At one point, J.J. Abrams was set to direct a film titled Superman Flyby. In the early 2000s, the director offered a script that would explore the origin story of Kal-El, as well as explore the civil war on his home planet before being launched to Earth. At the time, Brett Ratner was attached to direct the film, which was going to start production in 2003. Supposedly he approached Josh Hartnett and Jude Law for the titular role. As we know now, the project never came together
While we’ll never know what could’ve been, Ryan Unicomb, shared some of the unused concept artwork from Flyby that offers a glimpse of what could’ve been. Not only do we get a look at what the film’s Superman costume was going to look like, but it feels like a mixture of Brandon Routh‘s Superman Returns look with what Henry Cavill would make iconic.
We also get a good look at Metropolis with a very comic-accurate version of the Daily Planet. What stands out is this version of Kryptonite that feels closer to what we see in Star Wars than the more modern version showcased in other media. The script included Superman fighting a group of Kypronians that fled its destruction. So, elements of Flyby may have found their way into Man of Steel which would release in 2013. Ideas tend to always carry over through multiple drafts and it’s fun to get a glimpse on what could’ve been so long ago.