Back in the 1990s, Warner Bros developed and then ultimately cancelled Tim Burton’s planned from Superman Lives, which would have starred Nicolas Cage.
It was 1996 when Kevin Smith pitched his Superman Lives screenplay to Jon Peters and, after two re-writes, the film looked destined to go into production. Smith suggested Tim Burton direct his script and Burton signed on with a ‘pay-or-play contract’ worth in excess of $5million.
Such was the development, Warner Bros. had pencilled in a theatrical release date for summer 1998 in a bud t0 celebrate the 60th anniversary of the character’s debut in Action Comics.
Furthermore, Nicolas Cage, a huge comic book fan who even named his children after a character in the series, signed on as Superman with a $20million pay-or-play contract. With Superman struggling following the disastrous release of 1987’s Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, Cage believed he could “reconceive the character”. On top of that, Peters felt Cage could “convince audiences he [Superman] came from outer space,” a direction Smith wanted to take the film following the success of the Star Wars 20th anniversary at the time.
Warner Bros, who had spent $30 million on developing the film, were forced to delay due to a string of issues and ultimately lost Burton who left the film to direct Sleepy Hollow. With the film looking more and more unlikely, Cage eventually pulled out in 2000.
The whole saga led to a 2015 documentary film The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened? which was directed by Jon Schnepp. The film is now set in stone as Superman folklore.
Now though, Christmas has come early for some Superman fans as the pre-made costume prepared for Cage has been unveiled: