Director Tim Burton’s infamous Superman Lives project was nearly revived as an animated film, according to Batman Vs. Two-Face co-screenwriter Michael Jelenic. Warner Bros. Pictures spent a good deal of time developing Superman Lives in the late 1990s, with Nicolas Cage set to star as the Man of Steel himself. The ambitious blockbuster ultimately fell apart for a number of reasons, as writer/director Jon Schnepp’s 2015 documentary The Death of “Superman Lives” covered in extensive detail.
Warner Bros. Animation’s DC film universe has not only adapted some of the most famous comic book stories of all time (see Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Rises, Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke, and so forth); it even allowed the late Adam West to reprise his role as the Caped Crusader two more times, in last year’s Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and the newly-released Batman Vs. Two-Face. It nearly did the same for Cage’s Superman that never was, as Jelenic revealed during a roundtable interview for Batman Vs. Two-Face.
Speaking to the press (h/t CBR) while promoting the Return of the Caped Crusaders sequel, Jelenic explained that “I had a big pitch, and [Warner Bros.] took it seriously for a second – to do Tim Burton’s [Superman Lives]…to do that animated.” Jelenic didn’t elaborate on what WB’s reasoning was for ultimately not refashioning Superman Lives into an animated movie beyond that. However, when a member of the press half-joked that Cage would be onboard for such a project, Jelenic agreed – adding “He would absolutely do it!”
Although there’s nothing to suggest that WB and DC are currently giving any thought to resurrecting Superman Lives as a feature-length animated film, it’s arguably not outside the realm of possibility. Burton’s superhero movie that never was has become infamous for its many bizarre creative elements and strange approach to the Superman mythology – enough so that there’s now a built-in fanbase that would check out an animated movie version, if only to find out how it compares to the one in their minds.
On the other hand, it would be very difficult for an animated Superman Lives to live up to the zany movie that many of those same fans have envisioned. Beyond that, it might do little more than confirm that WB was correct to cancel the project (in live-action form) in the first place. While the superhero movie genre has evolved by leaps and bounds since the ’90s, Burton and Cage’s shared vision might still be too out-there and otherwise campy – especially by the genre’s more straight-faced modern standards.
One thing is certain though: if a Superman Lives animated movie were to be green-lit, Cage would indeed agree to work on it.
Batman Vs. Two-Face is now available to purchase on DVD and Blu-ray.
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