EXCLUSIVE: Lex Luthor's Weapon From Tim Burton's SUPERMAN LIVES

John Mann is a veteran concept designer and storyboard artist, having recently worked on Jon Favreau's Iron Man 2 and Cowboys & Aliens. Today, I want to show you two pieces of concept art that John Mann created for Tim Burton's Superman Lives.

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By nailbiter111 - 1/20/2013


Before we get to the art let's do a quick recap. In 1987, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, which starred Christopher Reeves and Gene Hackman, performed very poorly at the box office. So bad in fact, that the film's producer, Cannon Films, would end up going bankrupt not too long afterwards. The film rights reverted back to Ilya and Alexander Salkind. In the early 90's, they attempted to create a fifth Superman film starring Reeves, which actually told the death and rebirth of Superman. That story idea predates the comic books popular, "The Death of Superman" storyline.

When "The Death of Superman" comic books were published, their popularity sparked an interest from Warner Bros., who quickly scooped up the film rights in 1993 from the Salkinds, but handed them over to Jon Peters (Barbra Streisand's ex-boyfriend & ex-hair stylist). Peters and Warner Bros. would push for a family friendly, and more importantly, a toy friendly Superman film. Peters initially hired screenwriter, Jonathan Lemkin, and the film at that time was known as Superman Reborn. It would be heavily influenced by "The Death of Superman" comic books.

When that fizzled, Kevin Smith ("Clerks") would be hired to re-write the script, but under the bizarre conditions set by Jon Peters. He wanted an all black Superman suit, no flying ability, and for Superman climactic battle in the third act to be between Supes and a giant spider. I'll let video below with Kevin Smith fill you in on the rest of that story.



After Kevin Smith's efforts, Tim Burton would come on board to direct, but he wanted to add his unique elements to the script, so he hired Wesley Strick ("Cape Fear").

"The confirmed details of Wesley Strick's script indicate that, like the previous versions, it followed the "Death of Superman" story. A notable departure from that work is the fact that once Brainiac arrives on Earth, he and Lex Luthor eventually merge into a single entity dubbed "Luthiac". Thematically, Burton and Strick worked to underscore Superman's alienation by virtue of the fact that Superman (Kal-El) is -- literally -- an alien." - Superman Wiki

Burton's version would've had Nicolas Cage playing Superman. Kevin Spacey was approached for Lex Luthor, Chris Rock was set for Jimmy Olsen, Courtney Cox was up for Lois Lane, and Tim Allen claims he was negotiating with Warner Bros. for the Brainiac part. The film quickly went into pre-production with an expected release in the summer of 1998.

Burton hired Rick Heinricks as the film's production designer. This is when artist, John Mann, would come into the picture. He was hired to be a member of Rick's art department and began conceptualizing parts of the film. You can see two of his contributions below, with descriptions, that he exclusvisely sent over to ComicBookMovie.com.



"The black pyramid shaped thing is a concept for Lex Luthor's proposed orbiting space weapon. One is how it would look normally in orbit then the second would be as it looks inside after deployment/unfolded. There would be solar panels of sorts attached to it when unfurled/deployed. The outside shell becomes usable solar panels when deployed." - John Mann



I'd also like to add that screenwriter Dan Gilroy was brought in to rewrite Strick's script. His job was to bring the budget down by as much as $90 million dollars to a more palatable $100 million. While we don't know much about Strick's script we do have a lot of details about Gilroy's.

"Brainiac comes to Earth and encounters Luthor. The two devise a plan to destroy Superman. They begin by merging into a single cyborg entity known as "Lexiac". Lexiac creates the creature Doomsday to attack Superman. Superman and Doomsday battle to the death, after which time (and a public funeral) the Man of Steel's body is transported to the Fortress of Solitude. The body is revived (powerless) by a mysterious Kryptonian force known only as "K". Superman and "K" leave the fortress and trek back to Metropolis.

During this time, Lexiac--an advanced alien force with the resources of a multi-national conglomerate at its disposal--plans to destroy Earth just as he did Krypton. He begins assembling an arsenal of nuclear warheads to be detonated on all the world's top cities." - Superman Wiki



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By the way, John Mann is quite the renaissance man, besides creating his outstanding concept art and storyboards for films, John also directed his first short film, "Girl With a Tail", which you can view below.




You can see more of John's concept art and storyboards at his website storyboardcomix.com

Source: John Mann
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Mendenhall12 - 1/20/2013, 7:53 PM
Thank God this movie wasn't made.
ForeverPowerful - 1/20/2013, 7:53 PM
Lexiac?...oh god...
4thDoctor - 1/20/2013, 8:00 PM
Well, the Luthor/Braniac union did happen in Justice League Unlimited, and worked quite well in my opinion.

With some tweaking, this movie might not have sucked.
Logan5 - 1/20/2013, 8:01 PM
I think in five-ten years, a film about the making of this could make a great "For Your Consideration/Best of Show" style mocku-portrait project. Who would play Smith? Watching Smith being thrown the concept of Supes fighing a giant spider then cutting to the post production of Wild Wild West would be more golden than a Coppola dissolve from The Outsiders.
4thDoctor - 1/20/2013, 8:01 PM
WHO am I kidding. This movie would have sucked.
KelvTwelve - 1/20/2013, 8:12 PM
REMEMBER, When Tim Burton came in, everything from Smith's script was taken away and replaced by Burton's shitty writing. I don't know why they considered him to be the man TO BRING THE DC MOVIE UNIVERSE. He didn't understand OR READ the comics at all.
Logan5 - 1/20/2013, 8:13 PM
Kevin Smith in the '90's: untouchable.

Kevin Smith today: I still love him despite disagreeing with his creative decisions over the past decade and well.., but I'm always here & hopeful for the Askew-niverse and his true return. Come on Kev.., you're even real enough to admit you might not be a true filmmaker(your own words), but you still have it.

After his kid goes to college, he'll have more true free time(that show will be long gone from AMC)and you can make a real film.., you know, get back to where you were. So if you're listening, Smith.., Mosier? :-P
CaptainObvious - 1/20/2013, 8:14 PM
Was it even possible for this movie to make the 90's even worse for comic book movies? It's such a relief this movie was never made.
Logan5 - 1/20/2013, 8:17 PM
*get back to where he was.

Sorry, getting a lot of calls(holiday)at the moment.
pud333 - 1/20/2013, 8:18 PM
Dear... God...
Logan5 - 1/20/2013, 8:20 PM
@Cap O: '90's sucked for CBM's. I don't consider Blade a comic book film despite being a pretty good one, but Batman Returns was about it outside of the Crow, which is kinda' laughable at current.

Dredd('12) was the best of the year.., hands down.
Logan5 - 1/20/2013, 8:21 PM
@pud333

"Oh god, you devil."
ScabbyJ - 1/20/2013, 8:22 PM
Brainilex was in the Justice League Unlimited finale. That's was an awesome arc
Luigi - 1/20/2013, 8:24 PM
I've had Smith's script on my com forever yet still haven't read it despite The Widening Gyre being one of my favs. Does anybody know if the script is any good?
ATrueHero1987 - 1/20/2013, 8:24 PM
Tim Allen was negotiating for the role of Brainiac??lmao!
superotherside - 1/20/2013, 8:26 PM
Wow... never even mind. Not sure if ANY comic book movie has even come CLOSE to being as terrible as this would have been if it was made.
Durf - 1/20/2013, 8:27 PM
Holy shit that sounds like utter shit. Thank God it didn't see the light of day
nailbiter111 - 1/20/2013, 8:30 PM
I'd like to point out that Jon Peters is an executive producer on Man Of Steel. Although, his involvement is said to be limited.

Luigi - I read Smith's Superman script back in college, before I knew about Jon Peter's tinkering. Now I understand why he added so many silly elements. Minus the Peters stuff and it's not too shabby.
ToTheManInTheColdSweat - 1/20/2013, 8:33 PM
I love it, altho imho sean penn should have been superman not nicholas cage, mother[frick]er has the eyes of a caged animal, a [frick]ing killer. perfect for superman.
BaneFTW - 1/20/2013, 8:45 PM
@dwaynejohnsonsfromundahcheesepanini:

Kevin Smith is actually planning to retire from filmmaking altogether after he does Clerks 3. Not sure how to post a link here, but you can verify the news on Google.
2gold - 1/20/2013, 8:51 PM
Brainiac vs a Polar Bear?!?! How did this NOT occur?!? This is exactly what Superman Returns needed, Brainiac fighting a Polar Bear! It would have made 100 Billion dollars.
thewonderer - 1/20/2013, 8:56 PM
Tim Allen as Brainiac people

A moment of silence for the loss of arguably the greatest casting ever.
Logan5 - 1/20/2013, 9:02 PM
@BaneFTW :-D

Thought he had mentioned he was done and figured that show on AMC was his retirement/tax deal, but he'll be back. Trust me. It will be years from now, but that guy will return, whether it's the saddest thing we'll ever see or utter retribution. MOS! Cannot wait and the actors they've cast as villains in that one.., can't wait!
THEDARKKNIGHT1939 - 1/20/2013, 9:26 PM
I wish we could see a trailer for what this film could have been. Just to see and laugh my ass off.
HeadPool420 - 1/20/2013, 9:27 PM
Once again I'd like to say how thankful I am that this movie wasn't made...
TheTank - 1/20/2013, 9:28 PM
Luthor's "space weapon" or whatever wasn't going to actually be in Burtons movie, Wesley Strick thought the idea was dumb and that it reminded him of an episode of the Simpsons where Mr.Burns blocks out the sun. The production team was working from Kevin Smith's draft because it was still being used as the basic skeleton to the movie...

Kevin Smith's draft wasn't terrible, it had a lot of characters which is hard to balance, and it had a lot going on but was very well written for what it was. Dan Gilroy's draft was terrible. I wish someone had Strick's draft, its the only one i haven't read, apparently when he submitted it, it was long overdue and its budget would have been astronomical.
rockerdude22 - 1/20/2013, 9:37 PM
Like others have said, thank God this was never made! Now I need to watch the MOS trailer again to get the bad taste this has given me out of my mouth
BlueDemon - 1/20/2013, 9:45 PM


BlueDemon - 1/20/2013, 9:46 PM
Kevin Smith [frick]ING RULES though but I'm glad this movie wasn't made
ScabbyJ - 1/20/2013, 9:52 PM
@luigi

Besides the very strange requests touched upon in that video, it was virtually an 80page pitch, and a damn good consolidation at that. Eradicator was a suit (meant for toy sales) the giant spider was featured later in wild Wild West, and Brainiac fights a polar bear. Deadshot is in the first 5 pages, Superman saves an airplane (Superman Returns), and superman absorbs sunlight to recharge his powers.
113 - 1/20/2013, 10:00 PM
We really dodged a bullet with this thing. This film would of set Superman back 50 years if it had been made
loki668 - 1/20/2013, 10:10 PM
I wish that they had made this film just so that everyone could have had a good laugh at Tim Burton's expense. He probably would have cast Johnny Depp as Superman and Helena Bonham Carter as Braniac AND Lex Luthor.

Lord Loki has spoken
DCjohnny - 1/20/2013, 10:20 PM
my brain is not able to process and digest nic cage as superman... eeeww... yuck
thedangle1 - 1/20/2013, 10:42 PM
I don't think the fact that Nicholas Cage playing Superman would've doomed this movie, or Tim Allen playing Brainiac would've clinched it as well, or Tim Burton directing, none of that. I think the deciding factor would've been probably THE worst CBM casting I've read yet...CHRIS ROCK AS JIMMY OLSEN???????!!!!!!!!! Thank whatever God is up there this piece of shit, useless, waste of money-that-would've-bombed movie NEVER got made.
Robert - 1/20/2013, 11:17 PM
My gosh this would've single handily killed the Superman brand. Thank God it was never made. Producers and directors on crack.
mgeoff88 - 1/20/2013, 11:18 PM
Luthiac!? And the casting?!? WTF? This movie would've made Superman Returns look like Superman II.

We really dodged a bullet here! Thank God this wasn't made! This would've killed the Superman movie franchise.
rbfn04 - 1/20/2013, 11:20 PM
@thedangle REALLY????????? Chris Rock you have a problem with???????? Not Cage (or Penn with hbis killer eyes). Not Tim Burton. CHRIS ROCK?????????


wow...
incrediblesuperbatspider - 1/20/2013, 11:23 PM
Cool Story BRO!!!!
batzack - 1/20/2013, 11:29 PM
Ahhhhhhh that video really put a smile in my face this morning after falling over (3 times) in the snow :)
Nomis1800 - 1/20/2013, 11:34 PM
We're so damn lucky this movie has never actually been made.

SO DAMN LUCKY!
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