Superman (film series)

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The Superman film series consists of five superhero films based on the DC Comics character of the same name. The films contain storylines such as Superman's origin story, growing up in Smallville, fighting Kryptonian supervillains and Lex Luthor, romancing with Lois Lane, and returning to Earth after a long visit to Krypton. Warner Bros has served as main distributor of all films.

Ilya and Alexander Salkind and Pierre Spengler purchased the Superman film rights in 1973. After numerous scripts, Richard Donner was hired to direct, filming Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980) simultaneously. Donner had already shot 80% of Superman II before it was decided to finish shooting the first film. Richard Lester finished with II and returned for Superman III (1983). Cannon Films acquired the film rights, resulting in Superman IV: The Quest For Peace (1987). With over 15 years of development for a fifth Superman film, Superman Returns (2006) was released, directed by Bryan Singer. Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut was released the same year.

Critics have given positive reviews for Superman, Superman II, Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut and Superman Returns. Superman III and Superman IV have been met with negative feedback. Since Warner Bros. was not impressed with the financial reception of Superman Returns, the studio is planning to reboot the film series.


Reeve series

Superman (1978)

See Superman (film) In 1973, producer Ilya Salkind convinced his father Alexander to buy the rights to Superman. They hired Mario Puzo to pen a two-film script, and negotiated with Steven Spielberg to direct, though Alexander Salkind rejected him as Jaws went over budget. Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman signed on to play Jor-El and Lex Luthor respectively, and Guy Hamilton was hired to direct. However, Brando was faced with an obscenity lawsuit in Italy over Last Tango in Paris, and Hamilton was unable to shoot in England as he had violated his tax payments. The Salkinds hired Richard Donner to direct the film. Donner hired Tom Mankiewicz to polish the script.

Christopher Reeve was cast as Superman, having initially failed to impress the Salkinds before bulking up. Brando meanwhile, despite spending less than two weeks on the shoot, and not even reading the script until then, earned $3.7 million up front, plus 11.75% of the gross profits from the film. The film was a success both critically and commercially, being released during the Christmas season of 1978; it did not have much competition, leading the producers to believe that this was one factor in the film's success.

Superman II (1980)

See Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut Shooting of the two films was marred by Donner's bad relationship with the Salkinds, with Richard Lester acting as mediator. With the film going over-budget, the filmmakers decided to temporarily cease production of II and move that film's climax into the first film. Despite Superman's success, Donner did not return to finish Superman II, and was with Lester, who gave the film a more tongue-in-cheek tone. The Salkinds also cut Brando for financial reasons, while John Williams quit as composer due to turning his attention to other projects. Superman II was a financial and critical success, despite its main competition in 1981, Steven Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Superman III (1983)

See Superman III For the third installment, Ilya Salkind wrote a treatment that expanded the film's scope to a cosmic scale, introducing the villains Brainiac and Mister Mxyzptlk, as well as Supergirl. The original outline featured a father-daughter relationship between Brainiac and Supergirl, and a romance between Superman and Supergirl, even though the two were cousins in comic continuity. Warner Bros. rejected it and created ther own Superman III film that co-starred Richard Pryor as computer wizard Gus Gorman, who under the manipulation of a millionaire magnate, creates a form of Kryptonite that turns the Man of Steel into an evil self. The re-tooled script parred Brainiac down into the film's evil "ultimate computer". Despite the film's success, fans were disappointing with the film, in particular with Pryor's performance diluting the serious tone of the previous films, as well as controversy over the depiction of the evil Superman.

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)

See Superman IV: The Quest For Peace Cannon films picked up an option for a fourth Superman/Reeve film, with Reeve reprising the role due to his interest in the film's topic regarding nuclear weapons. However, Cannon decided to cut the budget of Superman IV: The Quest for Peace from $35 million to $17 million, with poor special effects and heavy re-editing leading to the film's poor reception. Warner Bros. decided to give the franchise a break following the mixed reception of the last two Superman films.

Failed projects

Superman V

After the failure of Superman IV: The Quest For Peace, Cannon Films considered producing a fifth film with Albert Pyun as director. Financial troubles resulted in the film rights reverting back to Ilya and Alexander Salkind. After having produced Superboy, Ilya was inspired to produce another Superman film. Salkind wrote the story for Superman V (also known as Superman: The New Movie) with Superboy writers Cary Bates and Mark Jones.

The story had Superman dying and resurrecting in the shrunken, bottled Kryptonian city of Kandor. The premise of Superman's death and rebirth coincidentally predated Death of Superman. Salkind, Bates and Jones developed two drafts of the script, with Christopher Reeve set to reprise the leading role.

Superman Reborn

"In any good Superman movie, the fate of the whole planet should be at stake. You've got to have villains whose powers and abilities demand that Superman (and only Superman) can be the one who stops them. Their powers have to tax Superman to the limit. That's the only way to make the movie exciting and a dramatic challenge."

Upon viewing the success of Death of Superman comic storyline, Warner Bros decided to purchase the film rights of Superman from Alexander Salkind in early 1993, handing the project to Jon Peters. In return, Peters hired friend Jonathan Lemkin to write the script. Lemkin cited the project as a commercial film, claiming he was primarily advised to perform the script in a style for the new teenage generation of the 1990s. In addition, major toy companies insisted on seeing Lemkin's screenplay before the deadline of the American International Toy Fair. Lemkin cited inspirations from Star Wars and The Lion King.

Lemkin's script (also titled Superman Reborn) featured Lois Lane and Clark Kent with relationship troubles that are only resolved after Superman's battle with Doomsday. When he professes his love to her, his life force jumps between them, just as he dies, impregnating Lois. She gives birth to a child who grows 21 years in three weeks, and is essentially the resurrected Superman. Warner Bros. was overly disappointed with the script, feeling it contained underlying themes with Batman Forever (1995).

Peters brought in Gregory Poirier, his collaborator on Rosewood (1997), with his script (dated December 20, 1995) introducing Brainiac, who in turn creates Doomsday and who is infused with Kryptonite blood. Superman tries to deal with being an alien in love with Lois Lane via psychiatric help. Once Superman is killed by Doomsday, his corpse is stolen by an alien named Cadmus, a victim of Brainiac. Superman is resurrected and teams with Cadmus to defeat Brainiac. Powerless, Superman wears a robotic suit that mimics his old powers until he can learn to use his powers again on his own, which, according to the script, are a mental discipline called "Phin-yar", a concept similar to The Force. Other villains included Parasite and Silver Banshee. Poirier's script had impressed the studio, but Kevin Smith was invited in their offices to rewrite the script, and turned down offers such as a remake for The Architects of Fear and Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian instead to work on Superman Reborn. One of the projects that caught Smith's eye was Superman Reborn, and he later convinced Warner Bros. to let him write the screenplay, thinking Poirier's draft didn't respect the Superman comic book properly.

Superman Lives

Teaser poster that premiered at American International Toy Fair in 1997, designed by Sylvain Despretz
Teaser poster that premiered at American International Toy Fair in 1997, designed by Sylvain Despretz

Kevin Smith pitched to Jon Peters his story outline in August 1996, in which Peters gave him permission to write a screenplay. However, Peters presented Smith with three rules, such as wanting Superman to wear an all-black suit; not wanting to see Superman fly, saying that Superman would "look like an overgrown Boy Scout." (In order to deal with this, Smith wrote Superman flying as "a red-and-blue blur in flight, creating a sonic boom every time he flew."); and have Superman fight a giant spider in the third act. Smith accepted the terms, realizing that he was being hired to execute a pre-ordained idea. Peters and Warner Bros. forced Smith to write a scene involving Brainiac fighting polar bears at the Fortress of Solitude, and Peters wanted Brainiac to give Lex Luthor a space dog, stating "Chewie's cuddly, man. You could make a toy out of him, so you've got to give me a dog." Smith claims this was because of the recent re-release of the original Star Wars trilogy, and claims that Peters wanted Brainiac's robot assistant L-Ron to be voiced by Dwight Ewell. Peters was able to recycle his giant spider idea in Wild Wild West (1999), a film he produced.

Smith's draft (titled Superman Lives) had Brainiac sending Doomsday to kill Superman, as well as blocking out the sun to make Superman powerless, as Superman is fueled by sunlight. Brainiac teams with Lex Luthor, but Superman is resurrected by a Kryptonian robot, The Eradicator. Brainiac wishes to possess The Eradicator and its technology. Powerless, the resurrected Superman is sheathed in armor formed from The Eradicator itself until his powers return, courtesy of sunbeams, and defeats Brainiac. Smith's casting choices included Ben Affleck as Clark Kent / Superman, Linda Fiorentino as Lois Lane, Jack Nicholson as Lex Luthor, Famke Janssen as Mercy, John Mahoney as Perry White, David Hyde Pierce as The Eradicator, Jason Lee as Brainiac and Jason Mewes as Jimmy Olsen.

Robert Rodriguez was offered the chance to direct, but turned down the offer due to his commitment on The Faculty (1998), despite liking Smith's script. Smith originally suggested Tim Burton to direct his script, and Burton signed on with a pay or play contract of $5 million and the studio set the theatrical release date in the summer of 1998, the 60th anniversary of the character's debut in Action Comics. Nicolas Cage, a comic book fan, signed on as Superman with a $20 million pay or play contract, feeling he could "re-conceive the character." Peters felt Cage could "convince audiences he [Superman] came from outer space." Burton stated it would be "the first time you would believe that nobody could recognize Clark Kent as Superman, he [Cage] could physically change his persona."Kevin Spacey was approached for the role of Lex Luthor, while Tim Allen claimed he was in talks for Brainiac (a role heavily considered for Jim Carrey). Courteney Cox was reported as a casting possibility for Lois Lane, while Smith confirmed Chris Rock was set for Jimmy Olsen. Michael Keaton confirmed his involvement, but when asked if he would be reprising his role as Batman (as he had done in Burton's Batman and Batman Returns), he would only reply, "Not exactly."Industrial Light & Magic was set for work on special effects.

Design for the Superman suit by James Carson and Sylvain Despretz
Design for the Superman suit by James Carson and Sylvain Despretz

It was announced in April 1997 that filming would begin early-1998. That June, Superman Lives entered pre-production, with an art department employed under production designer Rick Heinrichs. Burton decided to hire Wesley Strick to completely rewrite Smith's script. In return, Smith was overtly disappointed: "The studio was happy with what I was doing. Then Tim Burton got involved, and when he signed his pay-or-play deal, he turned around and said he wanted to do his version of Superman. So who is Warner Bros. going back to? The guy who made Clerks, or the guy who made them half a billion dollars on Batman?" When Strick read Smith's script, he was annoyed with the fact that "Superman was accompanied/shadowed by someone/something called The Eradicator." He also felt that "Brainiac's evil plot of launching a disk in space to block out the sun and make Superman powerless was reminiscent of an episode of The Simpsons, with Mr. Burns doing the Brainiac role." However, after reading The Death and Return of Superman, Strick claimed he understood some of the elements of Smith's script. Strick's rewrite featured Superman questioning his existence and abilities, thinking of himself to be an outsider on Earth. Superman is threatened by Brainiac and Lex Luthor, who later amalgamate into "Lexiac," described by Strick as "a schizo/scary mega-villain." Superman is later resurrected by the power of 'K', a natural force representing the spirit of Krypton, as Superman defeats Lexiac.

Art designer Sylvain Despretz claimed the art department was assigned to create something that had little or nothing to do with the Superman comic book. Despretz also claimed that Peters "would bring kids in, who would rate the drawings on the wall as if they were evaluating the toy possibilities. It was basically a toy show!" Peters saw a cover of National Geographic, containing a picture of a skull, going to art department workers, telling them he wanted the design for Brainiac's space ship to have the same image. Burton gave Despretz a concept drawing for Brainiac, which Despretz claims was "a cone with a round ball on top, and something that looked like a emaciated skull inside. Imagine you take Merlin's hat, and you stick a fish bowl on top, with a skull in it." Concept artist Rolf Mohr claimed he designed a suit for The Eradicator for a supposed scene when he turns into a flying vehicle. At one point, Peters wanted to have the Eradicator to carry a certain "Eradicator Stick," claiming he had visions for images of posters and toys coming out contain the Stick.

"We got the Kevin Smith script, but we were told not to read it, because they knew he wasn't going to stay on the movie. So we used Kevin Smith's script as a guide to the sets we might be doing, and we waited and waited for the new script to come in, but it never did."|source=—Art designer Sylvain Despretz on designing Superman Lives

Burton chose Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as his primary filming location for Metropolis, while sound stages were reserved but start dates for filming were pushed back. A minor piece of the Krypton set was constructed but then destroyed, and Cage had even attended a costume fitting. The studio was considering changing the title Superman Lives back to Superman Reborn. The film's escalating budget (which went from $100 million to $190 million) forced Warner Bros. to ultimately put the film on hold in April 1998, and Burton left to direct Sleepy Hollow. At this point in production, $30 million was spent, with nothing to show for it. To this day, Burton has depicted the experience of Superman Lives as one of the worst experiences in his life, citing various differences with Peters and the studio, stating, "I basically wasted a year. A year is a long time to be working with somebody that you don't really want to be working with."


Warner Bros. enlisted the aid of Dan Gilroy to rewrite Wesley Strick's script as a means to lower the $190 million budget, which he brought down to $100 million. However, Warner Bros. was still less willing to heavily move forward on production, due to financial reasons with other film properties, Disappointed by the lack of progress on the film's production, aspiring screenwriter/comic book fan Alex Ford was able to have a script of his (titled Superman: The Man of Steel) get accepted at the studio's offices in September 1998. Ford pitched his idea for a film series consisting of seven films, and his approach impressed Jon Peters and Warner Bros., though he was later given a farewell due to creative differences. On the experience, Ford quoted, "I can tell you they don't know much about comics. Their audience isn't you and me who pay $7.00. It's for the parents who spend $60 on toys and lunchboxes. It is a business, and what's more important, the $150 million at the box office or the $600 million in merchandising?"

With Gilroy's script, Peters offered the director's position to Ralph Zondag, Michael Bay, Shekhar Kapur and Martin Campbell though they all turned down the offer. Brett Ratner turned down the option in favor of The Family Man. In addition, The Hollywood Reporter claimed Simon West and Stephen Norrington being top contenders. In June 1999, William Wisher Jr was hired to write a new script, approaching Nicolas Cage on story elements. Cage dropped out of the project entirely in June 2000, while Wisher turned in a new script in August 2000, reported to have contained similar elements with The Matrix (1999). In October 2000, Comic book veteran Keith Giffen pitched a 17-page story treatment with Lobo as the main villain, but the studio did not proceed with further involvement. Oliver Stone was then approached to direct Wisher's script, but declined, while in April 2001, The Hollywood Reporter revealed Paul Attanasio was hired to completely start on a new script, earning a salary of $1.7 million.

Batman vs. Superman

Although it was widely reported that McG had become attached to Paul Attanasio's script, In February 2002, JJ Abrams was hired to write a new screenplay. It would ignore Death of Superman storyline, and instead, would reboot the film series with an origin story, going under the title of Superman: Flyby. The project had gone as far as being greenlighted, but McG stepped out in favor of Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. The studio approached Wolfgang Petersen to direct Abrams' script, Andrew Kevin Walker pitched Warner Bros an idea titled Batman vs Superman, attaching Peterson as director. Abrams' script was put on hold, and for reasons unknown, Akiva Goldsman was hired to rewrite Walker's draft which was codenamed "Asylum".

Goldsman's draft (dated June 21, 2002), had the premise of Bruce Wayne trying to shake all of the demons in his life after his five year retirement of crime fighting. Meanwhile, Clark Kent is down on his luck and in despair. Dick Grayson, Alfred Pennyworth and Commissioner Gordon are all dead and Clark has just recently divorced Lois Lane. Clark serves as Bruce's best man at his wedding to the beautiful and lovely Elizabeth Miller. After Elizabeth is killed by the Joker at the honeymoon, Bruce is forced to don the Batsuit once more, tangling a plot which involves Lex Luthor, while Clark sways a romance with Lana Lang in Smallville.

Peterson had mentioned Matt Damon when stating what type of an actor he was looking for either of the two roles. Inspired by Tobey Maguire's performance in Spider-Man (2002), Peterson was searching for actors who "can really act and give complexity and emotions, but would have the fun of being a great superhero and maybe pump up a little bit." Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, James Franco, Jude Law and Paul Walker were reported to be Warner Bros.' choices as Batman and Superman. Christian Bale was approached to portray Batman, both in Batman vs Superman and Batman: Year One (but preferred Aronofsky's script for Year One), while Josh Hartnett was offered the role of Superman.

Filming was to start in early 2003, with plans for a five to six month shoot. The release date was set for the summer of 2004. Batman vs Superman was to relaunch both the Batman and Superman franchises respectively, with both sequels being reboots. Within a month of the studio green lighting the project, Peterson left in favor of Troy (2004). Warner Bros. could have easily assigned a new director, but chose to cancel Batman vs Superman in favor of a recent script submitted by Abrams for Superman: Flyby. Peterson still has expressed interest in directing the project sometime in the future (with Bale as Batman), In the opening scene of I Am Legend, a large banner displays the Batman symbol within the Superman symbol in Times Square. It is meant as an in-joke by writer Akiva Goldsman, who wrote scripts for Batman vs. Superman and I Am Legend.

Superman: Flyby

Turning in his script in July 2002, JJ Abrams' Superman: Flyby movie was an origin story that included Krypton besieged by civil war between Jor-El and his corrupt brother, Kata-Zor. Jor-El launches infant Kal-El to Earth, thinking he would fulfill a certain prophecy and Jor-El is sentenced to prison. Kal-El is adopted by Jonathan and Martha Kent, and later swings a romance with Lois Lane in college, and at the Daily Planet. However, Lois is more concerned with exposing Lex Luthor, written as a government agent obsessed with UFO phenomena. Clark reveals himself to the world as Superman, bringing Kata-Zor’s son, Ty-Zor, and three other Kryptonians to Earth. Superman is defeated and killed, and visits Jor-El (who committed suicide on Krypton while in prison) in Kryptonian heaven. He's resurrected and defeats the four Kryptonians, while the script ends with Superman off to Krypton, leaving a cliffhanger for a sequel.

Brett Ratner signed to direct in September 2002, originally expressing an interest in casting an unknown for the lead role, while filming was to start sometime in late 2003. Ratner approached Josh Hartnett and Jude Law as Superman, but conceded that finding a famous actor for the title role had proven difficult because of contractual obligations to appear in sequels. "No star wants to sign that, but as much as I've told Jude and Josh my vision for the movie, I've warned them of the consequences of being Superman. They'll live this character for 10 years because I'm telling one story over three movies and plan to direct all three if the first is as successful as everyone suspects."

Although Superman: Flyby was being met with a budget excessing $200 million (not including money spent on Superman Reborn, Superman Lives and Batman vs. Superman), the studio was still adamant for a summer 2004 release date.Christopher Walken was in negotiations for Perry White, while Ratner expressed an interest in casting Anthony Hopkins as Lex Luthor, and Ralph Fiennes as Jor-El (two of his cast members in Red Dragon).

Christopher Reeve was to be a project consultant, citing Tom Welling, who portrayed the teenage Clark Kent in Smallville as an ideal candidate. Reeve added "the character is more important than the actor who plays him, because it is an enduring mythology. It definitely should be an unknown." In addition Paul Walker was offered the role, while Ashton Kutcher screen tested and Brendan Fraser and Matthew Bomer auditioned. Kutcher decided not to accept the role, citing scheduling conflicts with That '70s Show and the well noted Superman Curse as well as typecasting. Jerry O'Connell expressed interest for the role, while David Boreanaz auditioned, but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts with Angel. Victor Webster did an entire screentest that included wardrobe as both Clark Kent and Superman. Joel Edgerton (who turned down the chance to audition as Superman) auditioned for Kata-Zor, before Ratner dropped out of the project in March 2003, blaming casting difficulties, and violent disagreements with Jon Peters.

McG returned as director, while Fraser expressed interest, but had fears of typecasting.Selma Blair was in talks for Lois Lane, while ESC Entertainment was hired for visual effects work, with Kim Libreri as visual effects supervisor and Stan Winston designing a certain "prototype suit". McG approached Shia LaBeouf for Jimmy Olsen, with an interest to cast an unknown for Superman, Scarlett Johansson as Lois Lane and Johnny Depp for Lex Luthor. McG dropped out of directing, blaming budgetary concerns and filming locations. McG opted to shoot in New York City, but Warner Bros. changed it to Sydney, Australia. McG felt "it was inappropriate to try to capture the heart of America on another continent." However, in July 2004, Bryan Singer replaced McG as director, resulting in Superman Returns.


Superman Returns

Superman Returns

Following the departure of Ratner and McG, Bryan Singer, who was said to be a childhood fan of Richard Donner's film, was approached by Warner Bros. He accepted, abandoning two films already in pre-production, X-Men: The Last Stand and a remake of Logan's Run. Singer's story tells of Superman's return to Earth following a five year search for survivors of Krypton. He discovers that in his absence Lois Lane has given birth to a son and become engaged. Singer chose to follow Donner's lead by casting relatively unknown Brandon Routh as Superman, who resembled Christopher Reeve somewhat, and more high profile actors in supporting roles, such as Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor. Singer brought his entire crew from X2 to work on the film. Although Superman Returns received positive reviews, Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures were somewhat disappointed by the film's box office return. In the words of Warner Bros. President Alan F. Horn, "I thought it was a very successful movie, but I think it should have done $500 million worldwide. We should have had perhaps a little more action to satisfy the young male crowd."

Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut

Template:Main After receiving many requests of his own version of Superman II, Richard Donner and producer Michael Thau produced their own cut of the film and released it to DVD on November 28, 2006.



Warner Bros is currently planning to reboot the film series. With the financial and critical success of The Dark Knight, Warners said of the reboot Superman film, "We're going to try to go dark to the extent that the character allows it." Legendary Pictures president Thomas Tull said "Superman needs a powerful antagonist, a worthy opponent". Tull also wants to evoke Superman as an "angry God".


Man of Steel

In February 2006, Warner Bros. announced a summer 2009 theatrical release date for a sequel to Superman Returns. Legendary Pictures was to co-finance Superman: Man of Steel 50/50 with the studio, with Bryan Singer directing. Gilbert Adler, Jon Peters, and Singer were set as producers with Chris Lee to executive produce. There were to be multiple villains, with Brainiac and Bizarro under consideration to be used. Singer planned to have more action sequences, with the "New Krypton" landmass that was floating in space at the end of Superman Returns to be part of the storyline.[66] Superman was also going to fight "an enemy with real physical power".

Singer expressed interest filming some scenes in 3-D film, with post-production to take place in Hawaii. Man of Steel would have continued to use same musical themes established by John Williams in Superman. Brandon Routh was planning to return and improve his muscular physique once more. while Kate Bosworth was enthusiastic to return as Lois Lane. Kevin Spacey was set to portray Lex Luthor, and hoped to complete all of his scenes in a six-week block, as was done for Superman Returns. Sam Huntington and Frank Langella were to reprise Jimmy Olsen and Perry White because they were contracted for two sequels. Tristan Lake Leabu was also to return as Jason White. Parker Posey had offered to reprise Kitty Kowalski (even for a brief cameo appearance).

Singer dropped out of directing films such as Logan's Run and The Mayor on Castro Street in favor of Man of Steel. Warners and Legendary Pictures were disappointed by Superman Returns' theatrical box office, and were looking forward to a far lower budget for the sequel. Warner Bros. Pictures President Alan F. Horn explained, "I thought it was a very successful movie, but I think it should have done $500 million worldwide. We should have had perhaps a little more action to satisfy the young male crowd." $175 million was the maximum budget the studio was projecting.

In November 2006, work on the storyline was starting, with an eye to start filming in mid-2007. In March 2007, Singer halted Man of Steel in favor of Valkyrie. Filming was then set to begin in March 2008, while in April 2007, Singer, Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris were still working on the story, and Peters hoped to have a script by the end of the year. Peters planned pre-production to start in January —February 2008. Singer then announced filming would begin in mid-2008,while in October 2007, writers Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris left in favor of other career opportunities. The release date was then moved to 2010 because of the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike. In March 2008 Singer said the film was in early development. Routh expected filming to begin in early 2009 for a 2010 release


In June 2008, Mark Millar claimed to have approached Warner Bros. on restarting the franchise, hoping for a 2011 release. A very well-known American action director asked Millar to "team up with he and his producer to make a pitch." However, Millar later clarified his comments: "[. . .] you have to wait and see if Bryan [Singer] is going to do any more. You can’t just go in there and nick a project off a guy. If Bryan ends up standing back and goes to move on and do something else, we’ll be in there like a shot."

In July 2008, Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. were listening to various screenwriters to pitch their solutions for a second installment. Singer was still attached, while busy with post-production on Valkyrie. Comic book writers Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns, Mark Waid and Brad Meltzer also pitched their ideas for a reboot. Morrison stated, "I told them, it’s not that bad. Just treat Superman Returns as the Ang Lee Hulk." Waid said "The Incredible Hulk has proven the audience will forgive you and let you redo the franchise."Morrison's idea was similar to his work on All Star Superman, while Waid's was akin to Superman: Birthright.

In August 2008, Warner Bros. officially decided to reboot the film series. Studio executive Jeff Robinov plans to have the film released either by 2010 or 2011, explaining "Superman Returns didn't quite work as a film in the way that we wanted it to. It didn't position the character the way he needed to be positioned. Had Superman worked in 2006, we would have had a movie for Christmas of this year or 2009. Now the plan is just to reintroduce Superman without regard to a Batman and Superman movie at all." Likewise, in September 2008, Brett Ratner, who was once attached to direct Superman: FlyBy, revealed it was possible to still use Abrams' script for the reboot.


Box office performance

Film Release date Box office revenue Reference
United States Worldwide United States Outside US Worldwide
Superman December 15, 1978 December 15, 1978 $134,218,018 $166,000,000 $300,218,018
Superman II June 19, 1981 December 4, 1980 $108,185,706 Unknown Unknown
Superman III June 17, 1983 June 17, 1983 $59,950,623 Unknown Unknown
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace July 24, 1987 July 24, 1987 $15,681,020 Unknown Unknown "
Superman Returns June 28, 2006 June 28, 2006 $200,081,192 $191,000,000 $391,081,192
Superman film series $532,412,997 Unknown Unknown
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