Superman Lives remains one of the industry's great what-ifs. At the very least, had it been released in the late nineties, it would have changed the entire genre of superhero filmmaking that we know today. But the production eventually petered out, leaving behind a sea of what-ifs and how-coulds. Filmmaker Jon Schnepp, however, isn't going to take "how could" for an answer! The trailer has been released for his documentary The Death Of Superman Lives: What Happened? and it presents a load of goodies for any Superman fan.
It was the nineties when Warner Bros., emboldened by the success of the Death of Superman comics, decided to bring the man of steel to the big screen. Their heavy hitter was Tim Burton, who had previously resurrected Batman for Warner Bros., and he'd be bringing along recent Oscar-winner Nicolas Cage.
That wasn't nearly enough to bring the project to fruition, and the trailer emphasizes the bizarre directions the script would go courtesy of a sea of screenwriters, two of which are seen here in Wesley Strick and Kevin Smith. The latter, who has been very outspoken about his involvement in superhero affairs, looks like he was a major contributing force to this film, in that Schnepp is clearly just gonna let the guy talk. And why not? Smith's script, which was almost immediately junked by Burton, was a massive epic that, as the trailer confirms, also involved Batman in a small role.
The trailer is rough, admittedly, and relies on a lot of pretty snazzy exclusive interviews. Particularly with Burton, who seems oddly reticent to discuss it even though his involvement with the film was a sweet pay-or-play deal of $5 million that he collected despite the movie never happening (Cage signed the same deal, for $20 million). But the real gem are the peeks of the unusual Superman suit the film would feature, as well as test footage (!) of Cage in the costume, taking flight. THAT'S the sort of thing you don't see often.
Ultimately, this seems to lack the mystery and excitement of something like Jodorowsky's Dune, this year's hot documentary detailing the making and unmaking of a legendary proposal for Dune featuring some of the world's greatest filmmakers and artists. Part of the reasons why movies like Superman Lives die are because 1) a lot of corporate money are tied up into them, and 2) Because ultimately, they know they can always make money on the character later. In case you hadn't heard, they've made two other Superman films since then. They'll make more.
Schnepp's an interesting guy, though: he's one of the masterminds behind Adult Swim's Metalocalypse and previously contributed a short to The ABC's Of Death. This might not be one of the greatest movies ever made about an unmade movie, but its sure to be more than just an interesting curio. The Death Of Superman Lives: What Happened? has no release date, but that will hopefully change soon.