Despite DC characters consistently being on our screens since 1978 (well, since 1948 if you include the old black and white Superman serials), it’s taken Warner Brothers and the powers that be at DC Comics decades to get an actual DCEU up and running. The DCEU — DC Extended Universe — technically began with 2013’s Man of Steel, though the term is actually not even used internally. In fact, it was coined as a joke by Entertainment Weekly writer Keith Statkiewicz. The name quickly caught on with fans and the media as easy shorthand to differentiate the multimedia DC canon from Marvel’s MCU. DC confirmed to Vulture writer Abraham Riesman in 2017 that it still considers the name unofficial because, while the Marvel has its film and TV properties co-existing, DC’s exist as a multiverse — related but separate.
The DC cinematic universe also had a few false starts. The script for Batman v Superman existed as far back as 2002 and, in 2007, a poster for the film could even be spotted by eagle-eyed DC fans in the Warner Brothers film, I Am Legend. In the same year, director George Miller was set to begin filming Justice League Mortal in Australia but a combination of unsecured tax breaks and the Writers Guild strike put it on permanent hiatus. In the run-up to Man of Steel and BvS, the rumor mill was working overtime in anticipation, churning out a lot of outlandish predictions that — if true — could have thrown yet another spanner in the DCEU’s works.
15. AQUAMAN AND WONDER WOMAN ARE COUSINS
This rumor was so persistent in the build up to the release of Batman v Superman that some are still considering its merit to this day. Speculation points to the fact that Diana is connected to Zeus, who was the brother of Poseidon. From there you can see the other obvious possible connection between the King of the Seas and the God of the Seas that could exist in the DCEU.
This rumor, if proven true, would probably rub a lot of other fans up the wrong way, who would rather see the canon they know from the source material more accurately represented on screen. Plus, why does Wonder Woman need to be related to another Justice Leaguer? She can easily hold her own just as independently as the male team members can.
14. KRYPTON DOESN’T GET DESTROYED
Yikes, can you imagine the backlash if this one had turned out to be true? Believe or not, this major change to Superman’s origin story seemed far too close to actually becoming a reality in Man of Steel for comfort. The possible plot detail was confirmed in Entertainment Weekly‘s summer preview for the film: “That’s what pits [Superman] against General Zod.
“[A] Kryptonian tyrant who wants Clark to join him back on Krypton, which would mean abandoning his post as a defender of the weaklings of Earth.” This would have removed a key building block from the iconic superhero’s mythos. The tragedy of his past as an immigrant fleeing a destroyed homeland is fundamental grounding for the Man of Tomorrow, and knowing a whole planet of Kryptonians existed, would have tarnished his specialness.
13. SUPERMAN WILL BE ENTIRELY CGI
You know all that dodgy CGI that invaded Superman’s upper lip — and most of his body during some fight scenes — in Justice League? Well, at one point, a CGI version of the character was rumored to have been considered for Man of Steel — either “CG enhanced” or 100% digitally rendered. Given that we still wind up with poor digital effects in movies now, this would have been risky back in 2013.
This rumor also came attached to one that Watchmen star Matthew Goode was the “frontrunner” for the cape and tights. Given that Goode had worked with Zack Snyder before on a DC movie, you can see why this one had a shred of plausibility. Even after Henry Cavill was confirmed in the role, there was still unfounded speculation that he might only physically play Clark Kent, which would not have been welcomed by anybody.
12. LEX LUTHOR’S BACKSTORY AS A TATTOOED, TEEN THUG
Yes, that’s right: the smooth-talking, devious billionaire may have at one point had a less than upper class origin story grafted onto him for the DCEU. Being a character with such a long history, we’re used to seeing Lex go through different iterations on page and screen. Some focus on his tumultuous relationship with his father Lionel while others imagine he and Clark as childhood friends in Smallville.
But, an article from Latino Review detailed how a teenage Lex was “living on the streets” and was “initiated into a street gang,” such that he wound up taking charge, seemed like way too much of a dramatic change. “Lex Luthor is also into body art and has a detailed tattoo sleeve of the Metropolis skyline.” Wow, that truly is the worst version of him in the multiverse.
11. ZAC EFRON AS SUPERMAN
Though he may have lost some critical credibility for his repeated turns in frathouse comedies like Neighbours and Bad Grandpa, Zac Efron’s previous work in indie movies proves he’s not a bad actor by any stretch of the imagination. His High School Musical days also showed early on that he had Fred Astaire potential as an all-singing-all-dancing Hollywood powerhouse. But, does he have Superman potential? Hmm.
This rumor remains unverified so we’ll never really know whether or not Zac’s name was in the running to play the lead role in Man of Steel. Despite the actor being currently in very good shape (and unafraid of flaunting it), his boyish looks and smaller frame just don’t have the statuesque quality needed for Superman. He could possibly make a good Superboy, though.
10. GENERAL SAM LANE: A SUPERMAN-HATING VILLAIN
Those not well-versed in their DC or Arrowverse lore can be easily forgiven for not recognizing the General’s name. As the surname gives away, Sam Lane is the father of Lois (and her sister Lucy) and a high-ranking military officer. Rumors of his involvement in Man of Steel weren’t exactly farfetched but the importance that some seemed convinced this relatively minor DC character would have certainly was.
Though the General has acted as an antagonist in the comics before, even enlisting Lex Luthor for “Project 7734” that ultimately led to the destruction of New Krypton and a lot of Kandorian deaths, it would have been a bold move to make him a major villain in Man of Steel. Supposedly, he would have lead Earth’s defences against Zod in the film, before turning on Superman, fuelled by a growing hatred of aliens.
9. THE JUSTICE LEAGUE WORKS FOR THE GOVERNMENT
There were so many predictions and rumors surrounding Batman v Superman it was hard to separate fact from fiction before its release. After Man of Steel set the first building block for the DCEU, BvS was the first DC movie to properly join its interconnected universe. Given the Dawn of Justice remit in its title, many were convinced the team would be officially established by the movie’s third act.
Latino Review had a very specific prediction as to how this would happen. “At the end, Superman is living in exile, and the Justice League is a government approved superhero team.” Swap “exile” for “presumed dead” and the first part isn’t far off at all. But, having the League on the government payroll would have been far too close to S.H.I.E.L.D’s role in putting together the Avengers in the MCU.
8. LEX LUTHOR WILL KILL THE PRESIDENT
As well as being a streetwise ex-thug with a thing for body art, the other ridiculous rumors that were bandied about surrounding Batman v Superman‘s arch villain included sightings of his classic green and purple mech suit (which might have been fun to see) and a secret third act ploy to bring out an army of “anti-alien drones” should Doomsday fail.
The boldest plot prediction, however, was that Lex would hire assassin David Cain to kill the president and somehow pin the blame on Superman. In the comics, Cain trained Deadshot, Mad Dog and a young Bruce Wayne, as well as fathering future Batgirl, Cassandra. As cool as it would have been to see him, and this plan could have set up a Public Enemies storyline, it seems too outlandish — even for Lex.
7. SCOOT MCNAIRY CAST AS ROBIN
Since the franchise-killing Joel Schumacher days, the Boy Wonder’s presence in a DC movie seems to be as unwelcome as a present from Jared Leto on the Suicide Squad set. He was sort-of-but-not-really Batman’s sidekick in The Dark Knight Rises played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and was then reduced to a mere costume stand in Batman v Superman.
The decision to set BvS in a post-Death In The Family world made sense in conjunction with an older and (even more) cynical Batman. But, once Scoot McNairy’s casting in the film was announced, some were certain he’d be Bats’ similarly older sidekick, possibly even a Nightwing-esque character that had had a falling out with the Dark Knight. Luckily, Scoot played a vengeful ex-Wayne Enterprises employee. Let’s be clear Hollywood: No. More. Adult. Robins. Please.
6. GENERAL SAM LANE WILL CREATE METALLO
Where did the rumor mill’s obsession with General Sam Lane come from? In early 2011, a site called Movienewz reported a very detailed breakdown of the General’s supposed hand in bringing a classic Superman villain to life in Man of Steel based on unconfirmed sources. “The military view [Superman] as a potential threat to national security. They find Kryptonite […] and discover its radioactive elements can be harnessed as a near unlimited source of power […]
“The military, under the direction of General Sam Lane, uses Kryptonite to power an experimental cyborg super soldier named Metallo. He’s ultimately exploited as a weapon against Superman.” Given the Frankenstein’s monster plot we got concerning Lex Luthor and Doomsday in BvS, this doesn’t seem totally out there. But, would we have wanted to see a rehashing of The Incredible Hulk movie? Probably not.
5. KRISTEN STEWART AUDITIONED FOR LOIS LANE
Whisperings that the Twilight star read for the role of Superman’s love interest were initially spread by content marketer Gregory Littlely on social media, and then gained more credibility when they were backed up by New York Daily News. The outlet claimed she’d “passed” on the role because she wasn’t interested in getting involved in another huge franchise after Twilight.
The rumor was quickly shut down by one of her representatives though. “There are a number of fabricated stories circulating. The fact is that she has not met [with anyone] nor has she been approached for this film.” Widespread distaste for the Twilight movies would have made this hypothetical casting a divisive one, and while Kristen has since proven herself to be a great actress, it’s hard to picture her as the feisty Daily Planet reporter.
4. JIM GORDON IS DEAD
Alongside Alfred, Jim Gordon is a cornerstone figure in Batman mythology; providing a shoulder to cry on for a grieving orphan or stern words for a billionaire vigilante who’s crossed the line. It would be very hard for any launch of the DC cinematic universe to justify not including him in some capacity but some sources claimed, ahead of the release of Batman v Superman, that we might have been in danger of just that.
Some others postulated that the Commissioner had just retired, which would have been far more acceptable. But, a Jim Gordon-less DCEU would no doubt have felt like an important ingredient was missing to fans. Especially considering the character had already proven himself compelling enough to star in a successful TV series the year before the film came out.
3. LINDSAY LOHAN OFFERED A ROLE
Perhaps the most rage-baiting rumor that made its way around news outlets and message boards in the run-up to Man of Steel was that a certain, troubled young actress might be joining the burgeoning DCEU. Amid claims that Alice Eve, Rachel McAdams and Diane Kruger were being considered, TMZ threw Lindsay Lohan’s name into the mix too.
The role was supposedly one of Superman’s love interests, either his teenage sweetheart Lana Lang or Daily Planet colleague Lois Lane. Given TMZ‘s reputation for ruffling feathers with fabricated or exaggerated scandals, no-one should have taken this news seriously. Also, given Lindsay’s reputation, we’d have either gotten a Robert Downey Jr. comeback or a disastrous start to the DCEU. Still, knowing that Amy Adams ultimately landed the part, maybe redheads really were on the casting director’s list of desirables.
2. THE AMAZONS AND ATLANTIANS ARE KRYPTONIAN
As well as Aquaman, some fans were also pretty keen on linking Wonder Woman to Superman as well. The germ of this theory possibly stems from the urge to connect a diverse group characters living under one universe’s roof in a way that seems more logical. Making them all one big, superpowered family kind of wraps up the DCEU with a nice, neat bow for some.
As Nerdist reported in 2015, the theory predicted that it would be revealed in future DCEU movies that Kryptonians colonized several planets millions of years ago — including Earth, with Atlantis and Thymiscera being the last surviving. Though it’s not completely absurd, turning the fantasy elements that people love into sci-fi would mean the DCEU seeming like a less diverse world, and would’ve reduced Wonder Woman and Aquaman’s uniqueness.
1. MICHAEL SHANNON’S ZOD HAS FLIPPERS
Would this bizarre rumor have been hilarious to see in Batman v Superman? Absolutely. Would it have been good for the serious tone of the film? Absolutely not. In a movie that already stretched your suspension of disbelief to its limit, the idea of Oscar-nominated actor Michael Shannon brandishing flippers on screen would have no doubt been the last straw. Luckily, it was completely false.
This rumor was accidentally started by the actor himself in an interview with Vulture. “I was in costume, and I couldn’t use my fingers because in the sequel I have flippers instead of hands,” he casually mentioned, sending the Internet into a whirlwind of panic about the state of the deceased General’s body in the film. He later set the record straight in an interview with The Daily Beast, explaining the comment had been a joke.
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