Superman Reboot Script Partially Inspired by ‘Secret Origin’ Comic?

Published 4 years ago by , Updated August 9th, 2013 at 12:47 am,

Director Zack Snyder made a name for himself by helming extremely literal film adaptations of the comic books 300 and Watchmen. He’ll evidently be taking a departure from that approach with his upcoming Superman reboot, Man of Steel. Although Snyder has previously insisted that the film will not be based on any specific comic or graphic novel, it would probably be impossible for screenwriter (and bona fide comic book geek) David S. Goyer not to at least draw inspiration from them.

Before producer Christopher Nolan departed Man of Steel to focus his attention on The Dark Knight Rises, he frequently mentioned that it was Goyer’s unique approach to the material that had attracted him to the project. But when dealing with a mythology as universally well-known as Superman’s, how exactly did Goyer tackle the challenge of delivering a contemporary and compelling take on a character?

A member of the Comic Book Movie community has offered some insight on the matter.  He got his hands on a Collected Edition of the Superman: Secret Origin miniseries that debuted last week and noticed that it includes a foreword by Goyer. There’s one portion of it in particular that fans will likely be very interested in. Goyer expresses his admiration for Secret Origin‘s author Geoff Johns (Green Lantern) and reveals what an impact this series’ version of Clark Kent had on him:

There is a heart breaking moment halfway through the first chapter in which young Clark is told the truth about his heritage. He races out into the night, sobbing, stumbling through the cornfields. Eventually, his foster father, Jonathan, finds him.

“I don’t want to be someone else,” says Clark. “I don’t want to be different. I want to be Clark Kent.”

[And here's the kicker...]

“I want to be your son”

Right there in that moment, Geoff contextualized Superman in a way that I’m not sure has ever really been done before. I had an ‘aha’ experience when I read that. For the first time I was able to grasp how lonely Clark must have been when he was growing up. And what a sacrifice Clark must continually make by being Superman.

He goes on to state rather explicitly that this revised take on Superman greatly informed his script for Man of Steel:

As I write this, I am midway through my first draft of a new Superman screenplay. It’s a task that has stymied many talented fimmakers in the years since Donner’s film. And for all I know, it will end up stymying me as well.

But I’ve got one advantage that the screenwriters who came before me didn’t have– and that’s access to all the wonderful Superman stories written by Geoff Johns– first and foremost being the SECRET ORIGIN issues reprinted in the very volume you are now holding.

superman secret origin Superman Reboot Script Partially Inspired by Secret Origin Comic?

A previous rumor suggested that the film will begin with Clark in West Africa and that immediately reminded me of the Superman: Birthright series (another recent take on the early days of Superman that Secret Origin actually retconned upon its release). There are elements of both series I enjoy considerably and it’s exciting to get a sense of the direction Goyer is taking the story in. It sounds like there’s a bit of Birthright‘s first arc mixed in with The Boy of Steel chapter from Secret Origin – and if you ask me, that’s not a bad foundation to build on.

I think Goyer is a pretty hit-or-miss writer who has intriguing ideas that often get a rather lackluster execution. However, it’s encouraging that he seems to be picking and choosing the aspects of Superman’s story that really resonate with him from a multitude of comics.

I know this might not be as exciting as learning who the villain will be or who’s going to play Superman, but I believe that the characterization of Clark Kent speaks volumes about what we can expect from this film.

Superman: Man of Steel is scheduled to hit theaters in December 2012.

Source: Comic Book Movie.

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  1. After ten years of Smallville this movie will fail. Wish they would of just did a sequal to SR instead. At least i have GL, Thor, TDKR to watch. Still unsure about Captain America though.

    • Yeah, enough already with the origin crap.

  2. Hmmmm.

    This is the first piece of news about this movie that gives me any kind of confidence, I still think it will blow butt chunks, however, Geoff Johns Sueprman Secret origin is one of the best Superman stories for a long time. It keeps the original mythology intact but somehow manages to feel fresh.

    If the film were based on that completely then I would be happy. But it isn’t.

    • I think I feel the same way…

  3. He should be able use the failings of the Superman Returns to learn from hopefully. He’s got plenty of good pieces of mythos and prior films to to use, let’s hope he doesnt get lazy or the execs meddle with it much.

  4. WOW!! An origin story of Superman…what an original idea…a fresh take on the origin…well to me that’s okay for a 3 dollar comic book but for a 150+ million production it is boring…If this Superman movie fails to amaze I think the franchise will be dead for sometime…they have been slowly killing it since Superman 3 anyway…

    • Well, you are right about that sadly. If this one sucks like the last one, it’s over with for a long long LOOOOONG time. Of course that wont stop hollywood from stupidly trying to reboot it yet again in two years but I’d bet movie goers wont take to it with any interest.

  5. The story sounds good to me. Never read Secret Origins but maybe I’ll look into it.

    At least it still based on a Superman comics, not an entire new story.

    But still, I think Snyder will do a better job if he just adapt straight from the comic.

  6. To be fair, I’m not getting the impression that this is going to be a blow by blow of all the major events we’ve seen depicted endlessly (the spaceship crashing, being raised by the Kents, discovering his powers, etc.)

    It sounds like this might start with Clark having already left Smallville sometime ago and wrestling with the decision to actually become Superman. We might be in for a flashback or two but I’m optimistic that this isn’t going to be another linear origin story.

    I think focusing on this specific moment in the story has a lot to do with introducing a new version of Superman to the audience and severing all ties with previous films.

    I don’t know if I have the patience to sit through the same story again either. I guess time will tell whether or not it’s as unique an approach as they claim.

    The other thing is, it’s often not so much about the basics of the plot itself as it is the voice of the storyteller.

    • This is very much true… this approach to the origin is not to simply show us the story from the beginning so much as it gives us a glimpse into the mind of Clark Kent.
      I especially like that his humanity is not simply shown through his love of humans and Lois in general, but gets to a deeper connection he has with our race.

  7. They really should just keep the title “The Man of Steel” simple as that.

  8. Or just call it “Smallville the Sequal”

    • More like Smallville: the reboot

  9. Chris Shrader…
    You make a good point. They should make it flashbacks….that would allow certain things to be passed over and just show the significant moments in Clark “becoming” superman. I know I have alot of opposition, but I feel Welling could definitely do the job…Either way, if he is cast or not, they could open the film with Clark standing over the Superman suit and thinking back to all of the significant events that lead up to that moment….just my opinion….

    • Wow that sounds like it would be pretty decent and at the end have him put it on.

  10. I was not as disheartened by various rumors and bits of news as some others, so THIS possibility actually raises my hopes for success even more. I think we may be pleasantly surprised by the results and am looking forward to the film.

  11. I also don’t want to kick a dead horse…or something like that….but I just looked up the plot for the Superman:secret origin story….and it sounds very similar to the Smallville series. Clark knows lex as a child and are briefly friends and then enemies, he saves Lionel luthor when he drives off a bridge (in smallville Clark saves Lex instead), Clark saves Lana who is sucked up in a tornado and finds out he can fly (in smallville Clark saves Lana who was sucked up in tornado and says “i felt like I was flying”) and actually all of these epsiodes of smallville came out first….and in addition in secret origin Clark kisses Lana and it sets off his heat vision…in smallville Clark first sets off his heat vision while looking at a attractive substitute teacher…..Alot of similarities and I would not doubt if they continue the Smallville series onto the big screen at this point……it could work with this plot.

    • Geoff Johns has already said his Secret Origin story is very similar to Smallville, as he writes for the show it was hardly accidental, he was just using inspiration from an already existing continuity. Superman can only original to a point without destroying the mythos.
      Also, Chloe Sulivan is mentioned in Secret Origin, and her character doesn’t exist in the DC universe.

    • I am already bored with this knowing its another damned super hero origin film..was hoping they would had gone further with something more interesting ,this will just be a bore if anything..if i need small-ville i would watch it at home on t.v.

  12. Anything Geoff Johns has made that is being put into a film, I will definitely watch. When I first read Birthright, I thought if Nolan ever made a Superman film then this book would be it. Since both are apparently being used, I will see this for show.

  13. ….IN addition in secret origin Clark meets cosmis boy, saturn girl and a legion of superheroes when he is “superboy” just like on Smallville and clark is “the blur” or “red-blue blur” and he meets the same characters………Brainiac intervenes and shows clark his future and how he needs to make decisions now to effect his future and the same happens on Smallville….and clark gets the ring to communicate with the legionaires (cosmic boy…so on) from the future…again, just like on smallville….Sorry to say, but it seems obvious to me that Goyer and Nolan are molding the plot in a way that Welling can continue as the same character from Smallville series

    • Old post and a lot may be similar to Smallville but the Clark friends then enemies with Lex as kids was integral to the Silver Age incarnation of Superboy/ man, as is the Legion of Super-Heroes.

  14. So what does this all mean? Does anyone feel that this is being done so that welling and possibly part of the smallville cast will transition to the movie? or just a similar story with completely new cast?…..give me your opinions…

    • I think that only partial points that are being taken from the John’s series and to an extent Smallville to enhance the story. Since the film is about Superman dealing with the choice of being Superman then the stuff that highlights his dark and light times in his past is the what I think they’re trying to do.

      I may be off, but that’s my assessment on the topic.

      • If they take that angle, then I guess anyone could be cast as clark/superman….however, if they go deeper into the ‘secret origins’ plot and show Clark knowing lex as a child and other “smallville:series” similiarites, then I think if they don’t use Welling it wouldn’t make sense and even be a kick in the face for Welling and his fans….

        • scottgia
          mabey you should write the screenplay and send it to the big nuts at WB

          • is that sarcasm? If not, thanks

        • So my question would be this If they Use Welling , then what are they going to do use clips from smallville to do the flash backs, NO NO NO, that would be stupid, nor would it be original or good , listen i m a big fan of Smallville and Welling however, if they use him as Big Blue, then the story has to be different, it has to be so different that it does not blend with the series. That is why Routh has a better shot the Welling, Dont get me wrong Welling is this Generations Supes, Hands Down, but WB is not stupid and will not allow this movie be related to anything that came before simply because of what happened with Returns.
          Personally Superman :Earth-one should be the model they should be using for this new movie, It is a great modernized vision of the Character, Im pretty sure most of you havent read it, But you should check it out if your a fan of Big Blue

    • Welling will never play the big screen version of Superman. It just wont happen.

      • I don’t know….all things point to Welling. Smallville ending at the same time production for the movie begins, shooting in vancouver where the smallville set is located, now the “secret origins” plot which is all too familiar to smallville. And to give my opinion on if they will use flashbacks from Smallville series if they go this route…of course they wont…they will have to shoot all new scenes if this does happen. I also feel if they use Welling, they probably wont use the whole smallville cast….But, as far as Welling is concerned, I really can’t see anyone else being used at this point…or maybe it’s just wishful thinking on my part…

  15. i cant see the full comments its like the box is cut in half?

    • Looks fine to me. What browser/version are you using?


  16. I am assuming the author of this article has never seen Smallville. Smallville approaches Superman/Clark Kent in the first season as someone who just wants to be the son of the Kents and not super. This is not a new spin on Superman. I am intrested in reading more on the making of this movie but so far I am not impressed. Give me more :)

    • I’ve seen Smallville. I’m only describing the context of the quotes given by Goyer and Nolan. I think a more appropriate statement might be that perhaps they’ve never seen Smallville. And you know what? Neither have the majority of the people going to see a new Superman movie. Smallville’s fan base might be extremely passionate, but they make up a fraction of moviegoers. Just because you’ve seen a similar approach played out on TV doesn’t mean it won’t feel fresh to people whose experience with the character doesn’t go beyond the previous movies or a few comic books. You’re absolutely right, btw. This is just something to consider.

      • Chris….I actually feel that there is a larger fan base for smallville than people think. They have been getting about 2.5-2.75 million viewers this season…but that doesn’t take into consideration the people that watch it every once in a while. Meaning there may be 2 million regular viewers and another 1-2 “once in a while viewers” but they average 2.5-2.75 weekly. If a movie comes out I believe there would b more like 3.5-4 million smallville viewers going to the movie…I also feel being that Johns has written for smallville then Goyer has probably watched it before and knows the similarites b/w smallville and “secret origin”….IMO

      • In reality about the same number of people went to see Superman Returns as has seen a good chunk of Smallville. People make the mistake of thinking of movies in terms of gross dollars and tv shows in terms of live viewers. Break those movie grosses down to tickets sold and viewers and you get about 20 million viewers for SR, not including people who saw the movie more than once. Smallville live viewers in the US hit about 10 million early on. As seasons progressed, some viewers dropped out, but new viewers dropped in. Some viewers just buy the season sets without ever watching the show live. (Every season of Smallville has been in the top ten of season sets sold for the year.) All told Smallville easily has had more than 20 million people watch some episodes. (I make no judgment on if they were enchanted with it or not). So the fact is about the same number of people saw both Superman Returns and Smallville. To think the general public isn’t going to compare an origin to Smallville is silly. They might like it better. They might think it’s worse. They might be bored with the whole premise. But they will be comparing an angsty-Clark origin to Smallville.

        • And I take issue with the delusion that the general public has any familiarity with the comic books. Almost NOBODY’S experience with the character comes from comic books. The best selling comic books rarely breach 90,000 copies sold. Fanboys are completely out of touch with reality on this topic. 90,000 fanboys can be very noisy on the internet and seem very big, but they aren’t even the size of a pimple on the butt of the general audience.

          • Actually, it’s funny – my daughter (being my daughter) is very familiar with the superhero genre. But recently in a little fun class quiz (she’s in 10th grade) NO other kids in the class knew that Clark’s real name is Kal-El and that Supergirl is his cousin.

            True story.


        • More like 7 million instead of 10, but I get your points :)

  17. While I don’t know if I want to see Secret Origin as a movie, I loved the “world” Johns created in it. If Goyers has taken the Superman from that book, with his personality and outlook, I think this movie will be great.

  18. Goyer is a great writer, so I’m sure this will be good.

  19. Goyer without the Nolans is risky

    • I’m pretty sure that after it was announced that Nolan was no longer associated with the reboot… it was then announced that he would still stay on as a consultant and as an assistant producer type role…..Anyone heard this too? Vic?

  20. i think a film based of the red son graphic novel would be far better to watch on screen!! and the ending!! wow… would be amazing to see that on screen.

  21. I agree with most that they shouldn’t dwell on the origin story, it should ride on the confidence that people already have that knowledge,

    Is it me or are we saying “just get on with his story” instead we are still stuck at the 1st base

    I like smallville in terms of the growth of The character but are we really gonna sit through more hours of his pondering and doubt?!?

    • I hope not…but it is an intersting approach to the origin side of the story…but like you said I hope they cut to the chase and Clark becomes superman before the end of the movie so we can see some real fight scenes and more action. Also, I don’t think they would have brought on Zack Snyder if they did not have a plan to add more action than Supe returns…

  22. After Snyder said this movie isn’t gonna be based on any story in particular to me which is impossible, that Goyer said it’s based on secret origin, how does Snyder even feel about this?

    • Goyer is probably just taking ideas from ‘Secret Origin’, like when TDK took ideas from the Long Halloween, but wasn’t entirely based on it.

  23. hmmm interstin

  24. decent article

  25. I have complete faith in Snyder. He has a wonderful visual sense and his action is exciting. HOWEVER. This movie can be one of two things. It will either be relentless action mayhem of the Matrix and Transformers variety that blows audiences away with spectacle. Or it can be an origin that focuses on Clark Kent and his doubts and sacrifices to be Superman. In which case they might as well rename it SMALLVILLE: THE MOVIE. Unlike some haters, I’m sure Snyder can tell the Smallville / Clark Kent story with sensitivity, and do it justice. But it will be perceived as a kind of Smallville reboot. There is just no getting around that.

    Comic book fanboys and website writers try to dance around that by comparing the plot to various comic book runs, but at most a few thousand people will have read those runs and understand the reference. On the other hand, several million people have seen a few episodes of Smallville. The natural instinct is to compare the plot to Smallville, which they know of, and not certain comic book issues which they haven’t read. A Clark-heavy origin in which he is struggling with the decision to be Superman won’t be compared to (insert favorite comic book origin here). The public will say it’s Smallville and you can’t blame the public for that.

  26. Goyer’s scripts are terrible. But he keeps getting work. Why is that? Must be the nepotism I hear about so rabid in Tinsel Town.

    Snyder = Guardian = Crap

    • First of all, you need to go back to second grade math; a + b = c, not a = b = c. Second, Snyder has proven he can translate key moments from comic page to big screen. Notice I said key moments instead of literal translations. Why are his scripts terrible? Why shouldn’t he keep working?

      Insightful question + solid observation = engaging query.

      You failed

  27. I have watched Smallville since the JSA story was introduced, and have enjoyed Welling play Supes, although I think we’d all agree that he needs to fly SOON before we all reach into the TV to smack him and the studio around.

    I too am sick with reboots – why do these studios think that’s what we want? What most of us want is a series that stretches beyond the Lucas-inspried trilogy arc, into a realm where any number of sequels are generated which brings the comics to the big screen. Why does the Superman story (or any hero story for that matter) have to feature ‘inspired’ stories rather than the ACTUAL stories, the meat of which are what lured fans in the first place? It seems to me that the studio should have a long-range plan to bring as many of these classic arcs into development as possible, with writers and directors lined up for the next 10 years, to slowly churn out these stories. Who cares if Welling or Routh are synonymously linked to Big Blue for their careers? They could do a lot worse, and last I checked Routh wasn’t working. But perhaps this is what the studio has already done, and we’re on the edge of our own Silver Age….

    …or maybe monkeys will fly out of my butt…

  28. @ Soundtrackwhore (nice name by the way)……I agree. EVeryone is worried that casting Welling will confuse the viewing public…or casting Routh will say that the reboot is associated with Superman returns….How about REBOOTING in general confuses the viewing public….???? My wife, not a big action movie fan but humors me and watches alot of the movies I like, asked me the other day about “HULK” and “incredibile Hulk”….supposedly unassociated with one another….she asked why Ed Norton was Banner in the second one….I explained that it was a reboot and not a continuation….This is always going to happen with the general viewing public….maybe not with people like you or me who know better…but I kind of feel we are in the minority. Most peope who go to see the new superman:man of steel may ask “hey, what happened to that other guy (routh)”……or “hey, isn’t this the guy from smallville (welling)”… i think instead of trying to make sure there is not an association with previous films, they need to instead pick the best actor for the role…because it is unavoidable that people are going to be alittle confused when everyone and everything keeps getting the “reboot” treatment….

  29. I think the Superman Reboot will have to start with the heritage of Superman’s home planet Krypton where came from ? When he was growing up ? He was Kal-El during the time, when his father and mother sent on a rocket ship to earth. The whole origin of Clark Kent growing up was like a Flashback scene How Clark gained Supernatural Powers from the Yellow Sun. He starts to fly over the barns of Smallville, and chase Tornadoes