Costume Designs from Tim Burton’s Unmade ‘Superman Lives’ Film
At the moment there’s a Superman movie in development with a story by a noted screenwriter and a visionary director signed on to direct. It’s easy to forget that when it comes to the Man of Steel on film, the same state of affairs has existed for the better part of 20 years. As detailed in the book Superman Vs. Hollywood, a number of filmmakers and performers were attached to various aborted Superman films before we finally saw Bryan Singer and Brand Routh’s Superman Returns in 2006, but none more closer to the finish line than Superman Lives by Tim Burton and Nicolas Cage, on which $50 million was spent before Warner Bros. terminated the project. If the photos after the jump prove anything, it’s that Superman dodged a pretty big kryptonite bullet.Released for the first time last week was a collection of pre-production photos from Superman Lives, specifically spotlighting the radical and achingly 1990s-specific redesign of Superman’s costume commissioned by the famously idiosyncratic Burton. Taken from the Facebook page of Visual Effects artist Steve Johnson, the photos are fascinating and frightening glimpses into what might have become of America’s greatest hero (especially disturbing are those shots of the Nicolas Cage mannequin). Indeed, that Burton never called “action!” on even one take of Superman Lives is something for which both comic book fans and general audiences should thank Rao and all other available gods, demons and supernatural beings.
Interestingly, before the Superman project fell to Burton, Clerks and Mallrats writer/director Kevin Smith was hired to write a Superman screenplay under the auspices of producer Jon Peters, a polarizing figure in Hollywood who, it is suggested in the book Hit and Run: How Jon Peters and Peter Guber Took Sony for a Ride in Hollywood, may have been making movies while not knowing how to read. Burton chose not to use Smith’s script, freeing the screenwriter to later deliver what is an absolutely unforgettable tale of Hollywood horribleness as seen through the prism of a dubious Superman movie. You can listen to Smith’s story in the YouTube clip below.