Donner/Johns reveal Superman movie concept in “Action”

UPDATE: Check out exclusive page samples from Action Comics #844, the first Donner/Johns issue, at Entertainment Weekly.

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(10/3/2006) It is no secret that during the long interval between Superman IV: The Quest for Peace and Superman Returns, the fifth Superman movie went through a number of complete concept and creative team overhauls.

Not as well known is that during one of those periods of transition, prior to Bryan Singer’s involvement, Richard Donner and Geoff Johns pitched their idea for the next Superman movie to Warner Brothers.

It was rejected.

In an ironic twist, the movie that Warner Brothers ultimately made, Singer’s Superman Returns, was very much a tribute to Donner.

Despite Warner’s rejection, Donner and Johns held on to the concept. Though altered and enhanced to fit in with the comic book continuity, their core Superman movie plot idea will surface as their run on DC’s Action Comics Superman title begins later this month.

“Obviously, some of the elements have changed and evolved, but others were still there,” Johns told Newsarama yesterday.

“About two years ago, (we) started talking about doing a comic together. We started brainstorming about the story, but had the main throughline from the original movie pitch idea.”

The Donner/Johns pairing on Action Comics will also take the comic book characters, including Superman, in new, but familiar directions. “A lot of takes on characters will be coming from (Donner’s) films, but also, it also owes a lot to comic books, so it’s a mixture, really,” Johns said.

“Our Jimmy Olsen, for example, is a lot more in tune with the movies, but then again, the movies were in tune with the classic Jimmy Olsen. The same with Clark and Lois.” Johns went on to indicate that the Lois Lane of Action Comics will be a combination of the existing comic book version and Donner’s take on the character from Superman and his version of Superman II.

Johns also promises “a lot of the classic Superman villains done in a different way” as Action Comics proceeds forward into various story arcs.

View the complete Newarama article, which also includes an alternate cover shot.

Without the restrictions of special effects budgets, casting issues, studio interference, and the myriad of other challenges that movies present, Action Comics may prove to be the ideal presentation of Donner’s Superman plots.

The first Donner/Johns storyline begins in Action Comics #844.