My Superman

Because I was up for this gig.  Along with ten thousand other writers, I’m sure.  Jiminy, thing was in development for 19 years, they must have asked everyone on the planet at least once.

Anyway, I never got to the pitch stage (wait a minute, I wasn’t up for this gig after all — I was up for Batman vs. Superman — so this idea never would have worked anyway –)

Anyway, I had this idea.  And now that the official WB/DC approved movie is out, I know that they’ll never do my idea.  But I still think it’s a great idea and here I share it with you.

The executive I spoke with at WB was interested, of course, in “re-inventing” Superman.  So I set my mind to that task and came up with this.

WHAT DOES SUPERMAN KNOW ABOUT HIMSELF?  Superman knows that he is the Last Son of Krypton.  He knows that his father, Jor-El, was a scientist who predicted that Krypton would explode, and that Jor-El stuck him in a rocket-ship and sent him to Earth where he could be safe.  More than safe, actually.  Jor-El did all this because he loved him so much.

HOW DOES SUPERMAN KNOW ALL THIS?  Well, in the 1978 picture, young Clark finds a glowing green crystal in the barn and takes it, logically enough, to the Arctic, where he throws it in the water and it grows into a crystal palace.  And Jor-El comes on in a hologram projector thing and tells young Clark about all this.

Okay.  Here’s the pitch.  What if — oh, how screenwriters love sentences that begin with “What if — “

WHAT IF JOR-EL IS LYING?  What if everything that Jor-El puts in his message to Clark is a lie?  What if Kal-El is not the last son of Krypton, what if Jor-El was not a scientist, what if Krypton did not explode, what if Jor-El isn’t even Superman’s father?

Well, why would he lie to young Clark like that?  Because Jor-El killed Superman’s father.  Because Superman’s father was the Wise and Good King of Krypton, and Jor-El killed him, and put his son in a rocket-ship and sent him off to God knows where, and put this message in the green crystal tucked inside the blanket on the rocket-ship so that Kal-El would never come looking for him.  He put on this act of being such a kind father, such a loving father, all so that dumb little Kal-El would never think to go back home, looking for Krypton, to find that Jor-El is, in fact, an evil usurper who is running the planet into the ground.

Which, in fact, is what has occurred.  Jor-El, like our own president Bush, is an evil, greedy dictator, always using up more, more, more.  And he’s been gradually taking over other planets, spreading his evil all over the galaxy.  He’s got an army millions of soldiers strong, always expanding his influence, Rome-like, across the universe.

And now he’s gotten to Earth.

And Superman finds out (somehow) that Jor-El is still alive.  He intercepts a space-telegram or something.  And he goes out to the moon or something to meet up with his beloved Daddy and there’s Jor-El with a whole army of soldiers, and THEY’RE ALL SUPER.  And they fight Superman on the moon, grab him, shove him down, ram a piece of Kryptonite into his mouth and take off for Earth, to kill everyone on the planet and turn it into another Kryptonian outpost.

And Superman has to do something about that.  Because he finally realizes, after a lifetime of misplaced, mopey homesickness, that he’s not a Kryptonian.  He’s an Earthling.

It’s The Chalk Circle all over again.

Anyway, so that was my idea.  When the Bryan Singer picture got greenlit, I knew it was dead, but I brought it up to a friend at DC once because I thought it would make a good “Elseworlds” series.  His eyebrows shot up to a fair distance above his head when I got to the big twist, but he said it went “too far” in re-writing the Superman ethos and that they weren’t doing the “Elseworlds” stories any more.

So there you have it.  I have another story that involves Batman, Superman and a surprise twist, but maybe I’ll save that for the next issue of Bizarro.
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19 Responses to “My Superman”
  1. craigjclark says:

    Well, I would have gone to see that movie. The current Superman Rejiggered? Doesn’t hold my interest whatsoever.

    • Todd says:

      So, see? If I could have made it for a budget of a dollar, and WB could have promoted it for a budget of two dollars, and you had gone to see it, they would have turned a tidy profit.

      These people lack vision.

      • craigjclark says:

        Almost makes you wonder why they bother employing writers in the first place. Writers are people who have original ideas. When was the last time Hollywood was interested in those?

        • Todd says:

          Sadly, I think the answer to your question is “never.” Hollywood, since its inception, has been a supremely conservative institution, timid to try anything new, different, imaginative or startling. When something truly original and innovative comes along, Hollywood always, always resists it, whether it’s DW Griffith or David Lynch or Robert Rodriguez. In order to get anything worthwhile done, an original thinker must figure out how to do it outside of Hollywood. Hollywood always welcomes an original idea when it makes money of its own accord, but it has never been inspired to invest in originality with its own money.

          That said, I don’t consider my Superman idea original, exactly. Provocative perhaps, but not original. 2001 was original, Blue Velvet was original, Schizopolis is original. I just wanted to write a good Superman story. Because Superman, we know, is always going to win. But if he was fighting the guy he always thought was his father, and the guy had an army of Super-Soldiers… well, it sounded exciting to me.

          • greyaenigma says:

            There was an episode of Lois and Clark that seemed similar to this. I think it was a two-parter, I’m not sure I ever saw both. And Smallville’s Jor-El seems, for all his omnipotence, fairly malevolent.

            It seems like a good idea for a DC Elseworlds mini-series, a la Red Sun (Son?) I like comic books. I also liked Superman Returns a lot. It was ahuge homage to Christopher Reeve an the earlier series.

            The thing about Superman facing an entire Army of supermen — doesn’t that just make him a guy in a red and blue suit? Hmm. Especially if they had kryptonite guns, as you would expect them to. Another ponderable — why wouldn’t Jor El or Rove El just kill Kal? Or just send him to the Phantom Zone? Hmm. That would be a good source of dissidents. General Zod — freedom fighter!

            • Anonymous says:

              The thing about Superman facing an entire Army of supermen — doesn’t that just make him a guy in a red and blue suit?

              Yes, but he knows the terrain. It puts him on the defensive and connects him with his “real” home, which is not Krypton but Earth.

              why wouldn’t Jor El or Rove El just kill Kal?

              Good question. I never got far enough into this to answer it.

              the Phantom Zone? […] a good source of dissidents.

              Absolutely! This idea gets better and better the more I think about it.

              • greyaenigma says:

                why wouldn’t Jor El or Rove El just kill Kal?

                I was reminded of King Acrisius, Danae, Perseus when I first thought of this, but that starts heading into Skywalkerland with the golden shower and all. But there could be some sort of strong Kryptonian taboo against killing (or, presumably, jailing) infants.

                I saw the trailer for The Ant Bully last night. Interesting coincidence, since that discussion just happened. Had the same theme of everyone working together, but what else would ants preach? Even more synchronicitastic, my girlfriend asked me about when Spider-man 3 was coming out, just minutes before our first glimpse of that trailer.

                • Todd says:

                  that starts heading into Skywalkerland with the golden shower and all.

                  I must have been getting popcorn during that scene. Is that in Phantom Menace? Maybe the porn version (The Phantom Member).

                  • greyaenigma says:

                    It’s pre-Phantom Menace, the bit where the god-like microscopic Midichlorians knock up Anakin’s mother and bring about the destined warrior who will ultimately be able to deliver us from evil.

                    It was a boring expository scene, so I can’t blame you for leaving.

  2. popebuck1 says:

    It would have been fun, just to release the plot outline onto the Internet, and then to run outside and hear the gentle sounds of millions of fanboys’ heads nationwide, exploding like so much popcorn.

  3. I was up for Batman vs. Superman — so this idea never would have worked anyway

    Wait, so that was you? My friends Pickles brought that up just last night, “Where is my Superman VS. Batman, dammnit?”. I think he’s disappointed it never got made.

    [Hope you don’t mind me commenting on your journal!]

    • Todd says:

      All are welcome.

      It is my understanding that Batman v. Superman, which was to be a huge-budgeted movie directed by Wolfgang Petersen, was kiboshed when both Batman Begins and Superman Returns came together first. All three movies had been in development for quite a long time.

    • urbaniak says:

      I wish I had a friend named Pickles.

      • Todd says:

        “Pickles” is a mild oath that my 3-year-old daughter uses regularly.

        Dad: Kit, I tried to get your balloon home but it popped in the car.
        Kit: Pickles!

  4. greyaenigma says:

    Prompted by Superman Returns and Hate Floats (god, how did I forget the “Can you read my mind?” bit?) I rewatched Superman this weekend.

    It was interesting how Bush-like Jor-El comes off in the very beginning: a closed tribunal, where evidence is never spoken, the accused are banished to a place where there is no appeal and no one will ever see them again.

    Of course, Zod kind of ruined the mood with his ranting, but up until then it looked like they might have actually been restrained from speaking.

    I also hadn’t noticed (or had forgotten) that Clark essnetially kills his father — “Hey, dad! Let’s race! I’ve got super speed, and you’ve got a bad heart — it’ll be fun!”