Superman Lives is a cancelled superhero film under the direction of Tim Burton, based on screenplays by Wesley Strick and Dan Gilroy. Inspired by 1992 comic book The Death of Superman WB's at behest, which was planned for a release in the Summer of 1998. The film was an attempt to reboot the Superman franchise following the failure of Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.
Braniac sends the Kryptonian monster Doomsday to kill Superman, as well as blocking out the sun to make Superman powerless, as Superman is fueled by sunlight. Braniac bonds his himself toLex Luthor, becoming Lexiac and using LexCorp's assets to help take control of the Earth. but Superman is resurrected by a Kryptonian robot called "K.", who becomes a new hi-tech costume while he is still regenerating his powers.
- Nicolas Cage as Superman/Kal-El/Clark Kent
- Christopher Walken as Brainiac/I.A.C.
- Sandra Bullock or Courtney Cox as Lois Lane (according to Jon Peters)
- Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor
- Chris Rock as Jimmy Olsen
Production for Superman Lives began around 1996 or 1997 with the undergoing script title Superman Reborn by Jonathan Lemkin. Kevin Smith was hired to rewrite it based on his unfavorable review of Lemkin's script and he changed the title to Superman Lives. Warner Brothers hired Tim Burton to direct and the first thing Burton did after he signed on was hire his own screenwriter from Batman Returns, Wesley Strick was hired to write a completely new story. Eventually Dan Gilroy was hired to streamline this script and make it more budget conscious.
Why It Was Cancelled
- Warner Bros. couldn't afford the monetary risk of producing it, especially after following the financial losses and unfavorable reviews of Batman & Robin, One Eight Seven, The Postman, Sphere, Fire Down Below and Steel.
- The film underwent a rewrite before filming began, stripping away many of the most exciting scenes. It was cancelled shortly before shooting was scheduled to start.
- The money that was going to be used in making Superman Lives went into making the 1999 film Wild Wild West where the protagonists fight off a giant spider in the third act.
- Nicolas Cage continued to develop a Superman film after Burton parted ways with Warner Brothers.
- Tim Burton went on to direct the 1999 film Sleepy Hollow.
- Warner Bros. cancelled the project in 2000 and rebooted the Superman series six years later in 2006 with the release of Superman Returns starring Brandon Routh as Clark Kent/Superman. Kevin Spacey was the only cast member from the cancelled Superman film to star in the film as Lex Luthor. Bryan Singer, famous for helming the first two X-Men films prior directed the film.
- In 2015, a documentary film titled The Death of "Superman Lives": What Happened? was released on DVD and Blu-Ray. The film was hosted by the late Jon Schnepp and featured interviews with various writers and producers who took part in making the film. The film also explained about different scripts, ideas for costumes and fan reaction to hearing that Nicolas Cage was hired to play Clark Kent/Superman. The documentary even featured various behind the scenes footage including footage of Nicolas Cage in various fittings and wardrobe tests, conceptual illustrations and storyboards.
- The element where Superman fights off a giant spider was featured in the 2007 direct-to-DVD film Superman: Doomsday.
- In 2018, Warner Brothers made an animated Death of Superman film which was theatrically released.
- The ninth episode of the second season of Supergirl was titled Supergirl Lives as an homage to Superman Lives.
- Michael Jelenic pitched an animated adaptation of the Wesley Strick/Dan Gilroy screenplays, according to statements he made at the New York Comic Con in 2017.
- Nicolas Cage played Superman in Teen Titans GO! To The Movies.
- Kevin Smith planned an animated adaptation, but the project never came to fruition due to writing other films.
- Tim Burton stated in an interview that he still would like to direct the film, despite the cancellation.
- Superman Lives on Superman Wikia