Tim Burton Reflects on Abandoned Superman Lives Movie With Nicolas Cage

Following Nicolas Cage‘s surprise cameo as Superman in The Flash, iconic director Tim Burton opened up about his unproduced DC film Superman Lives.

In an interview with BFI, Burton discussed his long and historic career with such cinematic classics as Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Batman, and Edward Scissorhands, among others. The director was set to helm a deconstructionist take on the Man of Steel in 1997 starring the Oscar-winning actor of Leaving Las Vegas before script and budgetary issues derailed the movie. When asked if he had regrets about the unrealized Superman movie, Burton said he looks back at that time as a valuable learning experience.

“No, I don’t have regrets,” Burton said. “I will say this: when you work that long on a project and it doesn’t happen, it affects you for the rest of your life. Because you get passionate about things, and each thing is an unknown journey, and it wasn’t there yet. But it’s one of those experiences that never leaves you, a little bit.”

The story of Superman Lives

The legend of Superman Lives was detailed in Jon Schnepp’s 2015 documentary The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened?, which featured an interview with Burton. Had the movie been made, Superman Lives would have been a loose adaptation of DC‘s The Death of Superman, with the Man of Steel facing off against Lex Luthor, Brainiac, and a giant alien spider. While the project never got made, The Flash director Andy Muschietti convinced Cage to cameo as Burton’s Superman in the DC Universe movie for its colliding multiverse ending.

In response to the Cage cameo in The Flash, Burton raised an issue that he finds disturbing: The use of AI in Hollywood. “But also it goes into another AI thing, and this is why I think I’m over it with the studio,” Burton continued. “They can take what you did, Batman or whatever, and culturally misappropriate it, or whatever you want to call it. Even though you’re a slave of Disney or Warner Brothers, they can do whatever they want. So in my latter years of life, I’m in quiet revolt against all this.”

The Flash is now streaming on Max.