Nicolas Cage claims Superman Lives is the most “powerful” film in the franchise - despite the fact it wasn’t actually made. Superman Lives is one of the most legendary unmade comic book movies of all time - and in addition to Cage playing the eponymous role, it would have been directed by Tim Burton.
Burton worked on the movie for over a year, overseeing various script drafts and designing concept art, when Warner Bros. decided to pull the plug. The mounting costs of the project played a big part in this, with the studio coming off the back of costly flops like Batman & Robin and The Postman. Still, the project has really lingered in the minds of movie fans, who’ve often wondered what a Superman movie helmed by Burton and starring Nic Cage might look like.
As Cage told EW during an interview, that’s exactly what makes this unmade project so fascinating. While promoting his upcoming movie Mom And Dad - helmed by his Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance director Brian Taylor - Cage offered his thoughts on Superman Lives:
“I would offer that the movie that Tim and I would have made, in your imagination, is more powerful than any of the Superman movies. I didn’t even have to make the movie and we all know what that movie would have been in your imagination. That is the Superman. That is the movie. Even though you never saw it — it is the Superman.”
The cult around Superman Lives slowly evolved years after the project was cancelled, when screenplays, costume tests, and interviews with various crew members painted a picture of a movie that either would have rocked - or been a complete disaster. The definitive story of the movie and why it collapsed was told in the 2015 documentary The Death Of Superman Lives: What Happened?, which included interviews with Burton, screenwriter Kevin Smith and producer Jon Peters.
It seemed like a project where the various creative forces involved had different visions for what they were trying to make; Burton wanted to tell the story of Superman as the ultimate outsider, while the producers wanted a movie that would sell lots of cool toys. The most infamous - and hilarious - story is where Smith recounts Peters forcing him to write a scene where Superman fights a giant spider, an idea that was later recycled for the Will Smith bomb Wild Wild West.
In a way, Cage is correct - because the Superman Lives movie fans envision in their minds is likely much better (or, at the least, more interesting) than the actual film could have been.