing that I tried to emphasise 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 realised 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.”

Directed from a script by The Dark Knight trilogy writers Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer, but translated through Snyder’s heavily stylized vision, the existing Man of Steel movie is rumored to adhere to a certain level of grounding, gritty realism which seems roughly on par with what Abrams had in mind. Both stories endeavor to make the character of Superman – who can be difficult to write due to being virtually indestructible – more empathetic by showing his weaknesses. Early teaser material for Man of Steel showed Superman under arrest and in chains, in a more literal version of Abrams’ psychologically-handcuffed superhero.

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Full Superman Man of Steel Poster 570x844 J.J. Abrams Compares His Superman: Flyby Script to Man of Steel

The idea of Clark running away from his powers has also been hinted at in the Man of Steel trailer, which showed the character living on the outskirts of society as a fisherman and wandering traveller, before finally accepting his destiny and taking up the red cape in order to protect the planet that has become his home.

If you like the sound of Superman: Flyby, you can actually read the full script online, as it was leaked in January and there have been no efforts to take it down. With origin story Man of Steel planned as the beginning of a franchise, however, it’s likely that the film version of Flyby will only ever exist in the imagination of J.J. Abrams.

Man of Steel is out in theaters on June 14, 2013.

Source: Empire

TAGS: superman, superman man of steel

30 Comments

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  1. Didn’t his script also involve an ongoing civil war on a Krypton that hadn’t been destroyed, and Lex Luthor as a UFO nut who was also secretly a Kryptonian? It’s probably for the best that he didn’t get his hands on the Superman franchise.

    • Is that true?

      • I’m about to find out.

        • Not only was Lex secretly Kryptonian, but he was also a CIA agent.

          Also, I was under the impression that Superman’s powers came from his suit, which sort of molded around his body like the Venom symbiote.

    • idk about that but I really wanna read it. Its only 139 pgs.

  2. Specific plot points aside, The analysis of the character of Clark Kent/Superman sounds interesting. I hope Zack Snyder’s version has that kind of character depth. All the best Super Hero movies have been able to question how the characters came to be, within their unique psychology.

  3. I really do not like to hate on most directors but to me (and maybe I’m the only one out there being that most people are on his bandwagon) I am not into JJ Abrams at all. Yes, I’ve seen his “beloved” Star Trek film, sorry I found it boring and fell asleep within 45 minutes into the film. Now with the news of Abrams directing episode seven of Star Wars, I have since been biting my lip, crossing my fingers hoping he doesn’t direct it in the same style and format as Star Trek. I am giving Abrams a CHANCE being that I am an absolute Star Wars fanboy, but if he screws up, ha…

    Indeed, there will be hell to pay.

    • See, I liked Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol but I’m with you, I didn’t like Star Trek at all beyond being a decent time waster (I was never into Trek anyway).

      I can’t say I have as much disdain for Abrams as I do for Bay and Whedon though because those guys have made things that I can’t say I’ve ever liked or enjoyed as much as everyone else seems to while Abrams, I hated Lost but loved Cloverfield (even though he only acted as producer for them).

      • He directed the third Mission:Impossible, while Brad Bird directed Mission:Impossible-Ghost Protocol and only acted as producer.

        I do not know if that is what you meant to say. Do not mean to be rude, just want to help clarify.

        • He also didnt do cloverfield…

        • Oops my fault you said producer only

  4. Isn’t it strange, that after the movie is done and already had the first viewing, suddenly someone claims to have the SAME if not similar script, and it so happen that its suddenly getting leaked when the movie is about to come in theaters. I think this is in preparation of, if the movie becomes a hit and big time grossing machine… someone is prepping for a lawsuit to get the piece of the pie.

    • This script has been online since January, before the public knew much at all about Man of Steel.

    • You didn’t get the bit that the the script was written and ready to go before Superman Returns was made.

  5. I might have to read that one day…

  6. As soon as I’m done here I’m going to read the script. I’d been looking for it every once in a while but could never find it so I gave up.

  7. I really like the direction abrams wanted to go it sounds so interesting to me

    • A friend of mine read Abrams superman script and he said it’s one of the worst thing she’s ever read.

  8. I wonder if this will be out on DVD in time for Christmas?!

  9. Forget about showing his weaknesses, what about his strengths?! How about him blowing up a star that destroys an alien fleet?

    Also Hannah Shaw-Williams, you have an awesome name! Are you from Nebraska? :D

    • Thank you! I’m not from Nebraska, though. Is there a Shaw-Williams clan in Nebraska?

  10. I dont know u guys, so far it sounds like the Superman in FlyBy was a little b****.

  11. Abrams script proves he does not understand nor love the source material for Superman. His script was basically MacBeth. Lex Luthor as a door to door salesman??? Kal-El as a prince. Sorry but his script has no similarities to Nolan and Goyers rip off of Superman Birthright comic mixed in with Goyer yet again stealing from Frank Miller’s Daredevil (child unable to control his super senses).

    • There has been nothing showing clark struggle with his powers… his morality yes

  12. @ Hannah: it’s so nice to see you post a comment! No the Nebraska thing was a very stupid joke that doesn’t make sense at all! Even more so considering I’m British! I imagine you having brown hair and beautiful shiny eyes! :D

  13. “…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 feel like he really nailed Superman in that statement. Yeah, his movie would have been a complete disaster because he failed to grasp every other part of the Superman story, but I feel that he really grasped Superman himself – psychologically speaking.

  14. The characterization was good, the middle third of the script is good, the civil war on Krypton, the prophecy and the return to Krypton at the end is where it all goes awry…

    Im sure we will see elements of this in Man of Steel, just like elements made it into Superman Returns as well as Star Trek and Mission: Impossible 3.

  15. my beef with superman films are the origin parts. Everyone knows what happened, everyone knows about clark kent and smallville and the history of how he progressively got his powers. I wanna see superman unleashed. I wanna see the upper end of his powers. be a man and open a can. hopefully with zod we might see a bit of that.

  16. Yeah, but not every Superman story is the same, so for this imagination of the character, being a reboot, makes an origin story necessary. You can’t say you know the origin story of this Superman because it hasnt been told yet. Sure there will be similar elements from canon, but there will also be departures that will lead to Snyder’s distinct characterization of Supes. So I am all for an origin here, more background makes for better story IMO.

  17. looks like abrams need to read the birthright or the the last days of krypton, i hate the idea about luthor was a kryptonian it is not original! geh, duh!

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