If you’ve been walking this Earth for as long as I have, then you remember the time that separated 1987’s Superman IV: The Quest for Peace from 2006’s Superman Returns. Long story short, Hollywood burned through many scripts when trying to resurrect the Man of Steel for the big screen, with none of them coming to fruition. Well, there was one that came dangerously close to doing so.
We are, of course, talking about Superman Lives. Set to have been directed by Tim Burton, it would’ve starred Nicolas Cage as Big Blue and was all but ready to begin filming before the plug was pulled by Warner Bros. Now, we could probably discuss this all day, but for the most comprehensive source out there, it’s best you consult the documentary that chronicled the ill-fated flick.
When recently speaking with Entertainment Weekly and several other outlets at the Toronto International Film Festival, Cage went on to boast that his and Burton’s take on the Last Son of Krypton may have put all others to shame:
“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. 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.”
Although a Superman whose S-shield came off his chest to form daggers strays a bit far from the source material, the simple truth is that we can’t really judge a film we never got the chance to see. Granted, one would expect Burton to go in a darker direction, but it’s all a matter of perspective as Cage said back in a 2013 interview:
“It was like Batman all those years ago; there was always a bit of controversy. Like, ‘Oh, it’s too dark.’ It’s like, well, now it looks like a light-hearted romp. We were trying to explore the more human side of the character and get into that whole thing.”
While it would’ve no doubt provided a different take on the timeless icon than we’re used to seeing, we have to ask ourselves if Superman Lives really would have been a bad movie. After all, this is Tim Burton we’re talking about and he has a pretty stellar track record, to say the least.