In an exclusive story from Collider Michael B. Jordan and his production company, Outlier Society are developing their own Black Superman project for HBO Max that centers on the Val-Zod incarnation of the character. A writer is currently working on a script for a Val-Zod limited series, according to sources.
Jordan and his company have pitched to Warner Bros. a movie or limited series about Val-Zod Superman an original character from Earth 2 in the comics. In the comic rendition of the character was raised a pacifist hating violence. He also was hidden from the outside world and became a recluse even fearing contact with the rest of society. He hid the fact that he was a Kryptonian from the world till he was discovered. Suffering a panic attack after being freed, Val revealed that he spent most of his life on a capsule, thus he was afraid of open spaces.
It is not known if they will use Val-Zod’s phobias storyline to become Superman or the writer will go in another direction with the story completely. It is not known who the writer is at this time. Though it was initially unclear whether the Val-Zod project would be a movie or a limited series, sources have since reached out to clarify that as of right now, it is, in fact, being written as a limited series that Jordan will produce and possibly even star in, though he has yet to officially commit to the role as Val-Zod.
The project seems in conflict with the, previously reported, J.J. Abrams company Bad Robot that is set to produce a Black Superman movie for Warner Bros. that is expected to follow the Kal-El/Clark Kent version of the character. Though Clark Kent is traditionally depicted as white in the DC comics, the character will be played by a Black actor in the Bad Robot movie, which will likely be directed by a Black filmmaker, as Abrams is simply expected to produce. Author and cultural critic Ta-Nehisi Coates is already hard at work on the script for that project.
Jordan has shown interest in a Superman movie. Jordan did work with Warner Bros. on developing a Black Superman movie at one point, he recently shot down rumors that he would star in Abrams’ new film, saying “I’m flattered that people have me in that conversation. It’s definitely a compliment, but I’m just watching on this one.”
In a recent editorial by Jamie Broadnax for Black Girl Nerds sources told her that “Jordan has not wanted to engage in conversations about racebending Kal-El for the same reasons many of the fans are pushing back on the current Warner Bros. re-imagined version of Clark Kent, but that he would be interested in engaging on a Black Superman project centering on the Val-Zod storyline.”
This is an important distinction, particularly within the Black community, as Broadnax explained how it would be tone-deaf of Warner Bros. and DC to ‘racebend a white character and erase Black characters that already exist in the DC universe under the Superman banner — Calvin Ellis and Val-Zod.’
The point is there are two perfectly good Black Supermen, why would Abrams’ big-budget Black Superman movie follow the white version of the character? Is it simply because Clark Kent is better known within the realm of pop culture? We may never know the answer, but what is clear is that Jordan wasn’t into that idea, and now he’s developing his own Superman project, for WB’s streaming channel, HBO Max.