6 Superman Movies that Didn't Get Made

By Scott Meslow

In case you've somehow missed the relentless onslaught of commercial spots and promotional tie-ins, Man of Steel—Zack Snyder's massive reboot of the Superman franchise, which stars Henry Cavill—hit theaters last weekend. But for every Superman movie that has hit theaters since the heyday of the Christopher Reeve-starring films, a number of other directors have made failed attempts to get the Man of Steel off the ground and back onto the big screen. Over the past two decades, what are the stories behind the strange, fascinating (and occasionally terrible) Superman movies that didn't get made? Here's a guide.

1. Superman V (1991)

Though both 1978's Superman and 1980's Superman II are widely acknowledged to be classics, the Christopher Reeve-starring films petered out at the end with the disappointing Superman III and the truly awful Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. According to comic book writer Cary Bates — who pitched a concept for a fifth Superman movie in 1991 that he says was almost greenlit — the franchise could have been saved by his script for Superman V. He says it was designed "to leapfrog over Superman III and especially IV, and return the series to the high mark achieved in 1 and 2."

The plan was "to do a fully developed, balls-out science fiction story pitting Superman and Brainiac against each other mano a mano," Bates continues at Newsarama. In Superman V, the extraterrestrial android would have arrived on Earth to shrink Metropolis and put it into a bottle as part of a larger collection of miniature cities. Then Brainiac would discover that Superman was in the tiny city, and he would have shrunken himself down to battle the Man of Steel, resulting in a brutal fight that would have left Superman dead years before a similar storyline appeared in the comics. Ultimately, Superman would have been reborn in Kandor — the capital of his home planet Krypton, which Brainiac kept in another bottle. After reconnecting with his roots, Superman would have escaped to resume his battle with the supervillain.

So what happened? According to Bates, producers Ilya and Alexander Salkind — who held the rights to the character at the time — put Superman V on hold to focus on their other project,Christopher Columbus: The Discovery. By the time they were ready to produce the superhero project, Warners Bros. had announced the TV show, Lois & Clark, which killed any other Superman projects in development. In retrospect, Bates thinks it was for the best: Given the rudimentary state of CGI at the time, his screenplay "was probably too ambitious and ahead of its time, given the modest projected budget." Any fans who are still curious can read an original draft of Bates' script at the Superman Homepage.

2. Superman Reborn (1993)

Producer Jon Peters, who made a splash with Batman in 1989, had his own plan to revive the Superman franchise in a post-Reeve era. Once the rights to Superman were reacquired by Warner Bros., Peters hired screenwriter Jonathan Lemkin to write a reboot of the franchise that owed a heavy debt to 1992's massively successful comic book story The Death of Superman. In Lemkin's Superman Reborn, the Man of Steel would have squared off against a vicious intergalactic killer called Doomsday, with both characters dying at the end of the battle. In his dying breath, Superman would have confessed his love for Lois Lane, which would somehow have rendered her pregnant with a superbaby. For reasons, once again, that went largely unexplained, the baby would have grown into adulthood in a matter of weeks, taking over for his father as Superman.

Warner Bros. rejected the (utterly crazy) first draft of the Superman Reborn script, hiring screenwriter Gregory Poirier to do an extended rewrite. Poirier's script added several new villains, including Brainiac, Silver Banshee, and Parasite — and though it still featured the death of Superman, it skipped the magic pregnancy/superbaby angle in favor of a government project that would have revived Superman. But Kevin Smith, who had his own ideas for the franchise, hated Poirier's script, and pitched his own concept for the reboot.

3. Superman Lives (1997)

So what was Kevin Smith's concept for Superman? The script, which he called Superman Lives, also featured Brainiac as a villain, and included the death and resurrection of Superman in its storyline. Unfortunately, the similarities ended there. In an extended monologue at a fan event, Smith revealed that there were a number of absolutely insane parameters placed on his screenplay by producer Jon Peters.

According to Smith, in his first meeting with Peters, the producer explained that he envisioned Sean Penn as Superman because he wanted the hero to come across as "a violent, caged animal — a f--king killer." Peters also laid down three rules for the script: Superman couldn't wear his familiar red-and-blue costume, Superman couldn't fly, and Superman had to fight a giant spider in the story's third act. After reading Smith's first draft, Peters asked Smith to add "a gay R2-D2" as a sidekick for Brainiac, and a character resembling Chewbacca, in order to capitalize on the success of the then-recent Star Wars re-releases.

Eventually, Batman director Tim Burton signed on to direct Superman Lives, with Nicolas Cage attached to play Superman. Burton had Smith's script thrown out in favor of a new script by writers that he'd personally chosen. Though locations were scouted and Cage did a costume test, the production was repeatedly delayed due to various creative and production problems. Burton left the project in 1998, and Cage left the project in 2000.

4. Batman vs. Superman (2002)

After various writers and directors tried and failed to get the next Superman film into production, one script stood out: Batman vs. Superman, from a script by Andrew Kevin WalkerIn a 2002 interview with Variety, director Wolfgang Petersen expressed his enthusiasm for the project: "It is a clash of the titans. They play off of each other so perfectly. [Superman] is clear, bright, all that is noble and good, and Batman represents the dark, obsessive and vengeful side. They are two sides of the same coin and that is material for great drama." He also predicted that the entire genre would be permanently altered by 9/11.

In the film, a retired Bruce Wayne's wife would have been murdered at their wedding, by the Joker, prompting Wayne to seek revenge and uncover a complex plot that involved Lex Luthor. Batman would then turn against his former best friend Superman before they teamed up once again to take Luthor down. Petersen had originally suggested that Matt Damon was the kind of actor he was looking for, though it's unclear if he meant Damon would play Batman or Superman. Reports indicate that the long list of favorites for either of the two starring roles included Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, James Franco, Jude Law, and Paul Walker.

5. Superman: Flyby (2002)

In the end, Warner Bros. decided to shelve Batman vs. Superman in favor of a competing script that focused solely on the Man of Steel: Superman: Flyby, by J.J. Abrams. (The Batman franchise, which went through its own extended development cycle, eventually reemerged with Batman Begins in 2005.) Superman: Flyby was a full reboot of the franchise centered on the far-reaching effects of a Kryptonian civil war — between Superman's father Jor-El and his uncle Kata-Zor — which eventually extended to Earth. Once again, Superman dies and is resurrected, and the story ends with Superman leaving Earth to go back to Krypton, setting up a sequel.

Over its troubled development process, many, many actors were discussed as possible stars for Superman: Flyby, including Josh Hartnett, Jude Law, Paul Walker, Ashton Kutcher, James Marsden, and Brendan Fraser. After months of false starts, director Brett Ratner dropped out of the project and was replaced by McG, who dropped out when Warner Bros. insisted on shooting in Australia to save money. (Ironically enough, he later conceded that he'd been afraid of flying.) Though Abrams volunteered to direct, Warner Bros. hired Bryan Singer, who finally delivered an actual Superman movie in 2006: The Brandon Routh-starring Superman Returns.

6. Untitled Superman Returns sequel (2006)

Unfortunately for all involved, Warner Bros. was underwhelmed by the reaction to Superman Returns. (Though, perhaps it was an understandable response from the studio, given the movie's decade-plus development cycle.) The studio decided to go in a new direction with the franchise, but a sequel to Superman Returns was already in the early stages of development.According to a 2010 interview with screenwriter Michael Dougherty, the film would have introduced other Kryptonians, though he wouldn't say whether they would be villains. He also hinted that Brainiac might have made an appearance. And while he noted that Snyder's Man of Steel (in pre-production at the time of the interview) would be another reboot, he thought there was a decent chance that Brandon Routh would star again. (Sorry, Brandon.)

And here we are, more than two decades after Reeve's Superman took flight, as Man of Steel hits theaters. Will it be the smash-hit Superman film that screenwriters and directors have been trying to create for so long, or does Superman have yet another reboot in his future?

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8 Allegedly Cursed Places

Some of the most picturesque spots in the world hide legends of a curse. Castles, islands, rivers, and more have supposedly suffered spooky misfortunes as the result of a muttered hex cast after a perceived slight—whether it's by a maligned monk or a mischievous pirate. Below are eight such (allegedly) unfortunate locations.


An 800-year-old ruined wall stands on the grounds of a large steelworks in Port Talbot, Wales. The wall is surrounded by a fence and held up by a number of brick buttresses—all because of an ancient curse. The story goes that when King Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in the 16th century, one of the local Cistercian monks evicted from Margam Abbey told the new owners of the site, in a bid to protect it, that if the wall fell, the entire town would fall with it (it's unclear why he would focus on that particular part of the structure). Since then, the townsfolk have tried hard to protect the wall, even as an enormous steelworks was built around it. Rumors abound that the hex-giving monk still haunts the site in a red habit, keeping an eye on his precious wall.


Alloa tower in Scotland
HARTLEPOOLMARINA2014, Wikimedia // CC BY-SA 4.0

Alloa Tower in Clackmannanshire, Scotland, has reportedly been subject to a curse for hundreds of years. In the 16th century, the Earl of Mar is said to have destroyed the local Cambuskenneth Abbey and taken the stones to build his new palace. The Abbot of Cambuskenneth was so furious he supposedly cast a multi-part curse on the Erskine family—ominously known as “The Doom of Mar." It is said that at least part of the curse has come true over the years, including that three of the children of the Mar family would “never see the light” (three of the earl’s ancestors’ offspring were reportedly born blind). The curse also supposedly predicted that the house would burn down, which occurred in 1800. Another part of the curse: The house would lay in ruins until an ash sapling grew from its roof. Sure enough, around 1820 a sapling was seen sprouting from the roof, and since then the family curse is said to have been lifted.


In the fall of 2017, archeologists reopened an almost-4500-year-old tomb complex in Giza, Egypt, that contains the remains of hundreds of workers who built the great Pyramid of Giza. The tomb also contains the remains of the supervisor of the workers, who is believed to have added curses to the cemetery to protect it from thieves. One such curse reads: "All people who enter this tomb who will make evil against this tomb and destroy it, may the crocodile be against them in water and snakes against them on land. May the hippopotamus be against them in water, the scorpion against them on land." The complex is now open to the public—who may or may not want to take their chances.


A chateau just north of the French Riviera may sound like a delightful place to be, but amid the ruins of the Chateau de Rocca-Sparviera—the Castle of the Sparrow-Hawk—lies a disturbing legend. The tale centers around a medieval French queen named Jeanne, who supposedly fled to the castle after her husband was killed. She arrived with two young sons and a monk known to enjoy his drink. One Christmas, she went into the village to hear a midnight mass, and when she returned, she found that the monk had killed her sons in a drunken rage. (In another version of the story, she was served a banquet of her own children, which she unknowingly ate.) According to legend, Jeanne then cursed the castle, saying a bird would never sing nearby. To this day, some travelers report that the ruins are surrounded by an eerie silence.


Stopped off at a small uninhabited island that, according to Thai mythology, is cursed by the god Tarutao. If anyone dared to even take one pebble off this island they would be forever cursed! 😈 I heard from a local that every year the National Park office receive many stones back via mail from people who want to lift the curse! I was never much of a stone collector anyway... ☻☹☻☹☻ #thailand #kohlanta #kohlipe #kohhingham #islandhopping #islandlife #beachlife #pebbles #beach #speedboat #travelgram #instatraveling #wanderlust #exploringtheglobe #exploretocreate #traveleverywhere #aroundtheworld #exploringtheglobe #travelawesome #wanderer #earth_escape #natgeotravel #serialtraveler #awesomesauce #picoftheday #photooftheday #potd

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The tiny uninhabited island of Koh Hingham, off the coast of Thailand, is blessed with a covering of precious black stones. The stones are not precious because they contain anything valuable in a monetary sense, but because according to Thai mythology the god Tarutao made them so. Tarutao is said to have invoked a curse upon anyone who takes a stone off the island. As a result, every year the national park office that manages the island receives packages from all over the world, sent by tourists returning the stones and attempting to rid themselves of bad luck.


The "cursed" PH stones of St. Andrews University
Nuwandalice, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The initials PH are paved into the ground outside St. Salvator’s Chapel at St. Andrews University in Scotland. They mark the spot where 24-year-old preacher and faculty member Patrick Hamilton was burned at the stake for heresy in 1528—an early trigger of the Scottish Reformation. The location is therefore supposed to be cursed, and it is said that any student who stands on the initials is doomed to fail their exams. As a result of this superstition, after graduation day many students purposefully go back to stand on the spot now that all danger of failure has passed.


Charles Island, Connecticut
Michael Shaheen, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Charles Island lies off the coast of Milford, Connecticut, and is accessible from the mainland via a sandbar when the tide is low. Today it's home to a peaceful nature reserve for local birds, but its long history supposedly includes three curses. The first is said to have been cast in 1639 by the chief of the Paugussett tribe, after the nation was driven off the land by settlers—the chief supposedly cursed any building erected on the land. The second was supposedly laid in 1699 when the pirate Captain William Kidd stopped by the island to bury his booty and protected it with a curse. Shortly afterward, Kidd was caught and executed for his crimes—taking the location of his treasure to his grave.

The third curse is said to have come all the way from Mexico. In 1525, Mexican emperor Guatimozin was tortured by Spaniards hoping to locate Aztec treasure, but he refused to give up its whereabouts. In 1721, a group of sailors from Connecticut supposedly stumbled across the Aztec loot hidden in a cave in Mexico. After an unfortunate journey home in which disaster after disaster slowly depleted the crew, the sole surviving sailor reportedly landed on Charles Island, where he buried the cursed treasure in the hope of negating its hex.


A house in Bodie, California
Jim Bahn, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Bodie, in California's Sierra Nevadas, sprang up as a result of the gold rush. The town boomed in the late 19th century, with a population nearing 10,000 people. But as the gold seams ran dry, Bodie began a slow and steady decline, hastened by a series of devastating fires. By the 1950s, the place had become a ghost town, and in 1962 it was designated a State Historic Park, with the the buildings kept in a state of “arrested decay." Bodie's sad history has encouraged rumors of a curse, and many visitors to the site who have picked up an abandoned souvenir have reportedly been dogged with bad luck. So much so, the Bodie museum displays numerous letters from tourists who have sent back pilfered booty in the hope of breaking their run of ill fortune.

But the curse didn't start with prospectors or spooked visitors. The rumor apparently originated from rangers at the park, who hoped that the story would prevent visitors from continuing to steal items. In one sense the story worked, since many people are now too scared to pocket artifacts from the site; in another, the rangers have just succeeded in increasing their workload, as they now receive letter after letter expressing regret for taking an item and reporting on the bad luck it caused—further reinforcing the idea of the Bodie curse.

Chris Jackson, Getty Images
21 Other Royal Babies Born In The Last 20 Years
Chris Jackson, Getty Images
Chris Jackson, Getty Images

by Kenny Hemphill

At 11:01 a.m. on April 23, 2018, the Royal Family got a new member when it was announced that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have welcomed their third child, a (yet-to-be-named) boy, who will become fifth in line to the throne. While William and Kate's three children may be the youngsters closest to the throne, they're not the only pint-sized descendants of Queen Elizabeth II to be born in the past 20 years. Here are 21 more of them.


Arthur Robert Nathaniel Chatto, who turned 19 years old February 5, is the younger son of Lady Sarah and Daniel Chatto. He is 23rd in the line of succession—and has been raising some royal eyebrows with his penchant for Instagram selfies.


The grandson of Lord Snowden and Princess Margaret, and son of the 2nd Earl and Countess of Snowdon, Charles—who was born on July 1, 1999—is the heir apparent to the Earldom of Snowdon.


Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (R) speaks to Serena Armstrong-Jones, Countess of Snowdon (L), David Armstrong-Jones (2L), 2nd Earl of Snowdon, and Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones (2R).

Born on May 14, 2002, Lady Margarita is sister to Charles Armstrong-Jones, and great-niece to the Queen. She's 20th in line to the throne.


Lady Louise Windsor is the eldest child and only daughter of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, and Sophie, Countess of Wessex. She was born on November 8, 2003 and is 11th in line for the throne.


The third child of Lady Helen and Timothy Taylor, Eloise Olivia Katherine Taylor was born on March 2, 2003 and is 43rd in line for the throne.


Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge chats to Estella Taylor on the balcony during Trooping the Colour - Queen Elizabeth II's Birthday Parade, at The Royal Horseguards on June 14, 2014 in London, England
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Eloise's younger sister, Estella Olga Elizabeth Taylor, was born on December 21, 2004. She is the youngest of the four Taylor children and is 44th in succession.


The younger child of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, James Alexander Philip Theo Mountbatten-Windsor—or Viscount Severn—was born on December 17, 2007 and is 10th in line for the throne.


Albert Louis Philip Edward Windsor, born September 22, 2007, is notable for being the first royal baby to be baptized a Catholic since 1688. He is the son of Lord and Lady Nicholas Windsor, and grandson of the Duke and Duchess of Kent. According to the Act of Settlement, which was passed in 1701, being baptized Catholic would automatically exclude a potential royal from the line of succession. But there was some controversy surrounding this when, up until 2015, the Royal Family website included Albert.


Lord Culloden, Xan Richard Anders Windsor, is son to the Earl of Ulster and Claire Booth, and grandson of the Duke of Gloucester. He was born on March 2, 2007 and is 26th in succession.


Like his older brother Albert, Leopold Windsor—who was born on September 8, 2009—is not in line to the throne, by virtue of being baptized a Roman Catholic (though he, too, was listed on the Royal Family's website for a time).


Autumn Phillips, Isla Phillips, Peter Philips and Savannah Phillips attend Christmas Day Church service at Church of St Mary Magdalene on December 25, 2017 in King's Lynn, England
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Savannah Anne Kathleen Phillips, the Queen's first great-grandchild, was born on December 29, 2010 to Peter Phillips, son of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips, and Autumn Kelly. She is 14th in line for the throne.


Senna Kowhai Lewis, who was born on June 2, 2010, is the daughter of Gary and Lady Davina Lewis, elder daughter of Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester. She was a beneficiary of the Succession to the Crown Act 2013, which abolished the practice of giving sons precedence over daughters in the line of succession, regardless of when they are born. As a result, she is 29th in succession.


Daughter of Lady Rose and George Gilman, and granddaughter of Prince Richard, 2nd Duke of Gloucester, Lyla Beatrix Christabel Gilman was born on May 30, 2010. She is 32nd in succession.


Lady Cosima Rose Alexandra Windsor was born on May 20, 2010. She is sister to Lord Culloden, daughter of the Earl of Ulster and Claire Booth, and granddaughter to the Duke of Gloucester. She's 27th in line for the throne.


Lyla Gilman's brother, Rufus, born in October 2012, is 33rd in line for the throne.


Tāne Mahuta Lewis, Senna's brother, was named after a giant kauri tree in the Waipoua Forest of the Northland region of New Zealand. He was born on May 25, 2012 and is 30th in line for the throne, following the Succession to the Crown Act 2013.


Princess Anne, Princess Royal, Isla Phillips and Peter Phillips attend a Christmas Day church service
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Peter and Autumn Phillips's second and youngest daughter, Isla Elizabeth Phillips, was born on March 29, 2012 and is 15th in succession.


Maud Elizabeth Daphne Marina Windsor, the daughter of Lord Frederick and Lady Sophie of Windsor and granddaughter of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, was born on August 15, 2013 and is 47th in line for the throne.


Louis Arthur Nicholas Felix Windsor, who was born on May 27, 2014, is the youngest child of Lord and Lady Nicholas Windsor, and brother of Leopold and Albert. As he was baptized into the Roman Catholic church, he's not in line to the throne.


Mike Tindall, Zara Tindall and their daughter Mia Tindall pose for a photograph during day three of The Big Feastival at Alex James' Farm on August 28, 2016 in Kingham, Oxfordshire.
Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images

Daughter of Zara Phillips and her husband, former England rugby player Mike Tindall, Mia Grace Tindall was born on January 17, 2014 and is 17th in the line of succession.


Isabella Alexandra May, the second and youngest daughter of Lord Frederick and Lady Sophie of Windsor, was the last addition to the royal family. In July 2016, she was christened at Kensington Palace wearing the same gown worn by both Prince George and Princess Charlotte (it's a replica of the one that Queen Victoria's children wore). Looking on was celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who is one of Isabella's godparents.


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