He Lives! He Dies! He Is Canceled! (The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened?, 2015)
In 1998 the comic world was abuzz with talks of a new Superman movie. We heard talks of a script, a director (Tim Burton) and a star (Nicholas Cage). And then one day it was dead, and Superman did not return to the screen until 2006 with Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns.
Since the comics internet was barely a thing in 1998, the film remained shrouded in mystery for almost a decade. We had no idea really how far it had gotten until a few years ago when pic of Cage in a shiny Supersuit surfaced on the web. Kevin Smith had shared some tales as the second screenwriter.
Really, the story behind the story is quite intriguing. Cartoon Network animator Jon Schnepp decided to investigate how the film went so wrong, exploring the story by talking to almost everyone involved. John Peters, Tim Burton, Kevin Smith and other screenwriters and producers and production designers all contribute to tell the odd tale of Burton and Cage’s goal of a lonelier Superman who struggled as an outsider. Superman Scissorhands, if you will.
Oh yeah, and Peters’ desire to get another Giant Spider and some polar bears on screen.
I was impressed by how many people Schnepp was able to get to sit down and discuss the project. The only person that seems to be missing is Nick Cage, who is represented via archival footage.
The film is thorough in it’s research and leaves no stone unturned. Schnepp fills the documentary with cool graphics from the comic books, images of production art and everybody is quite forthcoming.
The film does not persuade me that it would have been a disaster, but it is an entertaining peek into film history.