With his 1978 film Superman starring Christopher Reeve returning to theaters to celebrate its 40th anniversary this year, director Richard Donner recently discussed his plans to included Brainiac as one of the villains in his version of Superman III if he had continued to work on Superman films.
After directing Superman: The Movie in 1978, Donner was famously fired during the production of Superman II. Donner also talked about how he and creative consultant Tom Mankiewicz planned to share creative duties on the Superman films.
"I felt there was a different way of approaching it, but the intellect of Brainiac was very exciting," Donner said in an interview with RetroFan Magazine featured on 13th Dimension."There was a little bit of Brainiac that was going to be in it... Tom 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 [Superman 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."
Donner said that he would have welcomed trying to approach one of Superman’s greatest adversaries in his own unique way, but he never got the chance to offer his take on the iconic villain.
Donner's public disputes with producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind resulted in Donner being replaced by director Richard Lester for Superman II. Lester ultimately rewrote, reshot or otherwise changed most of the footage that Donner filmed before his dismissal. Mankiewicz also declined to return to the sequel, out of respect to his relationship with Donner.
In Richard Lester's Superman III, Christopher Reeve's Superman ended up helped Richard Pryor's clueless hacker Gus Gorman and dealt with villainous industrialists and an evil supercomputer.
Brainiac, the famous hyper-intelligent Coluan infamously known for shrinking and stealing the Kryptonian capital city of Kandor, was a villain in many Superman scripts that never made it to the big screen.
Brainiac appeared on Kevin Smith and Tim Burton's respective scripts for Superman Reborn and Superman Lives, which once had Burton attached to direct and Nicholas Cage set to portray Superman in the 1990s. The hyper-intelligent villain also was set to appear in Bryan Singer’s sequel to Superman Returns, but all of these projects were eventually abandoned by Warner Bros.
In 2006, a re-edited version of Donner’s Directors Cut of Superman II was released, and Donner teamed up with writer Geoff Johns, his former assistant, and artist Adam Kubert on “Last Son” and “Escape from Bizarro World” for Action Comics.
Donner's most recent contribution to Superman history was another story that he co-wrote with Johns, titled "The Car" for Action Comics #1000, which was released in April 2018.