At this point, there’s little the internet doesn’t know about Superman Lives, the unmade Superman movie that gestated in various forms throughout the ’90s. In its most famous iteration, it would have starred Nicolas Cage as Superman, with Tim Burton directing. There’s a really great documentary that you should check out called The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened? which will give you all of the crazy details about why the movie never happened.
But just for the moment, I can give you an abridged version. Superman Lives didn’t happen because it was absolutely bonkers. There are all manner of tales of Hollywood wackiness surrounding it, but there are two key points to know. Kevin Smith wrote a draft of the movie before Tim Burton got involved, and it’s far better than its reputation suggests. But then after that? Well, things got weird, and the most likely version that Burton would have filmed is the one by Nightcrawler‘s Dan Gilroy, and this script is so excessive that it would make Batman & Robin look like Logan. I wrote about it in considerable detail here.
Anyway, Entertainment Weekly caught up with Nicolas Cage, and inevitably (I suppose) Superman Lives came up. “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,” Mr. Cage said while speaking with journalists at the Toronto International Film Festival. “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.”
It is the something, alright. This is a movie that at one point has Lex Luthor parading around in a red, white, and blue thong and a Brainiac who reads like he was written for Jim Carrey…as if Warner Bros. hadn’t learned from Batman Forever.
Mike Cecchini has read nearly every draft of every unproduced Superman movie. Throw Kryptonite at him on Twitter.