The behind the scenes upheaval that plagued Christopher Reeves Superman films is legendary to fans. Though Richard Donner helmed 1978’s classic Superman: The Movie and made it a barnstorming success, the producers fell out with him during production on Superman II, causing him to be replaced by Richard Lester and making the final cut of the sequel something of a blend between Donner’s style and Lester’s more light-hearted approach.
Lester was retained for Superman III as well, which everyone agrees is far inferior to the two movies that came before, probably due to the absence of Donner and his screenwriting partner Tom Mankiewicz. And now, in a recent interview, Donner’s revealed what he would have done in the third film and it definitely sounds a whole lot better than what we got. In short, he would’ve introduced one of the Man of Steel’s greatest enemies, Brainiac, to the screen,
When asked what villain he would’ve liked to adapt, Donner told 13th Dimension the following:
“Well, Brainiac. There was a little bit of Brainiac that was going to be in it, but no. [Writer] Tom [Mankiewicz] and I had some really great thoughts. Because he was also a good director. And what we were going to do was, we would write the next one [II] and I would direct that, and we’d do the third one and Tom would direct that. And so on, for as long as it lasted. But the producers [Alexander and Ilya Salkind] didn’t see our relationship to the films as we did, so I was not brought back.”
Brainiac has since made his way to live-action, thanks to Smallville (where he was played by Buffy‘s James Marsters) and the more recent Krypton (in which he’s portrayed very faithfully to the comics by Blake Ritson). However, the planet-collecting android has yet to appear on the silver screen. But he could have done so decades ago, if Donner had got his wish. To the filmmaker, Brainiac’s superior intellect is what fascinated him.
“Well, [Brainiac was] one of the villains [I wanted to tackle], yes. I mean, I felt there was a different way of approaching it, but the intellect of Brainiac was very exciting.”
Reports have said that Brainiac might finally make his cinematic debut soon in a Supergirl movie, which is in the earliest stages of development. And though that remains to be confirmed, we’ll certainly let you know if any further info on the Superman foe’s on-screen future comes to light.