Despite being one of the greatest super-heroes ever created, Superman hasn’t exactly had a lot of luck with video games. His most famous outing in the field, Superman 64, is commonly regarded as the single worst game of the N64 era, and considering a few of the other titles that got the Nintendo Seal of Quality, that’s saying something.
But perhaps his worst bit of luck came when a game developed by Factor 5 (the studio behind the critically acclaimed Rogue Squadron) was canceled when their publisher shut down in 2009. While we may never know if the game itself would be good, the art from lead character artist Daveed Kaplan — uncovered over at MTV Geek by Charles Webb — shows that if nothing else, it probably would’ve looked cool. Check out the designs for the Man of Steel and some of his greatest villains after the jump!
First up, of course, was Superman himself:
Superman’s sporting his classic costume — trunks and all! — with the only major difference to his usual look being the shield, which is is styled more along the lines of the Superman Returns movie than the one featured in the comics of the time. That’s not really a surprise, considering that the game was in development only two years after Returns hit theaters.
It’s also worth noting that while Superman’s pose in this picture is the standard position for doing turnarounds and showing off the costume, I really, really wish that it was how he’d look while flying in the game. Seriously, developers: You make a game where Superman just awkwardly hovers in the sky like Criss Angel, and I’ll buy two.
Also pretending to be an airplane is Superman’s old foe Darkseid:
Much like Jim Lee would later do with his post-New 52 redesign of Jack Kirby’s classic villain, Kaplan ditched Darkseid’s fashionable and intimidating skirt in favor of what appears to be a pair of ribbed sweatpants. Darkseid’s also given a more armored look, and while it almost makes it look like he’s cosplaying as 50 Cent from Blood on the Sand, I don’t really dislike it.
That said, I vastly prefer his version of Kalibak:
While he’s not quite as hulking as Kirby’s Kalibak, I really like what Kaplan did with this one. Much like Arkham Asylum redesigned Batman’s villains in order to emphasize their grittier aspects, the goal with these seems to be to amp up the sci-fi elements of Superman, which is a pretty neat way to go about it.
Especially if it’s going to involve a bunch of aliens like Darkseid, Kalibak, and The Phantom Zone Criminals, General Zod and Non:
Because really, where would we be without a reference to Superman II in every possible media outlet? Unlike the more complex Fourth World costumes of Darkseid and Kalibak, the Kryptonians — at least in these early versions — seem to have more simplified designs that reflect how they looked in the movies. Kaplan’s clearly gone straight to Terence Stamp for Zod’s face, and it works pretty well.
Lex Luthor, however, has all kinds of stuff going on:
It’d be interesting to see if Lex’s armor was blue because of a plot point in the game, or if it was just the color Kaplan was working with before touching it up with the character’s usual green and purple look. Considering that the game was called “Blue Steel,” I’m guessing it’s the former. Well, either that or the surprise twist that Superman had to battle against Derek Zoolander’s signature look.
For more, check out Kaplan’s website!