Of all the “What If…?” movie concepts that wound up being dumped into Hollywood’s proverbial landfill, Tim Burton’s Superman Lives might be the one I’m most fascinated by.
It’s not that I’m under any delusions that it would have been a faithful adaptation — I’m just unbelievably intrigued by what seems to be a total disregard for everything that came before it and how bold a revision Burton intended on giving the Superman mythology.
I still remember my reaction when I read that Burton was going to direct the film and that Nicolas Cage was going to play Clark Kent/Superman. I was actually a pretty big fan of Burton’s at the time and even I thought to myself: “Is Warner Bros. mad at Superman fans?” What other possible explanation could there be?
I still think such a radical departure from the source material was a questionable decision, but my curiosity over Superman Lives continues to grow nonetheless. Back in October, we received an incredibly detailed look at Superman’s costume from the film thanks to special effects legend, Steve Johnson.
A few days ago, Johnson posted even more photos of the costume and today he added a few storyboard images from Superman Lives as well.
Be sure to check out the rest of these images at Johnson’s incredible Facebook page.
As crazy as the Superman costume is, I do really like the design of the chest emblem. It seems to have carried over into some of that concept art from Superman Returns that Johnson shared last week. If he’s holding onto any photos of the costume completely assembled, I’m really hoping he decides to post them at some point.
As for those creature designs – given Burton’s obvious disregard for the comics (and the countless screenplays), it’s difficult to venture a guess as to which character that might be. Doomsday appeared in quite a few versions of the film, as did Brainiac. I believe at one point there was even a Lex Luthor/Brainiac hybrid called Lexiac. As divergent as these designs are, the one with all of the heads is still pretty creepy and cool.
It’s not hard to imagine this version of Superman grounding the franchise for another several years, but it still would have been wild to see. I think about something like Batman Returns and how it’s terrible as a Batman movie, but a pretty interesting Tim Burton film. There’s a lot to like, but only after you’ve made peace with the liberties it takes with the characters.
Might Superman Lives have been similar in that regard? Part of me thinks so – but the other part of me wonders why call it Superman at all when it’s so drastically different?
Still, I’m grateful for this brief glimpse at what might have been.
Source: Steve Johnson’s Facebook.