Jon Schnepp's The Death of ‘Superman Lives’: What Happened? documentary needs more funding, so the director released the trailer with Tim Burton and Kevin Smith.
Nicolas Cage…as Superman?
So it turns out, Nicolas Cage as Superman was almost a thing. In the 1990s, screenwriter and actor Kevin Smith's comic geekery was about to reach new heights, and Tim Burton almost directed both of DC's most popular superhero franchises.
According to The Wrap, Jon Schnepp's The Death of ‘Superman Lives’: What Happened? is a labor of love and discovery. But why is the trailer being released now?
Schnepp's project needs another $85,000 for completion.
He posted on the official FanBacked page, the project needs "additional money to finish Editing, create Animations, and all Final Post Production Additions." In other words, post-production prices aren't cheap.
Schnepp admits to underestimating the initial costs and now needs more. Certainly not the first independent documentary to miscalculate. An included image provides a breakdown of cost, with editing and legal fees being the highest costs in the final stages.
But why does the film matter?
The Death of ‘Superman Lives’: What Happened? is a piece of comic and superhero movie history that a lot of people want to see finished because some parts of Kevin Smith and Tim Burton's vision now exist in the Superman mythos. Connecting the dots will give insight into how DC Entertainment, Warner Brothers, and comic book writers see Superman's world.
Somehow after a decade of rewrites and changes, Superman Lives turned into Superman Returns-a film where Brandon Routh played Superman and generally faces some deep criticism now.
Considering how much of a Superman geek Smith really is, and how involved he is in the comic world, perhaps Hollywood should have listened.
Warner Bros was keen on connecting Batman and Superman after the extremely well received Keaton run.
Several years of no Superman big screen flicks, only small screen roles like Dean Cain in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, meant Smith wanted to bring the Kryptonian back on air the right way.
So many lost moments for a well-done Superman movie. And the lack of a truly good Superman story is something many fans lament about in online communities and social media. At least any movie since Christopher Reeve donned the red cape.
During an interview with Huffington Post Live, Smith opened up about the importance of Superman.
"If you get Superman right, he's the Grand Daddy of all superheroes. Without Superman, you don't get to Batman. You don't get to Spiderman. You don't get anyone else. It was Superman, first and foremost."
Just a causal fan then, Kevin?
While talking specifically about 2013's Man of Steel, the Clerks star notes how integral Superman is to the comic genre’s foundation. As an international character with no known country allegiance—even though typically portrayed as a homegrown Midwesterner—Superman offers a wider scope of humanity.
After all, when you're from a planet called Krypton and you arrive on a spaceship, you've kind of got a lot of wiggle room on where you can say you're from.
Smith also offers up how Toronto is supposed to be Metropolis, not New York City-which is very clearly a basis for Gotham instead. Some major differences between the two superheroes, and why Nicolas Cage may not have been the best fit. Cage is definitely a Gothamite, the darker and grittier side. Which Burton set the tone for Batman in the first place.
Being executive producer to AMC's Comic Book Men means 43-year-old Smith probably has a good idea about what sells. Anyone's that seen Dogma knows he understands merchandising element. So firing him? Probably not the best idea. Wesley Strick's darker take would have been more of a modern take, really. Not necessarily in a good way, either. Very Nolan-esque.
Smith saw a younger Ben Affleck as Superman. Now the entire idea’s flipped since Affleck's playing Superman frenemy, Batman, in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Burton snagged Cage for the titular role and other names like Kevin Spacey (Lex Luthor in Superman Returns), Courtney Cox, Tim Allen and Chris Rock floated around the film’s orbit.
Interestingly, Michael Keaton's name was attached. Perhaps he'd be The Dark Knight once again?
Seems like Batman vs. Superman has some origins in Superman Lives, too. Cribbing from all corners?
While not including in the documentary, Superman has a deep level of importance for Nicolas Cage. In an exclusive interview with Empire's Ali Plumb, he opened up that comics are how he "learnt to read" and "stimulated my imagination." There's a special place for Kal-El, seeing as he named his son after the character.
"I had no doubt that when the time came, with the technology [required], that those comic books would translate into some of the greatest entertainment the world has ever seen, and lo and behold, it’s a multi-billion dollar industry, so how big of a nerd can I be?"
Seems like he was looking into the future, along with Smith. Too bad the actor isn't included in the documentary.
Schnepp digs through all the documents, footage, and interviews with everyone involved in Superman Lives, except the movie stars. Looking deep, the director uses everything to find the end game. What was the purpose? What went right? And what went so horribly wrong that the movie to be scrapped?
The Wrap mentions the director managed to snag interviews with comic book writers Grant Morrison, Liam Sharp and Kerry Gammill. Experts who know the comic industry, time lines, do's and don't lists in writing for the character, and why superheroes are so important in society. Love or hate the writers, that's a lot of insider info.
Not mention the whole Tim Burton on film about the failed movie. A man who’s rarely boring in what he sees—how he envisions sets, characters, and movie concepts.
To quote Cage, "Tim can invent worlds."
With 46 days left, Schnepp needs roughly another $80,000. While the producer make it? Will the documentary rock the superhero world? Will Superman Lives get its day in the sun?
Tune in on the next story.