Before Henry Cavill and Brandon Routh, Jude Law was in talks to become the Man of Steel.
That's no joke. Around 13 years ago or so, in 2002—a time when superhero movies were just starting to gain their footing—writer/director J.J. Abrams had penned a script for a Superman origin reboot titled Superman: Flyby with Brett Ratner attached to direct. The project obviously fell through.
If you're interested, Abrams' full script for the film is available to read freely online. As for who Abrams/Ratner wanted to play Kal-El? Jude Law was one of several young men approached for the role, and the actor recently opened up about the experience of almost being Superman to MTV News.
For those of you outside the US, you might not be able to watch the above video, so here are some choice quotes:
I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life being that guy who played Superman. If you ever get caught smoking [a cigarette] and you’re Superman then you ruin the lives of all the children around the world.
Jude Law did try on the costume though, despite his reluctance:
I go in the bathroom, put it on and look in the mirror, and suddenly, I am Superman. And it is an amazing costume. My chest pops up and the music comes on… That was it. I got it out of my system. I took it off, put it in the bag, and was like, ‘I’m not going to do it.’ I saw myself. No need for the rest of the world to see me.
Back in 2013, a significant amount of Superman: Flyby production photos and concept art had leaked online, including images of Brandon Routh's and Henry Cavill's screen tests. We also got a fairly good look at what the Superman suit would have looked like back then. In case you missed it:
That's likely the costume Jude Law had talked about during the interview. Unfortunately no photos exist of the actor actually wearing it, but can you imagine what he'd look like? Jude Law, circa 2002-2003, sort of had that classic fresh faced, square-jawed Superman aesthetic:
The concept art for Flyby also depicted a much more lithe Superman than previous incarnations as well; definitely a build that would have been attainable on Jude Law's slender frame.
He also had the acting chops to pull off the role of both Clark and Kal-El, with his talents showcased in such films as Gattaca (1997), eXistenZ (1999), The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), and Enemy at the Gates (2001) leading up to 2002. He also was (and still is) certainly a far better actor than Ashton Kutcher or Josh Hartnett—two other actors up for the role at the time. Hartnett or Kutcher as Superman? Yikes.
In some other alternate universe, I think Jude Law would have made a great Superman.
But, in the end, I'm glad Superman: Flyby never came to fruition. Brett Ratner isn't exactly known for making stellar films, and while the script was written by J.J. Abrams, the project seemingly had disaster written all over it due to creative tension between the studio and pretty much everyone involved.
What do you think though? Wish Superman: Flyby was released instead of Superman Returns? Think it would have been better than Man of Steel? Would Jude Law have out-shined Cavill or Routh as Superman? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!