Almost History: DC Universe’s ‘Metropolis’ Series

Feb 20, 2020

With DC Universe being more than a year old and having aired five well-received original series, you could say that the DC-focused streaming service is a success for Warner Brothers and AT&T. Though while DC Universe overall has a lot of hits, it also has a couple of misses, including two cancelled series. In this article I want to talk about one of these: ‘Metropolis.’

DC Universe’s ‘Metropolis,’ which was supposed to be released after ‘Titans,’ had a 13-episode straight-to-series order for a 2019 debut. But, Deadline reported that the series was going to be redeveloped on May 2nd, 2018. ‘Metropolis’ ended up being replaced by ‘Swamp Thing’ in the streaming service’s slate of originals (‘Swamp Thing’ was also cancelled, as we exclusively reported last June).

‘Metropolis’ was supposed to be a live-action series following the adventures of two of the most popular citizens of The City of Tomorrow, Lois Lane and Lex Luthor.

You can read the official synopsis below:

“’Metropolis’ will follow Lois Lane and Lex Luthor as they investigate the world of fringe science and expose the city’s dark and bizarre secrets. Airing exclusively on DC’s upcoming digital service, it promises to show us a wondrous and awe-inspiring City of Tomorrow, before the emergence of Superman, and establish much of the Man of Steel’s world leading up to his arrival.”

Having recently rediscovered this show, I decided to try and dig a little deeper than before and I managed to get some pretty interesting information: 

  • The series would have been a mix between FOX’s ‘Gotham’ and EPIX’s ‘Pennyworth.’ However, instead of being a spy-thriller like ‘Pennyworth,’ this show would have been a Superman-themed ‘The X-Files.’ The comparisons to ‘Gotham’ and ‘Pennyworth’ make sense, due to the heavy involvement that John Stephens and Danny Cannon had in all three of these shows.
  • ‘Metropolis’ was canceled so The CW’s ‘Superman & Lois’ series could replace it. The details of this decision are still being kept under wraps, though sources close to the industry have informed me that this decision was made by someone who’s very high up at Warner Bros. Television.
  • The show was actually going to feature Clark Kent, who would have been a supporting character in the series, with his superhero identity never being shown or even so much as hinted at.
  • Back in February 2018, we reported that ‘Metropolis’ would be shooting in New York between June and December. I have now learned that while that’s true, there’s more to the story. Shots of the city were going to be taken in New York, but studio shooting was going to be done in London.

This unmade DC Universe exclusive would have been overseen by ‘Gotham’ execs John Stephens and Danny Cannon. Both would have been executive producers on this series, and Cannon would also have directed the first episode from a teleplay by Stephens, with a story by the duo. The show reached the casting stage before WBTV cancelled it. Stephens and Cannon are now working on the second season of the Batman-prequel ‘Pennyworth,’ which is targeting a premiere later this year.

When ‘Metropolis’ was announced, the news was met with mixed reception. The main problem that fans had with the show is that it was to be a Superman prequel series without Superman. Some fans were also still content with The CW’s ‘Smallville’ series, which was also a Superman prequel, and didn’t see ‘Metropolis’ as necessary. However, there was also a lot of positive reactions to the concept of the show, with fans praising the fact that this show would have you look at a world with superheroes through the lens of normal citizens. Besides, who wouldn’t want a DC version of ‘The X-Files’?