The Superman franchise generated so many false starts and development deals in the decade or so before Superman Returns dropped in 2006 that we've got no shortage of interesting "What Might Have Been" scenarios to ponder. For proof, just check out who McG wanted for Lex Luthor in his almost-movie Superman: Flyby.
Flyby, written by J.J. Abrams, was the last dead Superman project before Bryan Singer got Returns off the ground. It would have featured some hefty changes to the Superman mythos and some new twists on old characters. Perhaps in the spirit of those new twists, McG selected for his Luthor none other than the future Tony Stark, Robert Downey Jr.
"We had Robert Downey Jr. locked up to be Lex Luthor, which I think would have been extraordinary," McG said in an interview with The Playlist.
Take a minute and wrap your head around that. Think about Downey as cooler-than-cool, wisecracking Tony Stark, then place that in the context of a mad genius like Luthor.
No, you're not thinking about that. You're thinking about Downey bald, aren't you? Given that this was a new version of Luthor, there's no guarantee the bald thing would've happened. But still, it makes your head hurt trying to picture it, right?
In the end, the flick fell apart when McG left the project rather than having to face a fear of flying that would've made shooting Superman taking to the sky rather difficult. But apparently there's at least one thing about his project that we can't write off as something that'll never happen. When it came time to cast Superman himself, McG said he had a very familiar name in mind.
"Ironically, we liked Henry Cavill a lot, but we hadn't cast him yet."