Superman V: Reborn was a tentative and ultimately unproduced sequel to Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.
Before the box-office failure of Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, Cannon Films were considering producing a fifth Superman film with Albert Pyun directing. Cannon's bankruptcy resulted in the character's film rights returning to Ilya and Alexander Salkind. The studio selected Superman's death as the storyline for the film, and Jon Peters came in as producer, following the success of 1989's Batman.
Ilya Salkind wrote a story for Superman V with Superboy series writers Cary Bates and Mark Jones in the early-1990s. The story involved Superman dying and subsequently being resurrected in the shrunken, bottled Kryptonian city of Kandor. The premise of Superman's death and rebirth coincidentally predated the famous "The Death of Superman" comic where Superman was killed by Doomsday. Salkind, Bates and Jones developed two drafts of the script, with the late Christopher Reeve set to reprise the title role.
In the first draft script, Clark Kent is still unable to admit his feelings for the woman he loves, Lois Lane. Before he is able to resolve those feelings with her, Brainiac appears to challenge him. The two fight to their respective deaths. As Superman dies in Lois' arms, he finally confesses his feelings to her. Unbeknownst to either of them, this final confession not only releases his soul from his body, but said soul enters the body of Lois. She soon discovers that she is pregnant with Superman's child. Days later, the child is born and within the span of three weeks, he grows into the body of a 21-year-old man. As Lois is killed in the middle of the film, the new-born assumes his birthright as the new Superman and defeats Brainiac, saving the world.
A rewrite used the story Still using the The Death of Superman story as its basis. In the script, Brainiac was responsible for the destruction of Krypton. He is now on his way to Earth to destroy the last Kryptonian once and for all. On Earth, Clark Kent is on the verge of a nervous breakdown as he is unable to cope with his dual-identity as reporter and superhero. He visits a psychoanalyst to discuss these feelings, as well as those he has for Lois Lane. Brainiac makes his way to Metropolis and unleashes his genetic creation, Doomsday (who, in this draft has kryptonite-laced blood), upon the public. This naturally draws out Superman and the two battle to the death.
Brainiac has won, and the last Kryptonian is dead. After Superman's funeral, Brainiac attempts to steal his body, recognizing it as valuable genetic material. However, his plan is thwarted by the rogue government agency Project Cadmus, who take the body first in hopes of either reviving it or cloning it. During this time, Superman's spirit is shown taking a spiritual journey through the afterlife. At the end of his journey, he concludes that his work on Earth is not yet done and the spirit returns to its body. Resurrected, but powerless, Superman travels to Metropolis to fight Brainiac with the aid of Cadmus. Through the sheer force of his own will, Superman regains his powers and defeats Brainiac, giving him both a sense of closure and security for the world.
- The idea of include Brainiac as the main antagonist of a Superman film was previously thought for Superman III, but at the final, he was replaced by the Ultimate Computer of Ross Webster.
- The project's script was later rewritten by Jonatham Lemkin but as Superman Reborn.
- The idea of include Doomsday in a Superman film was later included in the Superman/Batman film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
- Curiously, one of the inspirations for this film was The Death of Superman comic book storyline.
- The Death of Superman was finally adapted in a movie in 2007 as the animated direct-to-video feature-lenght film Superman Doomsday.
- Many Superman fans confuse this cancelled movie with Bryan Singer's Superman Returns.