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Once upon a time in the world of comic book movies, we almost got to see a little movie called Superman Lives take its place as the fifth film in Warner Bros. film adaptation of the last son of Krypton. And with any good Superman, you need a fantastic Lex Luthor to really make his day a living hell. As it turns out, Kevin Smith, the man who wrote that very unmade project, had his fantastic Lex Luthor in mind right from the start: Guardians of the Galaxy’s Michael Rooker.
During Focus Features’ livestream commentary on Mallrats, Smith was on hand to drop all sorts of knowledge into the chat box. In-between amazing tidbits about landing Stan Lee, Shannon Doherty getting the film green lit, and a whole bunch of details pertaining to the sequel Twilight of the Mallrats, Kevin Smith included this rather awesome gem:
When I wrote my Superman Lives script, Rooker was who I saw in my head as Lex Luthor. … So his head shaving became yet another comic book reference.
Interestingly enough, Kevin Smith has previously mentioned how he wanted Michael Rooker to play the Luthor to Nicolas Cage’s Superman. But knowing this intentions dates back the writing process takes that story to a whole new level; the iconic actor was in mind when Kevin Smith was crafting the character.
Traditionally Lex Luthor has been known as conniving and devious, but he isn’t typically known as being someone very physical. So the fact that Kevin Smith would want to cast the actor he got to film nude in Mallrats as Superman Lives’ variant of Luthor almost hints at a Lex could have been a real fighter. Maybe he could have even taken Supes in a post-Kryptonite exposure fist fight that would level the playing field.
Unfortunately Superman Lives, which was supposed to be directed by none other than Tim Burton himself, and would eventually see a re-write from Rogue One writer Dan Gilroy never came to be. Even after getting Nic Cage fitted and ready with his very ‘90s Superman costume, the project never even got to the first up in “Up, up, and away.” Remaining one of the greatest curiosities of comic book cinema, fans can only imagine what this movie would have turned out to be.
And now, we can only imagine how bad ass Michael Rooker’s Lex Luthor would have been in Superman Lives. Though we don’t have to imagine what the gigantic robotic spider the film’s producer Jon Peters wanted to put in the movie would look like. That concept would be reused in one of Peter’s later films, the Will Smith/Kevin Kline film Wild Wild West.
Fans can at least take comfort that while we didn’t get Rooker’s Lex Luthor in our eyes, we at least got to see him bring Guardians of the Galaxy’s Yondu into the world. So it’s not all that bad, right?
Mallrats is available on Digital HD, as well as Blu-ray and DVD.