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What Might Have Been: 'Superman Returns' Co-Writer Talks Loosely Planned Sequel

The Playlist By Christopher Bell | The Playlist November 6, 2010 at 8:38AM

Writer Michael Dougherty Discusses The Sequel That *Could* Have Been; Zach Snyder Reiterates Zod Won't Be The Villain In 'Man Of Steel'With all the talk about the new iteration of "Superman: The Man of Steel," some story info was bound to leak on the sequel that never was, the follow up to Bryan Singer's "Superman Returns."
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Writer Michael Dougherty Discusses The Sequel That *Could* Have Been; Zach Snyder Reiterates Zod Won't Be The Villain In 'Man Of Steel'


With all the talk about the new iteration of "Superman: The Man of Steel," some story info was bound to leak on the sequel that never was, the follow up to Bryan Singer's "Superman Returns."

Though no script was formally written, Singer was developing ideas and in a 2008 interview mentioned any sequel would have been a lot different from the first film, which he fully admitted was "romantic and nostalgic." "Clearly there'll be a body count," he laughed, joking, "from frame one, it will be unrelenting terror!" If anything, "Superman Returns" was admirable for not following the generic super hero film formula of tacking on a tiresome (and rarely rewarding) boss fight in the last ten minutes. Whether it worked or not is debatable, but it definitely would've been interesting to see the action chops that Singer displayed with his "X-Men" movies in the Superman universe. Unfortunately, it was never in the cards.

Never even greenlit, the follow up to 'Returns' now simply lands in the, "what might have been" category.. Oddly enough, original scribe Michael Dougherty ( co-writer of "X2," and now a director, with "Trick 'r Treat" which has been getting decent praise) also had plans for the sequel if he had been asked to come aboard. You may remember that in the beginning of "Superman Returns," Brandon Routh had left the planet looking for the rest of his breed without any luck (hence the title of the film), and it turns out that Dougherty was instead interested in his kinship finding him. "In my mind, if the Kryptonians really were a space-faring race... it would only make sense that there would’ve been colonies and off-planet missions... other Kryptonians making their way to Earth seemed like a pretty big one." Definitely sounds like decent grounding for an exciting brawl.

The Kryptonians however, “wouldn’t necessarily be evil right off the bat”, Dougherty said. “That’s too easy and cliché. I don’t think people just show up and they’re evil. I think it’d be interesting to see how these other Kryptonians show up, land and have all these powers and [have to learn] how to adapt to them."

Prepared to "right the wrongs" of the first film, Dougherty also probably would've ushered in other villains not previously seen in big screen adaptions. "I love action, so I wanted action, and I was the guy in the room who kept whining about wanting a super villain," he added, “Brainiac was always interesting.” So would the second film have also followed the bloated two-villain routine? Possibly, so maybe it's not a bad thing that this one never saw the light of day. As for Dougherty's taste, action might be the only thing Zack Snyder vaguely knows about (so long as it runs in slow-mo), so he might be in a for a good time. As for who the "Man of Steel" villain is, that remains to be seen, though Snyder is damn persistent in claiming, once again, that Zod will not be the antagonist. Though Snyder seems to be waffling. In early interviews it was said the film would track the early days of Superman and now Snyder says, "I think it's early to say. I don't know." Either that, or he just can't say which is likely.

But back to the never-happened "Superman Returns" sequel. True, all of these ideas were merely just that and barely even made it to paper -- "There was never any official deal for the second one”, Dougherty said, “There was always talk and whispers and stuff but nothing ever got off the ground" -- however it's nice to know what might have happened had the studio gave them the go ahead. A Superman film in the vein of the first two "X-Men" would've been a sight to see. At the least, now we can look forward to a ridiculous sex scene set to god knows what kind of unintentionally funny and poor choice of music.

This article is related to: Films, Super Hero Films, Superman Returns, Michael Dougherty


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