Recently director Kevin Smith has been lending his talents to DC Comics media by helming a few episodes of The Flash and Supergirl. 20 years earlier, however, he was brought in to kick off the process that almost brought Superman back to the big screen. Smith's script, titled Superman Lives, was never made into a movie due to various complications, but he recently suggested that it might be worth bringing back as an animated movie.
During his recent Facebook Q&A, Kevin Smith agreed with the idea that Superman Lives could be adapted as an interesting animated movie, and even cited a few names that would like to hear voicing the main characters. He stated:
Oh like based on my script, based on the Superman Lives script? That would be tight, dude. I'm not going to lie, that would be fun to see. That's something I worked on 20 years ago at this point, so that would be really amazing to kind of see, like they turn it into a cartoon and get the people to do the voices. Nic Cage is still around and stuff. And I wanted Michael Rooker for my Lex Luthor, so that would be amazing. Um, but, you know, I'm game. That ain't up to me, kids. That's up to the good folks at Warner Bros. and stuff, but if they were ever to call and say hey, we want to do a cartoon version of that Superman script we wrote, believe me I'd be like, that'd be dope, man. You know you close all loops in life, one way or another, and that would be a nice way to close that loop.
When Kevin Smith pitched his Superman movie idea to Warner Bros in 1996, it had been nine years since Superman IV: The Quest for Peace was released, and we all know how that turned out. Superman Lives was intended to bring back the Man of Steel in a new and exciting way, and by exciting, I mean bizarre. That's because although Smith is a longtime comic book fan and well acquainted with the Superman mythology, producer Jon Peters gave him unusual directives like having Kal-El wear an all-black suit and making him fight a giant spider. Nevertheless, Superman Lives moved forward (although Smith's draft was later separately rewritten by two other writers), and Tim Burton was eventually hired to direct, but by 2000, the project was dead.
Given how much time has passed, not to mention how Superman is currently being adapted in the DCEU and on Supergirl, there's no chance that Superman Lives will receive a second chance at becoming a live action feature. Still, making it into an animated movie wouldn't be the weirdest idea. Just last month, DC released Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders, which featured Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar reprising their respective roles from the 1960s Batman TV series. If DC and Warner Bros were game, this kind of Superman Lives adaptation would at least promise to be something unique. Whether Nicolas Cage would be on board is questionable, though I would definitely like to hear what Michael Rooker's Lex Luthor would sound like.
If you want to learn more about the work that went into Superman Lives, check out the documentary The Death of "Superman Lives": What Happened?, which features interviews with Kevin Smith, Tim Burton, Jon Peters and others involved with the production.