Tim Burton’s ‘Superman Lives’ Costume Revealed

4 years ago by  

The same day we post our 12 favorite iconic movie costumes, FX guru Steve Johnson has revealed the costume that could have been Superman’s suit in Tim Burton’s unmade Superman Lives.

It is a truly amazing and unprecedented sight to behold. The metallic, exoskeleton look would have been way beyond anthing anybody had imagined for the look of Superman.

No details are added to the photos, but it’s hard to imagine Burton would have dumped the red and blue entirely. Either way, this is truly inspired design work. I guess they did do something with the alleged $30 million Warner Bros. spent before canning the project.

Check out some of the photos below. It’s kind of bizarre to see these visions of a Superman that never existed on film. I wonder how it would have turned out had Burton never “forgotten to film it.”


The rest of the photos can be found on Steve Johnson’s Facebook page.

The Superman Super Site has a page dedicated to Burton’s Superman Lives with an image that appears to be along these same lines. In it, Superman sports his signature red cape, but the futuristic armor replaces the spandex suit. Could that be the finished look Johnson’s team was going for before the film was halted?

I’m starting to wonder if Burton’s Superman would have outdone his adaptation of Batman – as good as the latter was. Kevin Smith was to write the script and Nic Cage would play Superman. In fact, the photos show a mold of what appears to be Nic Cage’s head. So, if you had any doubts that the one photo of Nic Cage in a Superman suit was fake, this should be final proof that was more than rumor.

But in the end, this film remains in the “what-if” category and we have to wait for Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder’s version of Superman. That’s not such a bad replacement after all.

What do you think of these molds of Tim Burton’s Superman? What would you say to this look in 2012’s Man of Steel?

Source: Steve Johnson’s Facebook



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  1. Nolan’s proven his vision beats Burton’s once already…2012 it’ll happen again

  2. I have to be the first, but that suit does not look terrible. A little weird yes, but not terrible.

  3. Yeah not too fond of that. Cage would have been a terrible Supes/Kent

  4. Not bad. Would’ve made for an interesting Supes. Although it looks like there’s alot of the new lightning powers Superman, Tron and Borg armor in there. Def different in the alien treatment. Can’t wait for the Nolan/Snyder approach more though.

  5. Great Ceasars Ghost…Luv Burton, Luv his Batmans, Hate this suit, can’t stand Cage…

  6. Well, on the one hand, it’s really stupid looking. But, on the other, there’s almost no chance that he would throw the S off of it to momentarily disable a villain.

    • I keep trying to convince myself I never saw that. I keep failing…

      • That had to have been one of the top 5 dumbest scenes in movie history. Zod (or one of his henchmen, I don’t really remember) is flying towards Superman, and they zoom in on him, and you can tell he’s about to do something epic and then…he throws the god damn S off of his costume. What the hell, Superman?

  7. I see what he was going for with the more alien vibe, but I don’t think I like it very much. It strays too far away from the comics for me. The red and blue is too iconic for me to just let it go

  8. JEEZ that looks like crap I am so glad that nut didn’t get his hands on supe

  9. Nicholas Cage as Supes? Were they out of their minds? This looks terribly campish and just doggone strange. I’m glad this didn’t materialize.

  10. Ahhh my eyes. That is awful. Just more fuel on the fire that Burton is a hack. Every one of his films looks exactly the same visually and it’s always very very cheesy and poser dark. This however could of been his masterpiece of awful. This would of made the butcher of Sweeny Todd look good.

    Can’t wait to read Drsams reaction when he sees this lol. Talk about rapping an icon. It almost looks like it was very very heavily inspired by Batman & Robin lol I’m surprised Joel S wasn’t apart of this.

    • You’ve seen one burton movie you’ve seen them all…I’m just glad Kevin smiths script never manifested cause that would have been lame city.

    • I think it’s fair to say, that while I love Burton’s first Batman film, most of his other work shows a real amateur quality of faux darkness.
      Smiths script was shocking, Cage probably would have been ok as Superman but as Clark? No, this could have destroyed more than just the franchise, it might have damaged the character permanently.
      Not that I think The Man Of Steel is going to be much better.,.

      • Dr sam, totally agree of cage as supes, but clark, no way. So you’ve read the smith script? I just asumed it would be extremely kiddy or just lame kevin smith lack of character bile, minus chasing amy of course.

        • Oh yes, I’ve read it. And unfortunately I can never unread it.
          There were a few good parts, the opening with Deadshot is cool, but it focused too much on Brainiac and his pet robot. It does the whole death of Superman with doomsday, but when Superman is resurrected he can’t fly.
          It was pure 70s Superman.

          • Ugh, Kevin Smith is a one trick pony…keep him away from comic adaptions, I don’t need d**k and cart jokes during a supes flight scene. Sorry you can’t unread that (assumed) rubbish.

          • Yeah but his inability to fly is taken straight from the Return of Superman run of comics. When he is ‘reborn’ from the Matrix chamber he doesn’t have his full range of abilities. It takes a blast from Cyborg Superman, filtered through the Eradicator and passed onto Superman to restore him to full strength.

            But I get your point I don’t know if it would have translated well onto a big screen interpretation.

  11. giant spiders. that’s what the studio heads wanted for the enemy. giant mechanical spiders. from what i understand, this studio logic rolled over into will smith’s wild, wild west once this project was officially dead. they were that hooked on giant spiders. faber and faber’s “burton on burton” book has a good in-depth interview on it but i haven’t read it in forever.

  12. Looks more like Steel that Superman…

  13. ugly…

  14. Has everyone not seen the picture of Cage at his costume fitting??? In the dark red and blue suit, he had really long hair?
    And if you’ve read Smith’s script, I’m a huge fan of his, but it’s one of the worst scripts I have ever read in my life. He takes away Superman’s ability to fly!!!!!!!!!!
    Seeing photos like these, and the one of Cage, it is still a fascinating what if story.

    And I’m already noticing some people bashing Burton’s Batman and praising the Lord Nolan. Well, just stop it now!

    • Sorry Sam but I’m bashing Burtons batman in my opinion it was just a bad film it was mindless and cheesy and the set was not only cheesy but most looked fake. Only good things were the look of Batman himself and the acting.

      By the way I have not read the Smith script but I wouldn’t blame him if it’s bad the producer wanted him to do all kinds of crazy crap and told him no flying it’s ‘faggy’

    • I enjoy Burton’s Batman films, but IMO they lacked emotion, and that’s something I got out of Nolan’s films.

  15. Has anyone read the new Superman Earth One graphic novel yet? I’m halfway through it (I’m reading it slowly because it wasn’t cheap!), and aside from the absolutely fantastic artwork, it shows a true modern interpretation of the character.
    If they want to completely reboot Superman as a film, they should use it as a starting point.

    • Amazon shipped it today so it should arrive next week some time. Can’t wait.

      • The artwork is absolutely stunning.

    • I read it, cover to cover. It is an EXCELLENT Superman story. Also, yes, the artwork is wonderful.

      • I’m pacing myself with it. It’s rare to see a Superman story that is so different and so similar at the same time. Origins can be reinterpreted but they should never be changed. I hope Goyer and Snyder realise that.

    • Just waiting for it to arrive. Huge JMS fan. Loved his run on Thor. Glad to hear another Superman fan is enjoying the run.

      • And everyone thinks it was going to be dumb since Superman looked like an emo.

  16. Kevin Smith + Nicolas Cage + a strange wannabe futuristic shiny and glowy suit = a recipe for disaster if you ask me…

    • Kevin Smith + anything = disaster.

  17. The other thing about Smith’s script, terrible as it was, it had a huge sense of epic scale. There is no way they could have achieved it with 90s special effects.
    We should all just be lucky they didn’t make it. But oh boy did they come close, I remember seeing the teaser poster, they obviously made costumes, Sandra Bullock was meant to play Lois.
    It would have been a curiosity to see at least.

  18. All I can say is BULLET DODGED. Say what you want about ‘Superman Returns’, but at least it didn’t look like this.

  19. I must be the only one intrigued by this. Honestly, Supes needs something different to it. The character as a whole is just too boring for most, so shaking it up a bit via costume design, foes, plot etc would be a welcome change(Smallville anyone). All the outrageous ideas thrown in the script can be blamed on Jon Peters himself. BTW – I think Burton’s(or shall I say Keaton’s) Batman stands on it’s own. Nolan’s does not trump it.

    • I prefer Burton’s Batman too.

      • It sure is better than Singer´s version.

        • Better than Singer’s version? You’re funny man, because what I see in this article isn’t better than anything, it is a joke.

          The Burton costume and story idea are such a spit in the face of the fans of Superman and comics in general.

          If you are going to change the costume of a popular character, at least make it a new variation of a classic. Take Raimi’s Spider-man films. The costume was different than the comics, but it was perfect for the screen.

          At least the Superman Returns costume is still in the right ball park. It may not be perfect, but I would take it over that armored piece of junk that Burton and Smith thought would be a good idea.

          Seriously, Superman is a 70 year old character. Change him by putting him in new stories that are refreshing, like the New Krypton story arc that concluded a few months back in the comics. That is how you change up a classic character. Not spitting in the face of the character itself.

          • Whoa, whoa, whoa!!! Don’t throw Kevin Smith in with this. He was hired, and wrote the script long before Tim Burton entered the picture. Tim Burton was actually going to pretty much toss Smith’s original screenplay.

          • I´m not familiar with the history of Superman, I was always a Marvel kid.
            But I was talking about the movie. not the comstume. I agree with you about that issue. Of course you can´t make a Superman movie and have a different costume.

  20. Wow, that is about the WORST thing I might have ever seen regarding movies. Superman is all about the red, yellow and blue. “Burtonizing” the costume would have been a colossal failure. I can’t even tell you how much that suit makes me want to vomit. I really LOVE the first Batman film that Burton did, but I am SOOOO glad that he never got his hands on Superman. This would have been 100x worse than Superman 3 & 4.

    • Nobody complained about Batman wearing a plain black costume in Burton´s movies…

      • Taking Batman out of a grey spandex suit and putting him in a kevlar-enforced armor suit is believable. It looked good on the big screen.

        Superman has always been red and blue. Bright colors for a enthusiastic hero. Dark colors for a dark, brooding hero.

        Plain black works for Batman, Superman has to be in the classic red and blues or it doesn’t work

  21. For once I am glad that Tim Burton didn’t make a movie. That is absolutely horrible. No wonder they trashed that project. It looks like it was dead in the water from the word go. I would bet that Kevin Smiths script was awesome though. That is something they could salvage.

    • You should check out An Evening with Kevin Smith. In it he talks about how the producers wanted to change everything, and he had to fight to keep what little recognizable stuff still managed to make it in. They kept requesting outrageous ideas, several of which made it into completely unrelated projects, like the giant metal spider from Wild, Wild West.

  22. I read the Article on the SSS and it stated that Smith and Burton were at odds over the script. As soon as Burton came on board one of his first acts were to get rid of Smiths script and even brought in his own writers.

  23. They seem to going out of their way to exclude Supes traditional colors.
    I dont think I would have Liked that costume if I saw in a movie.

  24. u have to keep the red yellow and blue. but a moment or sceen with him in something different would be nice. Kinda like a supes upgrade or somthing. like iron man did.

    • Superman is SUPERMAN!! He doesn’t need an upgrade. Unlike Ironman, the suit doesn’t make him who he is. Ironman upgrades his armor to prevent from getting his butt handed to him daily.

      Superman has always had the classic red and blue. You take him out of that and put him in something unrecognizable, you might as well not call it Superman.

  25. Oh heck no. As much as i liked Tim Burton’s Batman films, no-way would see his Superman film with a costume like that. And no way would i see Snyder/Nolan’s film if they were to use that kind of idea for a costume. The only way id consider seeing a film with that costume is if it was somthing Superman would maybe wear after he returned from the dead after being killed by Doomsday.

    • No need to worry. As we saw with Watchmen, Snyder know’s how to translate the costumes to the big screen.