Superman: Red Son is a damn good comic. It’s an “Elseworlds” story (the DC equivalent of Marvel’s “What if…?”) about Superman had he landed in the Soviet Union instead Smallville, Kansas. It even features alternate versions of Batman, Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor, all of whom fit into the story’s U.S.S.R. setting in appropriate ways. Oh, and Kong: Skull Island director Jordan Vogt-Roberts pitched it as a movie to Warner Bros a while back.
This thread is giving me tangential pangs of what-could-have-been for the version of Red Son I pitched that will sadly never get made. Oy.— Jordan Vogt-Roberts (@VogtRoberts) June 27, 2017
That’s Vogt-Roberts in conversation with Mark Millar, author of said Superman story. The director then clarified what he meant when news outlets picked up the conversation as a piece of news (yeah, that’s kind of what we’re doing too, but different!) because the fact is, these sort of pitches happen all the time and there are dozens of superhero movie ideas floating around at any given moment.
Some of the stories out there make it seem like I was one of many pitching a take on something they want to make. That's not true.— Jordan Vogt-Roberts (@VogtRoberts) June 27, 2017
(Millar also confirmed to Den of Geek that DC is "just going through their back catalogue of big books and hoping to lure in good directors as opposed to any particular interest in developing Red Son.")
That’s pretty much the gist of it. Nothing ever came of the pitch, and we don’t know if there are even plans to make a film of that sort, though like many a tall tale in a movie bloggersphere, the story has since snowballed and taken on a life of its own. Who knows, maybe the folks at DC Films will get word of the enthusiasm for such a project and actually pursue it at some point. Stranger things have happened – if you recall, Deadpool only exists because someone leaked the concept footage – and with Batman v Superman already hinting at something of an alternate future, maybe a one-off or alternate timeline movie isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds.
In the film’s Injustice-inspired (k)nightmare sequence, Batman puts on a trench coat and goggles over his costume, which is not dissimilar to what he once wore in Grant Morrison’s Batman & Robin. So, since Batman wears a similarly goofy outfit in Red Son, there’s already some movie precedent:
Obviously a Red Son movie doesn’t make sense for a movie universe still trying to establish its identity, but with Superman supposedly coming back brighter in Justice League (eventually, I mean) and also facing down the meta-textual embodiment of comic book self-seriousness in print – I won’t spoil who, but you should really catch up on The Button! – the overall plan across various DC media seems to be making Supes bright and hopeful once more (TV’s Supergirl already has him nailed). Once that happens, and we’ve returned to a Superman who fights “for truth and justice*,” maybe then we can explore out-of-the-way alternatives, like a Superman who fights “a never-ending battle for Stalin, socialism, and the international expansion of the Warsaw Pact." You wouldn't even need Henry Cavill to play Superman, since... you know what, I'll omit that detail for those who haven't read it yet.
What do you folks think? Any other specific stories you’d like to see on screen? A Kingdom Come movie, or perhaps Batman of Zur-En-Arrh? Sound off in the comments below!
*The original 1938 Siegel and Schuster phrasing. The “American way” part of it has left and re-entered the various Superman canons (starting with the radio show) numerous times since 1942, depending on America’s political and military situation. Do what you will with that info!