Superman: Flyby is the title for a canceled Superman movie intended for production during the 2000s.
Turning in his script in July 2002, J. J. Abrams' Superman: Flyby was an origin story that included Krypton besieged by a civil war between Jor-El and his corrupt brother, Kata-Zor. Before Kata-Zor sentences Jor-El to prison, Kal-El is launched to Earth to fulfill a prophecy. Adopted by Jonathan and Martha Kent, he forms a romance with Lois Lane in the Daily Planet. However, Lois is more concerned with exposing Lex Luthor, written as a government agent obsessed with UFO phenomena. Clark reveals himself to the world as Superman, bringing Kata-Zor’s son, Ty-Zor, and three other Kryptonians to Earth. Superman is defeated and killed, and visits Jor-El (who committed suicide on Krypton while in prison) in Kryptonian heaven. Resurrected, he returns to Earth and defeats the four Kryptonians, while the script ends with Superman off to Krypton, leaving a cliffhanger for a sequel.
Brett Ratner was hired to direct in September 2002, originally expressing an interest in casting an unknown for the lead role, while filming was to start sometime in late 2003. Ratner approached Josh Hartnett and Jude Law as Superman, but conceded that finding a famous actor for the title role had proven difficult because of contractual obligations to appear in sequels. "No star wants to sign that, but as much as I've told Jude and Josh my vision for the movie, I've warned them of the consequences of being Superman. They'll live this character for 10 years because I'm telling one story over three movies and plan to direct all three if the first is as successful as everyone suspects." Hartnett was offered $100 million for a three-picture deal, but turned down the offer. Although Superman: Flyby was being met with a budget exceeding $200 million (not including money spent on Superman Reborn, Superman Lives and Batman vs. Superman), the studio was still adamant for a summer 2004 release date. Christopher Walken was in negotiations for Perry White, while Ratner expressed an interest in casting Anthony Hopkins as Jor-El, and Ralph Fiennes as Lex Luthor (two of his cast members in Red Dragon).
Christopher Reeve was to be a project consultant, citing Tom Welling, who portrayed the teenage Clark Kent in Smallville as an ideal candidate. Reeve added "the character is more important than the actor who plays him, because it is an enduring mythology. It definitely should be an unknown." In addition Paul Walker was offered the role, while Ashton Kutcher screen tested and Brendan Fraser and Matthew Bomer auditioned. Kutcher decided not to accept the role, citing scheduling conflicts with That '70s Show and the Superman curse, as well as typecasting. Jerry O'Connell expressed interest for the role, while David Boreanaz auditioned, but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts with Angel. Victor Webster did an entire screentest that included wardrobe as both Clark Kent and Superman, while James Marsden met with director Brett Ratner. Joel Edgerton (who turned down the chance to audition as Superman) auditioned for Ty-Zor, before Ratner dropped out of the project in March 2003, blaming casting difficulties, and violent disagreements with Jon Peters.
McG returned as director, while Fraser expressed interest, but had fears of typecasting. Selma Blair was in talks for Lois Lane, while ESC Entertainment was hired for visual effects work, with Kim Libreri as visual effects supervisor and Stan Winston designing a certain "prototype suit". McG approached Shia LaBeouf for Jimmy Olsen, with an interest to cast an unknown for Superman, Scarlett Johansson as Lois Lane and Johnny Depp for Lex Luthor. Neal H. Moritz and Gilbert Adler were set to produce the film. McG also commissioned Josh Schwartz to rewrite the Abrams script. He wanted to shoot in Canada, which would have cost $25 million more than WB's preferred Australian locale. McG also shot test footage with several candidates, including Jason Behr, Henry Cavill, Jared Padalecki and Michael Cassidy before dropping, blaming budgetary concerns and filming locations. He opted to shoot in New York City and Canada, but Warner Bros. wanted Sydney, Australia. McG felt "it was inappropriate to try to capture the heart of America on another continent." He later admitted it was his fear of flying. Abrams lobbied for the chance to direct his script, but Warner Bros. replaced McG with Bryan Singer in July 2004, resulting in Superman Returns.