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'Superman Lives' doc includes Nicolas Cage costume tests

by Greg Belfrage

Fanboys were livid in the 1990's when it was announced Nicolas Cage had been cast to play the Man of Steel in Superman Lives.

The movie was being produced and directed by Tim Burton, who was still basking in the glow of his success on 1989's Batman .

Burton's unconventional choice of Michael Keaton as Batman initially infuriated fans. However, Keaton's performance and the darker tone of the movie quickly won over skeptics.

Burton may have had similar hopes when he cast Nicolas Cage for Superman Lives.


Cage and Burton both boasted of how they planned to turn the legend of Superman on its head. They envisioned a brooding, lonely alien without super powers and unable to fit in with humanity.

The classic red and blue suit was to be replaced with a lighted uniform that was more reminiscent of Las Vegas than Superman. It was supposed to be some kind of regenerative costume.

The initial Kevin Smith script loosely followed the "The Death of Superman" storyline. Brainiac and Lex Luthor were the primary villains.

Read more: Kevin Smith script of 'Superman Lives'

Superman Lives would have been even more painful to watch than Burton's misfired reboots of Dark Shadows and Planet of the Apes. The more I learn about Superman Lives ... the happier I am that the project never saw the light of day.


A new documentary by Jon Schnepp delves into the movie and examines why the project failed. The doc also includes screen tests of Nicolas Cage in the Superman costume.

The Death of 'Superman Lives': What Happened? is currently in post production. The doc features interviews with Tim Burton, screenwriter Kevin Smith and many of the conceptual people involved in the project.

It appears to be fascinating look at how some of the brightest minds in Hollywood and comics nearly trashed an American icon.

Watch more: Death of Superman Lives Trailer #2


Greg Belfrage is a lifelong Star Trek fan, Batman toy collector, sci-fi movie maniac and hopeless geek. He
can be reached at greg.belfrage@mwcradio.com