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We Apparently Could Have Gotten The Live-Action Feature Debut Of Brainiac In Man Of Steel 2

Henry Cavill's tenure as Superman saw numerous iconic villains enter the fold and hit the big screen in a major way. From General Zod (Michael Shannon) to Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) and even Doomsday, the DC Extended Universe never shied away from having the Man of Tomorrow face off against some of his most legendary bad guys. Of course, now that the DCU is looking to take Superman in a new direction, it's worth wondering what other villains Cavill's Superman could have taken on if he had stayed in the role a bit longer.

As it turns out, new reports have surfaced suggesting that if "Man of Steel 2" had ever materialized with Cavill in the role, it would have seen the titular red and blue-clad hero do battle against his most intelligent foe: Brainiac, a rogue Kryptonian artificial intelligence who has become one of Superman's most legendary villains throughout his run in the comics, TV shows, and more. 

Moreover, this would've marked the first-ever appearance of Brainiac in a live-action feature film. Here is what ultimately happened.

The ill-fated Man of Steel 2 reportedly had Brainiac set as the main villain

Much has been said about the fallout of the recent developments at DC concerning the creative direction of the film slate. One of the key changes is the fact that Henry Cavill is officially out as the DCU's Superman. However, this follows a recent swell of fan enthusiasm for the character to return to the big screen after his cameo appearance in "Black Adam" during a post-credit scene seemingly setting up a potential Superman vs. Black Adam movie somewhere down the line.

It now turns out that there were at one point plans to keep Cavill's Superman in the spotlight and put him up against one of his most iconic foes. Per THR, a new report suggests that Warner Bros. executives Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy were working on the development of a "Man of Steel" sequel prior to Cavill's departure. This ill-fated sequel reportedly would've been written by Steven Knight and would've seen Superman go head-to-head against Brainiac.

However, with Henry Cavill now officially out as Superman, "Man of Steel 2" now looks all but dead. Even if Brainiac ends up in the upcoming Superman reboot penned by James Gunn, it will be its own new storyline free from the Cavill continuity.

Brainiac was a possible Man of Steel 2 villain as far back as Zack Snyder's involvement in the project

The fact that Brainiac may have been the planned villain for the long-anticipated follow-up to "Man of Steel" may not come as a surprise to some fans. In fact, the villain had been considered a possibility for the sequel for a long time. During the press tour for his Netflix film "Army of the Dead," Zack Snyder even went so far as to confirm (via Post-Credits Podcast) that Brainiac was pitched as the potential main bad guy for "Man of Steel 2" back when he was attached to the direction of Superman in the DCEU.

When asked about which villain he wanted to bring into the DCEU fold, Snyder directly addressed the possibility of bringing Brainiac in for the sequel. Specifically, the director said point-blank, "We talked about a Brainiac movie." Of course, "Man of Steel 2" never got beyond the development phase, which means no firm plans were ever put into motion. 

In addition to the possibility of a Brainiac-focused movie, Snyder also admitted that he toyed with the possibility of including the surviving Kryptonians who were defeated at the end of "Man of Steel." This means that Brainiac was a possible villain but not the only option on the table for them when "Man of Steel 2" was still in the works.

Brainiac has appeared in live-action before, but never on the big screen

The inclusion of Brainiac in "Man of Steel 2" would represent a notable milestone for the character. Specifically, his incorporation into the sequel would mark his first-ever appearance in a live-action feature film — unlike characters such as Zod and Lex Luthor, who have had many incarnations and iterations over the years.

However, while Brainiac has never appeared in a film adaptation of Superman, he has appeared in live-action on the small screen. In fact, the character had a role in major storylines in both "Smallville" and "Krypton." In "Smallville," the character was portrayed by James Marsters, and in the universe of the show had a hand in the destruction of Superman's home world. In "Krypton," the character was portrayed by Blake Ritson and featured a much more comic-accurate appearance. Though the "Krypton" version was much closer to the source material than anything seen before, it is easy to assume that a feature film budget would've made the "Man of Steel 2" version of Brainiac even more comic-accurate and even more terrifying.