SUPERMAN LIVES: 10 Things You Didn't Know About Tim Burton's Canceled Film

SUPERMAN LIVES: 10 Things You Didn't Know About Tim Burton's Canceled Film

Superman Lives has earned "infamous" status in recent years, but what direction was Tim Burton's take on the Man of Steel heading in? To answer that, we look back at the film through every iteration...

Superman Lives is perhaps best known as being the Superman film directed by Tim Burton, written by Kevin Smith, and starring Nicolas Cage. However, there's a lot more to it than that. 

The film went through a number of screenplays in the 1990s, with a vast array of wacky ideas which will leave you speechless. Wesley Strick and Dan Gilroy also penned their take on this live-action Superman project, and we thought you'd dig these 10 little-known facts about Superman Lives

Given the hectic, baffling journey the film had to the big screen (where it failed to take off), we've done our best to attribute these reveals to each specific part of Superman Lives' journey, but no one truly knows what the final film might have looked like...all of the ideas here were on the table, though!

We're pretty sure you won't be upset that it didn't become a reality, but prepare to be blown up, up, and away...
 

10. This Ain't Your Momma's Clark Kent

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The casting of Nic Cage alone is proof of this, but Superman Lives was to focus more on Clark Kent's status as an outsider in a world that's not his own. 

However, with a Superman who didn't learn of his alien origins until long after he suited up as Metropolis's Man of Steel, Clark's backstory was vastly different to what comic fans know. Clark was also far from mild-mannered, and Cage planned to inject his trademark wackiness into the character.

One pre-Kevin Smith script had Superman struggling to deal with his dual identities, with the psychological toll on Clark of being two separate people leading him to a therapist's office. 

They deserve credit for trying something new with Superman, but this could have gotten weird. 
 

9. Fortress Of Solitude's Polar Bear Guards

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There were lots of nutty ideas which made it into Superman Lives's different screenplays, and creating as many opportunities as possible for toys seemed high on the priority list. 

One such example is the Fortress of Solitude being guarded by polar bears. 

They weren't going to be outfitted in costumes - as far as we know - but the plan was for Brainiac to battle them at one point, something Kevin Smith has admitted left him perplexed. Producer Jon Peters insisted on the animals being added to the film as he felt this sequence lacked action. 

Given the limits of VFX when this film was being made, the scene would have surely been a disaster.
 

8. Possible Batman Cameo

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Long before Kevin Feige dreamed up the MCU, Warner Bros. had some vague ideas for a shared comic book world on screen.

Tim Burton directed Batman and Batman Returns, so it's no great surprise he planned to enlist Michael Keaton for an in or out of costume cameo as the Dark Knight in Superman Lives. No specifics were revealed about the scene, but such a crossover might have led to an early take on a Batman vs. Superman film.

Keaton and Cage sharing the scene as Bruce and Clark would have been hard not to be excited by, though this was only ever an early idea. 

One idea was for Bruce to speak at Superman's funeral before Brainiac and Lex Luthor attacked. 
 

7. Classic Comic Book Inspiration

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Superman Lives was set to be crammed full of wacky, zany ideas, but it still took some cues from the comics it was based on.

The then recent Death of Superman storyline had been a huge seller for DC Comics, and something every iteration of this film's screenplay took inspiration. You might have figured this out from the mention of Superman's funeral, and it looked like Doomsday was to be responsible for his demise on screen as well. 

Unleashed by Brainiac as part of the villain's plan to steal Superman's body, it might have worked, though a pre-Kevin Smith screenplay saw Doomsday kill Lois Lane as well. 

In the course of this one film, Superman would have returned from the dead after his spirit returned to his body.
 

6. Jon Peters' Giant Spider Obsession

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We've mentioned Jon Peters a couple of times, and the prolific producer had some crazy ideas for Superman. 

The polar bears was one of them, but he also hoped to see the Man of Steel do battle with a giant spider. Peters was insistent that this fight happen in the final act, and comments from Kevin Smith have indicated that the producer was borderline obsessed with the concept. 

Ultimately, Smith wrote the spider in as a "Thanagarian Snare Beast," but when Superman Lives didn't happen, Peters was left without his giant spider. 

Luckily, he was able to squeeze a giant spider into his next film: Wild Wild West.
 

5. The Film's Baddies

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Alongside Doomsday and Braniac, Lex Luthor was going to take aim at Superman in this extremely busy film. One draft saw the latter two merge to become a baddie known as "Luthiac" or "Lexiac."

Brainiac was responsible for the destruction of Krypton, but it wasn't until he merged with Luthor that he'd create Doomsday. 

The ultimate plan of this hybrid baddie was to destroy Earth using nuclear warheads...and seduce Lois Lane. Superman would obviously return in time to save the day, and the idea of Brainiac and Lex becoming one seemed to disappear in each subsequent draft.

Things didn't get any less strange, though, because Brainiac was to gift Lex a space dog that Warner Bros. could make plenty of toys from.
 

4. Weird Casting

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Superman Lives never seemed to get far along enough to actually put a cast together, but Kevin Smith had some very specific ideas in mind when he delivered his draft to Tim Burton.

That included Ben Affleck as Superman, Linda Fiorentino as Lois Lane, Jack Nicholson as Lex Luthor, Famke Janssen as Mercy Graves, John Mahoney as Perry White, David Hyde Pierce as The Eradicator, Jason Lee as Brainiac, and Jason Mewes as Jimmy Olsen.

Some might call that a dream cast, but those at the studio had different ideas.

Kevin Spacey, Tim Allen, and Christopher Walken were all linked to Brainiac, with the latter said to be Tim Burton's top pick. Chris Rock as Jimmy Olsen and Courtney Cox as Lois Lane were two likely candidates at one stage as well. 
 

3. Brianiac's Gay Robot Sidekick

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Kevin Smith invited Jon Peters to a screening of Chasing Amy, but never anticipated what that would lead to. 

The producer loved "the Black guy" in the film, and decided Superman Lives needed a similar feel. "We need that voice, we need that character, somebody like him," Smith recalls Peters saying. "Can’t Brainiac have a sidekick? Give him a little robot sidekick, and give him that dude’s voice. That’s what this movie needs, just a gay R2-D2."

"L-Ron" shares all his scenes with Brainiac, and occasionally breaks the fourth wall to address the audience and make cracks about what it's like to work for a tyrannical intergalactic despot.

There were so many ideas and characters thrown into Superman Lives, how could it not have been a mess?
 

2. More Than One Super Suit

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Aside from the infamous photo of Nicolas Cage in his Superman costume, there's lots of concept art out there showing what this Man of Steel might have looked like on screen.

While Superman was going to be seen in something akin to his traditional costume, he'd have also donned a regenerative costume upon returning from the dead, as well as a darker, black suit fans of the comics would have likely appreciated a great deal. 

The hero's robotic ally in the Fortress of Solitude would have even transformed into a metallic suit for the character to wear, leading to an insanely long list of toy-making possibilities. 

As cool as those might have looked, it's likely because Jon Peters insisted on no cape, no flying, and not red and blue. 
 

1. Why Superman Lives Didn't Happen

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In case you haven't figured it out already, Superman Lives was a total clusterf***.

It had been through countless writers by the time Tim Burton came on board, and even though it was Smith who suggested the Batman filmmaker, the writer was promptly fired because Burton hated his script. His take was likely to differ again, though not a lot has been revealed about that beyond the odd snippet here and there. 

Budget issues and behind-the-scenes politicking at Warner Bros. held Superman Lives back, and the project eventually crumbled, with Burton walking away (with $5 million thanks to a "pay or play" contract). 

The studio would go on to try a number of different iterations, with Superman Returns the film that ultimately happened. 

And it sucked.
 

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