During the late ’90s, Warner Bros. attempted to revive the Superman franchise on the big screen with Superman Lives, a movie script that was very loosely based on The Death and Return of Superman. At one point, Nicolas Cage was set to star as the Man of Steel, with Tim Burton in the director’s chair. However, Burton eventually left the project and WB abandoned it entirely in 1998. In a new interview with Variety, Cage looked back at his cancelled Superman movie. And he went on to explain how Burton joined the project.
“They wanted Renny Harlin to do the movie,” recalled Cage. “I sat down with Renny. I was doing another picture, he came to the trailer and we talked. [And] I liked Renny… but I thought ‘if I’m going to do this, it’s such a bullseye to hit.’ I said, this has to be Tim Burton. I called Tim and said, ‘Would you do this?’ Tim didn’t cast me, I cast Tim, and Tim said yes. I loved what he did with Michael [Keaton] and Batman, and I was a big fan.”
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To this day, Cage isn’t entirely sure why the film didn’t go forward. However, he suspects that Warner Bros. was reluctant about Burton’s vision after his Mars Attack adaptation was a box office bust.
“I love Mars Attacks, noted Cage. “I thought Mars Attacks was just a fantastic, groundbreaking movie. He’s a groundbreaker! But they were scared at the studio because of Mars Attacks. Warner Brothers had lost a lot of money on the movie. These movies that are really weird, that challenge and break ground, they piss a lot of people off. I think they got cold feet. They’d spent a lot of money already building the sets and the costume and what have you. But you never know. I don’t mean to be cryptic Cage, but you never know!”
Cage also briefly described his take on the character in the cancelled film.
“It was more of a 1980s Superman with like, the samurai black long hair,” said Cage. “I thought it was gonna be a really different, sort of emo Superman, but we never got there.”
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