It’s been eight years since Zack Snyder released Man of Steel. While it gave way to films like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016 and Justice League in 2017 and 2021, there has never been a full sequel to Man of Steel, and there very likely never will be, with Snyder done at DC and Warner Bros. and a new Superman movie in development with J.J. Abrams.
Still, that hasn’t stopped Snyder from talking about his superhero roads never traveled. In a new interview, the filmmaker reveals one classic villain from Superman’s rogues gallery who would have featured in the sequel to Man of Steel.
What Happened? — On the May 10 episode of the podcast Post-Credit Podcast hosted by Brandon Katz and Eric Italiano, Zack Snyder was featured as a guest to promote his new zombie action movie Army of the Dead on Netflix. When the podcast hosts asked Snyder which villains he would have introduced in a sequel to Man of Steel, Snyder mentioned one by name.
“We talked about a Brainiac movie,” Snyder said.
Snyder doesn’t really elaborate, instead choosing to talk more about the rogue Kryptonians from the first (and only) Man of Steel. “I do think that the Kryptonians that are in the Phantom Zone are probably still around. And there was always a possibility for their return,” he said. “That was a thing that was always out there that we talked about as a possible sequel.”
Snyder added that he felt alien antagonists were always best for a character like Superman, except for Lex Luthor. “I just think it’s best to give Superman these extraterrestrial challenges because I think you’ve got to be careful with ... I think you really have to look outside of the Earth for challenges for him because of how powerful he is.”
Who is Brainiac? — Just because Brainiac isn’t appearing in a Man of Steel sequel doesn’t mean he’s never going to appear in a DC movie. Created in 1958 by Otto Binder and Al Plastino, Brainiac is an alien cyborg who has long been one of Superman’s greatest foes. Brainiac’s big thing is “collecting” entire cities, like the Kryptonian capital of Kandor, by shrinking them and keeping them for his own.
Despite his long history in DC media, including animated films, video games (recently as a playable character and final boss in Injustice 2), and TV shows like Superman: The Animated Series, Justice League, and the live-action Smallville and Krypton, Brainiac has never been in a live-action movie.
Brainiac was almost the villain of Superman III in 1983, as writer Ilya Salkind wrote Brainiac as the antagonist in an early draft before he was cut. He was also going to be the villain in the aborted Superman Lives in the 1990s, which would have starred Nicholas Cage as Superman. Disgraced director Bryan Singer hoped to use Brainiac in his own sequel, Superman: The Man of Steel, a follow-up to his 2006 film Superman Returns, but that movie was canceled too.
And now, we know Snyder maybe would have brought Brainiac to the big screen, but that too wasn’t meant to be. In spite of his powers as a sinister genius, Brainiac has never successfully plotted his way onto a movie.
The Inverse Analysis — No matter what movie Snyder directs from here, he will always generate headlines with his plans for the DCEU. But Brainiac as the villain of Man of Steel 2 only makes logical sense. He’s a major villain of significant importance in Superman canon who somehow hasn’t appeared in a live-action film. It’s always Lex Luthor or Zod in these things.
With the future of Superman in a state of flux, and new creatives behind the wheel, maybe Brainiac will still find a way to the DCEU.
Man of Steel is streaming now on HBO Max.