See Nicolas Cage As Superman In Tim Burton’s Failed Blockbuster

Nicolas Cage was set to star in Superman Lives, written by Kevin Smith and directed by Tim Burton, and while the film never happened, check out a rare video of the star in full costume.

By Douglas Helm | Updated

nicolas cage

Many people are disappointed by Henry Cavill losing his spot in James Gunn’s DCU, but some of us are still stinging from Nicolas Cage never getting to make his Superman movie with Tim Burton. Fortunately, we sometimes get little clips that show us what could have been. This video from 1997 shows Cage testing out the super suit and you can definitely feel the excitement in the room.

Nicolas Cage might not be the first person who comes to mind when you think of Superman, but it’s just weird enough to work. In 1997, we would have had peak Cage and peak Tim Burton working on a DC movie. It honestly sounds like the perfect recipe for a classic.

Of course, Tim Burton also gave us some of the best live-action Batman movies with Michael Keaton’s take on the character. Tim Burton’s Batman movies, along with the Christopher Reeves Superman movies, definitely helped to legitimize the superhero movie genre as something more serious. Giving Nicolas Cage a chance as Superman would have certainly been an interesting attempt to revitalize the character.

There were plenty of interesting pieces in the Nicolas Cage Superman puzzle that indicate the movie could have been something special. Along with Tim Burton handling the directing duties, the script was also to be written by lifelong comic book fan Kevin Smith, who was fresh off the success of Clerks. This is where things began to fall apart.

Kevin Smith was eventually replaced by Wesley Strick to write a new screenplay, with Dan Gilroy being brought in to make revisions to Strick’s script. Producer Jon Peters would also continually make wild requests, including having Superman fight a giant spider in the movie’s climax. Warner Bros reportedly had big concerns with how the script was turning out and the Nicolas Cage Superman film was essentially dead in the water by 1998.

nicolas cage ghost rider
Nicolas Cage in his first superhero role in Ghost Rider

The best we have now is the documentary The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened? which is the most comprehensive retelling of Nicolas Cage’s doomed blockbuster. The documentary revealed fascinating tidbits about the film, such as Christoper Walken being looked at to play the villain Brainiac and Chris Rock playing Jimmy Olsen. It also mentions that we may have seen Michael Keaton make a cameo in the movie.

If Nicolas Cage’s Superman movie would have featured a Michael Keaton cameo, DC could have beaten the MCU to the punch way back in 1997. Of course, this was never meant to be, and now the MCU is one of the most financially successful interconnected superhero endeavors in history and the DC film universe is in a state of flux. While the Cage movie might not have changed things, you never know what kind of butterfly effect it could have had.

While we likely won’t be seeing Nicolas Cage as Superman anytime soon (there’s always the multiverse), the DCU marches on. DC fans can catch the next film, Shazam! Fury of the Gods in theaters soon. We can also count on seeing Supes again, albeit as a younger version, sometime in James Gunn’s future DCU timeline.