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Brendan Fraser calls J.J. Abrams' unproduced Superman script “Shakespeare in space”

Photo: Kevin Winter (Getty Images)

Once upon a time, let’s call it the early 2000s, Brendan Fraser was, thanks to The Mummy franchise, poised to be America’s next affable, charismatic action star. For one reason or another, this never happened. But, during that heyday, Fraser was offered the chance to audition for the role of the ultimate hero—Superman. This would have been a Brett Ratner-directed, J.J. Abrams-penned project tentatively titled Superman: Flyby that the world never got to see. But, as reported by /Film, Fraser has recently been heaping some pretty high praise on that unproduced script.

“That was a script J.J. Abrams wrote but it never got made. And it was freaking Shakespeare in space,” Fraser told SyFy. “It was so cool. It was worlds colliding and, it was really, really cool.” Unfortunately, the actor wasn’t more specific about which Shakespeare play the script resembled, though we’d like to imagine it as a cross-dressing comedy of errors a la Twelfth Night. Abrams previously gave some insight into what this script looked like during an interview with Empire, and it sounds like it certainly would have presaged the dour tone for which the DCU would soon be known.

The thing that I tried to emphasize in the story was that if the Kents found this boy, Kal-El, who had the power that he did, he would have most likely killed them both in short order. And the idea that these parents would see—if they were lucky to survive long enough—that they had to immediately begin teaching this kid to limit himself and to not be so fast, not be so strong, not be so powerful. The result of that, psychologically, would be fear of oneself, self-doubt and being ashamed of what you were capable of. Extrapolating that to adulthood became a fascinating psychological profile of someone who was not pretending to be Clark Kent, but who was Clark Kent. Who had become that kind of a character who is not able or willing to accept who he was and what his destiny was. The idea in the movie was that he became Superman because he realized he had to finally own his strength and what he’d always been.

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Of course, it’s always possible Fraser is looking back on the script with rose-colored glasses. At the time it was being shopped around, Ain’t It Cool News published a fairly scathing review of a leaked copy of the script, detailing everything wrong with Abram’s vision, including the fact that Lex Luthor has powers and can fly. Granted, this very same review also prophesies that the upcoming Ben Affleck Daredevil film “looks like another home run,” so take it all with a grain of salt.

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About the author

Dan Neilan

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Have Fun — Will Travel.