The Flash Will Finally Bring an Unproduced Superman Movie to Life
The latest cameo from The Flash goes beyond Batman to pull from a legendary unproduced DC movie.
This post contains spoilers for The Flash.
In our universe, the first Superman movie after the Cannon Films flop Superman IV: The Quest for Peace was Superman Returns, the pseudo II sequel starring Brandon Routh. But in in other realities, the J.J. Abrams and McG project Superman Flyby was next to bring the Man of Steel back to the screen, or the Wolfgang Petersen-directed Batman v Superman, featuring Johnny Depp as Batman. But in the greatest of all realities, Superman returned in Superman Lives, an adaptation of the Death of Superman story directed by Tim Burton and starring Nicolas Cage as Kal El.
And if there’s one thing that modern superhero movies love apparently, it’s alternate realities. In fact, the multiverse has been the primary selling point for the long-delayed DC movie The Flash. What was originally intended to be a spin-off from the DC Universe established Zack Snyder has ballooned into a multiversal take on the Flashpoint storyline, bringing back not only the increasingly exhausted Ben Affleck, but also Michael Keaton’s Batman, not seen since 1992’s Batman Returns.
For all of the caves and cowls in the promotional material, trailers seem to suggest that much of the movie takes place not in an established Bat-universe, but in the reality of Man of Steel, as Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) and his double team up with Supergirl (Sasha Calle) to save a world without a Superman. But according to director Andy Muschietti, The Flash will have a Superman, just not one we’ve ever seen before, at least not officially.
Muschietti confirmed to Esquire Middle East that The Flash will feature the first proper appearance of Nicolas Cage’s Superman. While not Cage’s first go at the last son of Krypton — he voiced the character in Teen Titans Go! To the Movies — it will be the first time he gets to realize this version of Superman. Earlier this year, Cage described to Variety his vision of the Superman Lives hero, calling it “more of a 1980s Superman with like, the samurai black long hair. I thought it was gonna be a really different, sort of emo Superman, but we never got there.”
Superman Lives started production in the late 90s as a way to restore Superman to his central place in pop culture, a position he lost after Superman IV. Despite the involvement of directors Renny Harlin and Tim Burton, producer Jon Peters, and writers such as Kevin Smith and Dan Gilroy, the project never made it to screens. In its place have been a growing collection of rumors and revelations about the movie, including an appearance by Doomsday, a Lex Luthor/Braniac team-up straight from Alan Moore’s “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow,” and, as demanded by Peters, a battle against a mechanical spider.
It seems unlikely that all of these elements will join Cage during his scenes in The Flash, meaning that the full Superman Lives treatment still only exists in other realities — better realities, where superhero movies are just about the superhero in the title.
The Flash finally arrives in theaters on June 15, 2023.