Robert Downey Jr as Lex Luthor!?

Remember a few years back when McG was attached to direct the film that would become “Superman Returns”? (though at the time, McG’s movie had the working title “Flyby”)

Yeah?

Then you’ll also remember that most of the talk about that incarnation revolved around the filmmaker, and not, strangely enough, the actors he was considering for the main roles.

Sure, you might remember a couple of casting rumours – Ashton Kutcher as Superman, Rose Byrne as Lois Lane – but mostly you’ll remember McG’s time on ‘Superman’ because he was the guy that jumped ship from the film because the job would’ve required him to – get this – fly. The “Charlie’s Angels” helmer refuses to get into a plane- doesn’t matter how many vomit bags you’re supplying, he ain’t getting in that bird. So when Warners set their sights on Australia for the filming locale, it meant McG couldn’t direct – - his solo tugboat wouldn’t have arrived in time for the shoot.

The filmmaker, out plugging “This Mean’s War”, admits freely to The Playlist that he’s to blame for the movie not happening. McG says his fear of flying got him booted from the project and it was his personal “rock-bottom” moment.

Secondly, because we never heard much about who McG was looking at for Superman and his nemesis Lex Luthor, it’s interesting to hear who the filmmaker was considering for the main role and who was a ‘lock’ for the villain.

Henry Cavill may only be getting his shot at playing Superman now, thanks to Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel”, but it was McG who wanted him for the gig all those years ago.

“Ironically, we liked Henry Cavill a lot, but we hadn’t cast him yet”

But Lex Luthor, on the other hand, was cast.

“We had Robert Downey Jr. locked up to be Lex Luthor, which I think would have been extraordinary.”

Interesting choice. I’m sure he’d have done a fine job… but obviously Marvel would’ve then likely gone with another actor for their “Iron Man” movie as to not cross-pollinate the Marvel and DC film franchises. Or not. Still, Downey as Lex? Hmmm..

The Lex Luthor in the film would’ve been slightly different to the one we’ve seen on the cinema screen, or TV screen, before. He was actually Kryptonian, and wasn’t some corporate nut-job but a doctor employed by the C.I.A. Taking this into consideration, I guess it makes it easier to see how Downey would’ve worked.

I know there was some suggestion of Johnny Depp swayback playing Luthor, which might’ve been one of McG’s ideas, but again, not jumping through fire-rings to see that myself.

McG’s “Superman” script, you’ll recall, was written by a pre-”MI:3″ J.J Abrams. The piece was essentially a rejigged version of the origin tale – with the main details the same (though, for some reason, Abrams thought to make Jor-El a King and thus, Kal-El a Prince) and simply a couple of new fan-unfriendly twists. Kal-El is sent to Earth, the Kent’s find him and he meets Lois (though at college). The big bad was Ty-Zor, Kal-El’s cousin, who is hellbent on killing the Man of Steel (now a bonafide ‘Superman’ of the people) in line with a centuries-old civil war. It’s then Kyrptonian vs. Kyptonian. And.. well, hey! It doesn’t matter! We’ll never see it.

But back to Downey as Lex. Can you see it?