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Home / General / Acting / Tim Burton’s Unproduced Superman Project

Tim Burton’s Unproduced Superman Project

Alright so in this week’s piece, I was planning on bringing up another behind-the-scenes approach in the entertainment arts industry but since I’ve been recently supporting a crowdfunding campaign of a documentary, pulling the tarp off of a really weird project closely related to my last article, I wanted to have another take on the geek stuff.

Well the last article if you recall, was about Tim Burton’s first Batman movie in 1989, which was a groundbreaking attempt to bring the Caped Crusader to the silver screen. Well what if I told you back in 1998, Warner Brothers was considering filming a new Superman movie, again directed by Tim Burton and produced mostly by 1989 Batman’s producers, starring – wait for it – no other than Nicolas Cage himself as the Man of Steel? Filmmaker Kevin Smith (Mallrats, Dogma, Chasing Amy, Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back etc.) was hired to write the script under really controversial instructions of producer Jon Peters – such as Superman would not fly, would not wear his trademark Red-Blue-Yellow Outfit, he would fight a giant spider in the 3rd act, the villain Brainiac would fight some polar bears etc.

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The official teaser poster.

You can hear the amazingly hilarious story by Kevin Smith himself in the video below if you’re interested. He gives insight about his writing process, the story and why he was taken from the project.

So, Nicolas Cage as Superman… Weird huh?

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Yeah, there really was a time in 90’s when Superman had long hair in the comics.

Nicolas Cage was a true Superman fan, he was such a big fan that he named his son Kal-El (Superman’s Kryptonian name). And despite his bad reputation for the last 10 years or so, back in the 80’s and 90’s he was big. He was a big action star. Opposing the major reaction to him being cast as the Superman, when asked about his take on the iconic role, filmmakers and producers agreed on one thing : he was going to nail it. In the last article, I told you that such an odd choice as the comic Michael Keaton to portray Batman resulted in over 10.000 protest letters to Warner Brothers, but when the movie came out everybody was fascinated by his performance. Well, it’s not really hard to relate the situation to this. Sure Nicolas Cage doesn’t really give the vibe that he would be the first choice of anyone to cast as Superman, but given the general look and feel of the movie, he would fit in quite well with a new extreme approach to the character. Tim Burton’s main attempt would be to emphasize that Superman was an alien, alone on this planet. I’m pretty sure Nic Cage would nail it perfectly, plus again, the people involved stated that it was going to be the first time the audience would buy that Superman and Clark Kent were different persons indeed.

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Nicolas Cage in one of the costume tests.

There are tons of production art leaked online. The movie was in pre-production phase for over 2 years. Several costumes created, many screen tests were made, scripts kept rewritten and rewritten, actors were cast. Courtney Cox would be cast as Lois Lane, Chris Rock as Jimmy Olsen, Tim Allen as the main villain alien Brainiac whereas Kevin Spacey would be cast as the criminal mastermind Lex Luthor (who actually retook this role in Bryan Singer’s 2006 dated much criticized take ‘Superman Returns’). But after all the effort, more than two years of preparation, several million dollars spent, the project was called off. Most likely it was because of the flop of Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin movie in 1997, which is seen as one of the worst comic book movies of all times, which not only killed the Batman franchise for 8 years but also made it really tricky for the executive producers and studios to invest in superhero movies for quite a while.

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Superman fighting Doomsday, which led to his temporary death. 

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 Some character sketches done by Tim Burton himself : Brainiac (left) and Superman in ‘Eradicator Suit’ that would resurrect him (right). 

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 The infamous ‘Giant Spider’. Make sure to watch Kevin Smith’s video to hear the funny story behind this. It is definitely worth it!

As I said, much information on this weird sci-fi boosted nevermade Superman movie is out there online – many costume designs, character designs, concept art etc.  In early 2013, a Kickstarter campaign to make a documentary uncovering the untold story of this flick was started. The documentary is in post production right now, and they will shoot some key scenes from Kevin Smith’s script, both animated and in live action, if they get funded. You can watch the trailer below and back them up if you like what you see. Having read Kevin Smith’s script, I’m so looking for this feature documentary and the re-creation scenes!

So, let’s take a break from the ‘fanboy-nerdy-talk’ stuff shall we? Next Youngsday we’ll continue to dig into the creative process behind entertainment arts. See you around! Oh and here’s some fan art movie poster designs I did for Superman Lives lately. Enjoy!

lolo

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