There was a time when Steven Spielberg was just another director trying to make his way. Around the time when Jaws was being made, his reputation was only growing, and he was eyed for a nascent DCEU production – what would become 1978’s Superman. Unfortunately, the timing was off.
“Spielberg was really in the beginning, he absolutely wanted to make the film,” Ilya Salkind, producer on Superman, told Superman Homepage. Salkind recalls Spielberg’s representation being enthusiastic about taking on the project. This was the early ’70s, when Jaws was in production, and had Salkind got his way, the hot shot would’ve been contracted there an then, but his father, Alexander, wanted to see what Spielberg’s box-office prospects were.
As you likely know, they were great, so good they ostensibly created the summer blockbuster. The young Spielberg went to work from Jaws to Close Encounters of a Third Kind, and that’s where his dalliance with DC stopped. “I called [Spielberg’s] agent and the agent said [he wanted] to do Superman singing and dancing, which was really a very polite way of saying [no],” Salkind says. “I understood it immediately.”
As appealing as a Spielberg-directed Superman feature is, we should be glad history had other ideas. We got a classic science fiction movie, and one of the all-time great comic book films out of it.
Richard Donner would go on to direct Superman, starring the inimitable Christopher Reeve. The 1978 adventure movie is widely beloved, and considered a benchmark for capturing the magic of the last son of Krypton. Rumours have swirled over the years that we might get Spielberg on a DCEU movie, but it’s yet to happen.
Who knows, but at one point we were closer than you might think. Check out our guide to Aquaman 2 for what’s going on in the DC universe currently.