Bryan Singer’s SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL – a new story treatment reveals what could have been

Published December 13, 2010

If you’ve been here before, you may have read a previous post entitled A TALE OF II SUPERMANS, where I waxed Kryptonian on my affection for the red-caped, spit-curled dude in blue, and offered a detailed analysis of the Richard Donner cut of Superman II.

In 2006, when Bryan Singer gave us Superman Returns, I was pretty darn happy to see such a touching homage to Donner’s mythology … even if overfamiliarity was also one of that film’s weaknesses (it sure did breed contempt in some).  Why NOT have that crystalline Fortress of Solitude with Marlon Brando chilling inside?  Why NOT use John Williams’ iconic score?  Why NOT use an actor, Brandon Routh, who reminds us so much of Chris Reeve?  I thought all those things worked brilliantly.

Critics of Superman Returns have mostly complained that the film felt like more of a remake than a sequel; that there was only ONE kick ass action scene – the rescue of the plane; that Kate Bosworth’s Lois Lane wasn’t feisty enough; that Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) had another real estate scheme (really? seriously?); a climax which has our hero (orchestra swells) … lifting a rock; and that the inclusion of Lois’ and Supe’s little superdude Jason was a very bad idea – where do you go with that?  Warner Bros. must have thought “nowhere,” because despite making damn near $400 million worldwide, that just wasn’t quite enough to let Singer have a go at the sequel.

Cut to 2010.  In order to beat a court ruling that returns much of the rights of Superman back to the Siegel and Schuster families (heirs of Superman’s creators) unless a film is released by 2012, Warner Bros. fast tracked a non-Singer sequel.  With a story by Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan, and David S. Goyer, the creative team behind cinematic juggernauts Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL will be coming to theaters in December 2012.  Nolans will produce, Goyer will script, and Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) will direct.  Can’t wait.

But what of THE MAN OF STEEL that Singer had planned?

Routh and Bosworth

IESB recently posted an article which included a rough story treatment of what might have been Singer’s sequel.  One which actually sounds pretty damn cool.  It includes elements that directly remedy some of those aforementioned criticisms.  Also, that previous question: Where do you go with the story of Jason the super kid?  This synopsis answers that.  Boy does it ever.

The original article can be found here.  Though no source is given, this sounds pretty legit  … or maybe I’m just geeking out at the possibilities.

Check it out.


[The Man of Steel starts] just a few years after the incidents that we saw in Superman Returns.  Kal-El is doing what Superman does best, Lois Lane is raising her kid Jason, who of course is Superman’s child, and the world is getting use to having Superman back.

Now there are storyline threads that go back to Superman Returns, one is the ongoing plot of Superman’s original reason of going back to Krypton. He has always wondered if he truly is the last Son of Krypton.

Remember New Krypton that Lex created with crystals he stole from the Fortress of Solitude and Kryptonite that Supes launched into space that nearly killed him?  New Krypton continues to grow in space and has become an almost perfect sphere.  It is now the size of a small moon.

Besides giving humans something to admire at night, Earth’s new satellite has also brought some unexpected attention from a galaxy far, far away.

A massive spaceship arrives Earth’s orbit.  Superman flies up to meet the spacecraft and we are introduced to our out of this world visitor.

Superman quickly finds out that our visitor is also a Kryptonian survivor who has been traveling the known galaxies and was able to detect Kryptonian technology thanks to our new green/black satellite that has started to orbit the Earth.

Superman finally has found a Kryptonian buddy and starts showing him around the planet – a planet full of problems, disease, famine, crime, and nations at war with each other.

Our new Kryptonian friend asks Superman why, with all his power, is he not changing the world for the better?  Why is he not getting rid of famine, disease and war?  Of course fans know that Superman has always been instructed not to interfere with Earth’s development.

Superman explains that he is not allowed to interfere, but his Krypto buddy tells him that with their powers they are required to “interfere.”  Superman disagrees.

Krypto buddy decides to take charge and starts “interfering” from day one.  One of the first things that he does is get involved in a political mess that is heating up between two third world nations.

War breaks out between these two nations, but before any real battle breaks out, Krypto buddy interferes and lays waste to these two Armies.

He declares to the world that he will not allow anymore wars and/or the destruction of our planet.  He is declaring a “War Free” planet and for those who disagree he will have to deal with them.

The major nations of the planet applaud his actions and all agree to an immediate worldwide peace.  In return he promises to share technology, fight hunger, famine, and disease.

The population of the world rejoices and any small pockets of resistance is quickly squashed by Krypto buddy or even the world governments.

Superman has now become a pariah.  The way the world sees it, he has been here for years and had kept technology that could have solved many of the worlds problems.

Superman starts getting a bit suspicious of Krypto buddy and decides to go talk to him.  He goes to his spaceship and has a revelation.  This massive ship is full of thousands of identical bodies aboard.  Yep, clones of Krypto buddy, in stasis.

So Superman digs a bit more inside the “computer” system [and] finds out that Krypto buddy is actually an artificial intelligence from Krypton that has evolved since the destruction of their world.

He escaped Krypton just like Kal-El did and his real name is Brainiac.  He has been going from planet to planet, taking their technology, helping these worlds reach a relative perfection and then he destroys them and moves on.

Superman also finds out that [Brainiac] was actually responsible for the destruction of Krypton and tries to warn the leaders of the world, but is confronted by Braniac.  A massive battle ensues and Superman is about to defeat his foe, but Brainiac downloads his [consciousness] into one of his clones.

Superman realizes that he must destroy this massive ship along with all the clones aboard.  After another massive battle he is able to disable the ship, destroy the clones, and the new Braniac, but right before the ship is destroyed, the Braniac main frame does a local search for another body that he could download into.  It has to be Kryptonian, and he finds another one on Earth: Superman’s kid, Jason White.

So Brainiac uses Kryptonian technology and beams/downloads itself into Jason’s body and this causes causes him to age and grow into a full adult but with Brainiac in complete control.

Superman realizes what just happened and rushes to confront his very own son who is now possessed by Brainiac.

Is Jason still there or is it all Brainiac?  It’s all Braniac and Superman knows what he has to do: he must defeat Brainiac at all costs or the planet and it’s inhabitants will be doomed.

It’s a battle between two gods, but Superman has already been run ragged and beat down pretty bad in his previous battles of the day.  Brainiac has the upper hand and Superman is trying to not to do any permanent damage to Jason’s body.

Will Jason survive? The answer in no.

There is a Christ like metaphor here.  Superman has to sacrifice his own son to save humanity.

There endeth the “rough story treatment.”

What say you?  Is this for real … or just the viral product of an imaginative fanboy?

Would this have been a good place for Superman Returns to graduate to?

Sound off below.