For years, fans have known that before X-Men director Bryan Singer took on Superman Returns, the movie was almost made by Charlie's Angels director McG. Joseph McGinty Nichol, who also served as an executive producer on The OC, joined Rachel Bilson and Melinda Clarke on their YouTube series Welcome to the OC, Bitches, and shared a story that shows he was literally about to get on a plane to make his version of a Superman movie when it all fell apart, and he was fired from the project. McG's verison of the film would have been written by J.J. Abrams and has popped up online in the form of a screenplay titled Superman: Flyby.
McG opened up with Bilson and Clarke about his mental health, which was a key factor in leaving the Man of Steel behind after years in development hell. Ironically for a man about to make a Superman film, McG apparently had a deep fear of flying.
"So I'm going to make the Superman movie and I'm getting ready to go, and they're like, "We're going to Australia, we're going ot Australia,'" McG recalled. "I literally remember telling the bosses at WB at that time, 'I can't go to Australia. I'm afraid of flying, I can't do it.' And it didn't even register [with them]. They're like, 'You're McG, you'll be fine. You're the boisterous, happy guy. You're bouncing off the walls. You'll be fine.' Anyway, the plane's on the tarmac -- the Warners private jet meant to take me to Australia -- and I can't get on. I get fired off of Superman -- rightfully so; they've got ot make the movie in Australia. They put Bryan Singer on the movie."
His recollection of them moving straight to Singer isn't quite right; after McG exited the project, Brett Ratner was briefly considered for Superman Returns. In a twist of fate, Ratner left Superman and Bryan Singer left the X-Men franchise, leaving openings for Singer to take on Superman Returns and Ratner to helm X-Men: The Last Stand.
McG, meanwhile, told Bilson and Clarke that the success of The OC at the time helped to take his mind off the disappointment of the Superman fiasco, noting that the show was really heating up just as the Superman gig fell apart, providing the director with a sense of accomplishment and a boost to his reputation in spite of the failed attempt at Flyby.
A number of notable actors suited up in the Superman costume for Flyby screen tests, including Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice star Henry Cavill, making the Abrams-written script one of the most tantalizing never-produced superhero movies out there.