A tantalizing new clue suggests director Zack Snyder's Man of Steel may not have its roots in 2009's Superman: Secret Origin -- DC Comics' current canonical origin story -- but rather in 2003's Superman: Birthright.
Bleeding Cool discovered a plot synopsis on Baseline Studio System, a comprehensive (and apparently reliable) database for television and movie projects in development, that hews close to that 12-issue miniseries by Mark Waid and Leinil Francis Yu: "A young reporter named Clark Kent roams the world covering various news stories. When he is compelled to use his secret powers to intervene in a crisis in West Africa, he returns to Smallville to learn more about his origins and the hero he was born to be."
As Collider notes, it's virtually identical to a logline that surfaced last fall as part of a character breakdown sent to casting agencies. Bleeding Cool's Brendon Connelly contends it's likely that Warner Bros. registered details of the Superman reboot, "most likely with casting services who fed it to Baseline, somehow, but have since decided to play coy."
If the plot synopsis is indeed accurate, and not a mistake or a bit of misdirection, it certainly follows Diane Lane's recent comment that Man of Steel will "cover the entire range of years, from infancy on."
Debuting in 2003, Birthright replaced John Byrne's 1986 miniseries The Man of Steel as DC's official origin story -- at least until Birthright itself was replaced in 2009 by Superman: Secret Origin. It served to update the character, casting Clark Kent as a young freelance reporter covering an ethnic conflict in West Africa who, after using his powers, returns to Smallville to learn about his Kryptonian heritage. That much the Baseline synopsis has. From there, Clark adopts his civilian disguise and moves to Metropolis where he lands a job at the Daily Planet. He also comes into conflict with Lex Luthor -- who's revealed to have a history with Clark -- and an apparent Kryptonian invasion force.
If the plot of Man of Steel does borrow heavily from Birthright, we're left to wonder how Michael Shannon's General Zod (and possibly Faora) fits in -- maybe he's the leader of an actual Kryptonian invasion? -- and who might be cast as Luthor. Of course, Snyder has said that the movie “will not be based on a comic book in particular,” so perhaps Birthright is merely a starting point.
Man of Steel, which so far stars Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane and Kevin Costner, is written by David S. Goyer from a story by Goyer and producer Christopher Nolan. Charles Rovan, Emma Thomas and Deborah Snyder also are producing. Thomas Tull and Lloyd Phillips are executive producers. Filming is expected to begin this summer for a December 2012 release.