In the 1990s, Tim Burton was set to take on the world of Superman with Nicolas Cage starring as the Man of Steel in Superman Lives, but the movie never happened. Since then, the movie has grown to mythical proportions, even inspiring a documentary about the scrapped project. It appears that Cage is totally fine with the movie never being made because it's far more powerful in our "imaginations." Cage went on to say that the scrapped Superman movie is "more powerful than any of the Superman movies".
Nicolas Cage recently talked to Entertainment Weekly at the Toronto Film Festival while promoting his latest movie, Mom and Dad and wound up talking about the Superman movie that will forever only live in our brains. In fact, according to Cage, it's better that the movie never happened to begin with. Cage had this to say.
"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."
Before Jon Shcnepp's 2015 documentary, Superman Lives: What Happened?, the idea of Nicolas Cage playing Superman was seen as a joke by just about everybody, so these words coming from Cage at this time are really something to take in and enjoy. As it turns out, Tim Burton was trying to deliver something that DCEU fans have been asking for since the cinematic universe started.
In 2013, Burton compared his version of Superman to his Batman with many saying that the script was too dark for a Superman movie. Burton had this to say.
"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."
Cage has said over the years that he had great faith in what Burton was trying to pull off. In 2015, Cage told Yahoo almost the same thing that he recently told EW about the power of imagination. Cage explains.
"I would've loved to have seen it, but I feel that in many ways, it was sort of a win-win because of the power of the imagination. I think people can actually see the movie in their minds now and imagine it and in many ways that might resonate more deeply than the finished project."
Tim Burton's version of the movie was loosely based on The Death of Superman storyline from the comics. The main villain was the alien supercomputer, Brainiac, and he had a plot to kill Superman by simultaneously blocking out the sun and unleashing Doomsday on Metropolis. The evil plot works, and Superman is killed, which is based off of the Superman Reborn series. A notable departure from the Reborn Series is the fact that once Brainiac arrives on Earth, he and Lex Luthor were to eventually merge into a single entity called "Luthiac" and the duo create Doomsday to destroy Superman.
Depending on your imagination, Superman Lives is either the best Superman movie ever (not) released in the history of the character or a complete joke. Some screen tests of Nicolas Cage as the Man of Steel tend to sway imaginations to a cheesier place, but Tim Burton's vision mixed with the Death of Superman and the Reborn Series with a dash of creative license sounds pretty awesome and a project that many fans can get behind. For now, just sit back and close your eyes and watch the movie in your head to see if it still holds up against anything that the DCEU has churned out to this point. Cage might have a point there...