ByMatthew Chapman, writer at
Male. Australian. Nerd. Twitter: shuey1984
Matthew Chapman

A documentary about the proposed 1998 Superman Lives feature film that would have starred Nicolas Cage.

I am no Superman aficionado so if I have mistakenly got something wrong, I'm sorry and leave your pitchforks at the door!

The first two Superman movies were awesome, the second two are entertaining in how bad they are, Superman Returns is even worse and Man Of Steel, while being full of massive destruction is still a pretty awesome film.

I started hearing about this film when the picture started circulating around the Internet of Nicolas Cage in a Superman outfit. I didn’t like the outfit and, as of now, didn’t like the idea of Cage playing Clark Kent/Superman but back then I probably wouldn’t have minded the casting.

Nicolas Cage.
Nicolas Cage.

Kevin Smith talks about 3 rules that were given to him by Jon Peters; No flying, no suit and Superman must fight a giant spider. Peters says the first two are not true but I have to say, I’m inclined to believe Kevin Smith over him, mostly due to some of the things he says throughout the doco.

Peters tells Kevin Smith ‘You got nothing happening. You got Brainiac coming to the Fortress of Solitude, there’s not fight. Have him fight Superman’s guards’ Um okay 1) Fortress of SOLITUDE – there’s no one there! 2) Guards? He’s Superman; he doesn’t have guards. What superhero has guards!

When Peters talks about firing Smith later, he states one of the reasons being the script wasn’t funny. Since when is Superman a comedy! Peters goes on to talk about making the cape a character of it’s own; could be taken off and thrown at someone and could even chop someone’s head off.


Jon Peters on the left.
Jon Peters on the left.

Storyboard artist, Michael Anthony Jackson, the day before getting the call from Tim Burton about doing Superman Lives, signed on to do the first Matrix film but then pulled out the next day – what a mistake that was!

Wesley Strick was hired after Kevin Smith was fired ‘I hadn’t read any of The Death of Superman. I wasn’t up to speed with any of that stuff’

That stuff? HE is supposed to write a movie when he hasn’t read the comics! Wow this movie would have been brilliant!

Pretty much the only thing this movie had going for it, after Smith was fired, was the casting; Sandra Bullock as Lois Lane, Chris Rock as Jimmy Olsen Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor and Christopher Walken as Brianiac.

I did not like the design they had for Brainiac, it was basically a head on some spider legs. The rough designs for Doomsday were horrible, one of them had faces coming out of his body!

Concept art for Brainiac.
Concept art for Brainiac.

This documentary was very informative to see the process of making a movie of this scale back then, I’m glad to see some aspects of making a Superman film have changed.

After watching this and hearing what it could have been, I am beyond glad that it wasn’t made. I think it could have been worse than even Superman Returns!

While it was an interesting look into what could have been and what went wrong, it's not something I need to watch again.

CHAPPY THINKS that although I love what Tim Burton did with Batman, I think Superman Lives would have been more catastrophic than the final destructions scenes in Man Of Steel!


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