A photo has emerged online on filmmaker Ryan Unicomb’s Instagram showing actor Josh Hartnett doing a costume test as Superman around two decades ago for the abandoned J.J. Abrams-penned “Superman: Flyby” film.
The project was in the works in the very early 2000s and came after Tim Burton’s failed to launch Nicolas Cage-led “Superman Lives” project in the late 1990s, but before Bryan Singer’s “Superman Returns” got underway.
“Felicity” and “Alias” creator Abrams penned a script for the film which originally had McG attached to direct and later Brett Ratner. It was ultimately abandoned before filming could begin.
The film was dubbed an origin story in which Krypton doesn’t explode and a civil war ravaging the planet spills over to Earth where Kal-El is sent after Jor-El is imprisoned. It took major liberties with Superman lore in its time.
A bunch of actors also tested for the role including Brendan Fraser and two young actors who did end up becoming Superman – Brandon Routh and Henry Cavill. Hartnett passed on the role with Matt Bomer emerging as the favorite to take it before the studio tossed the project.
Hartnett was also famously up for the Bruce Wayne/Batman role in Chris Nolan’s “Batman Begins” but turned it down with Christian Bale ultimately landing that part.