Many years ago, way back before Man Of Steel, Hollywood struggled to get Superman back to the screen. First, there was the infamous Tim Burton-led Superman Lives, which would have starred Nicholas Cage as Clark Kent.

Superman’s return would go through many different versions until he… erm… returned in Superman Returns in 2006. Just about every young, wholesome, handsome actor in Hollywood was testing for the role across these multiple versions. Brendan Fraser, still hot from The Mummy movies, was one of the runners. Jude Law tested. Both Henry Cavill and Brandon Routh also tested. Before their date with the destiny of the cape was fulfilled, Josh Hartnett was a favorite.

Superman: Flyby concept art by Jim Martin

By this time, this was for Superman: Flyby – an adaption that was based on one of the worst scripts I have ever read, by serial offender JJ Abrams. This was to be directed by Brett Ratner, after McG dropped out. Look how many bullets we dodged!

Superman: Flyby was an origin story in which Krypton doesn’t explode, and its civil war spills over to Earth where Kal-El is sent after Jor-El is imprisoned. It changed much of Superman lore, including making Lex a government agent and secret Kryptonian.

Hartnett would eventually turn down the role, which would pass to Matt Bomer, just before the studio pulled the plug on yet another attempt and the whole thing was canned.

Hartnett would again be considered for the role when George Millar was thinking about making a Justice League movie, and would also be a potential Batman in that same project. He would later turn down the role of Batman once again for Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins.

So a serial dodger of superhero movies. That doesn’t mean he didn’t test. Now some images have emerged of Hartnett in the famous suit, potentially from a screen test. Henry Cavill wore a version of Christopher Reeve’s old suit for his Man Of Steel tests. This appears to be a version of a vintage, George Reeves-era suit, hinting that maybe this was the design direction they would have taken for the movie.

The photo appeared online courtesy of filmmaker Ryan Unicomb’s Instagram.

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