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Superhero Movies That Could've Been: Nicolas Cage As Superman

Superman Lives would have been a drastic reinterpretation of Superman that took away his costume and flight... and also pitted him against a giant spider.

Black never goes out of fashion, right?

Any time a superhero’s ever been cast in a movie, you’re all-but-guaranteed to hear some amount of controversy and commotion amongst fans. The jury may still be out on whether Ryan Reynolds and his abs were better suited to Hal Jordan or Wade Wilson, but that discussion got G-Man and I thinking about some of the more memorable might-have-beens. Like how Green Lantern was about this close to being played by Jack Black in 2004, or how Common and Armie Hammer (the “Winklevi” in THE SOCIAL NETWORK, and the new Lone Ranger) were days away from play GL and Batman in the cancelled JUSTICE LEAGUE movie. You can’t get much more unforgettable than the notion of Nicolas Cage as Superman, though. With a reboot coming right around the corner for the man of steel, we figured it’d be fun to look at the big movie that was supposed to come in 1998.

21 years separated the releases of SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE and SUPERMAN RETURNS, and that’s a copious amount of time for every possible idea to be considered. And I do mean every possible idea, from Christopher Reeve reprising the role to fight Dudley Moore as Mr. Mxysptlk around the Bottled City of Kandor to a hexalogy that’d focus individual movies on villains like Silver Banshee. The most fascinating unrealized iteration, however, had to be one that involved Kevin Smith, Tim Burton and Nicolas Cage. It would’ve alternately been titled SUPERMAN LIVES or SUPERMAN REBORN.

== TEASER ==
The only available photo of Cage in costume.

As you probably sensed from the title, the proposed movie would’ve been an adaptation of the seminal DEATH OF SUPERMAN story arc. Of course, turning a sixth-month-long crossover into a single movie requires some significant trimming, so almost all of the REIGN OF THE SUPERMEN portion that pertained to Superboy, Steel and Hank Henshaw would’ve been removed. Doomsday was be siced on Supes by Brainiac as part of an elaborate scheme to get a hold of the highly powerful Kryptonian weapon, the Eradicator. Instead of taking over Supes' identity for a while, this Eradicator would fulfill its mission by resurrecting him in an alien suit that would ultimately make him powerful enough to vanquish these foes.

If you’ve ever watched or even just listened to one of Kevin Smith's his public speaking “evenings,” you’ve liked heard some of the more amusing anecdotes about this project’s behind-the-scenes development. You can hear the whole story from the man himself here(SALTY LANGUAGE ALERT) but the most eyebrow-raising portion's about the list of rules Smith had to follow for the script...

  1. Superman couldn’t fly.
  2. Superman had to wear “90’s looking” black costume.
  3. Superman had to fight a giant spider at the end.

After a couple drafts, Smith parted ways with the project once Tim Burton signed on to direct and brought his own crew of writers. It’s doubtful we’ll ever see his unused script turned into a comic as has happened with THE GREEN HORNET and SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN, but it is widely available online. The project continued for a while without his involvement, and even got to the point where Nicolas Cage had a costume fitted and several builds of Superman’s Eradicator-charged armor were built by Steve Johnson’s Edge FX special effects house.

A while back, Johnson open his vaults and posted some videos of that suit in action. Watch it below…

Producer Jon Peters reportedly wanted Cage for the roll because he thought he’d be the first actor to play Superman who anybody would immediately believe is from another planet. Interpret that as you will. I imagine he’d be the biggest Superman fan to ever play the character if this project did actually ever go through, though. You suspect a lot of lead actors pay comics lip service by saying they’re big fans, but Cage actually had a multi-million dollar collection comics that included ACTION COMICS #1. He even named one his sons Kal-El (seriously,) so I nobody can question the man’s sincerity about his fandom.

Thus concludes are brief look at the SUPERMAN movie that could’ve been. Are you maniacs relieved that this radical reinterpretation of Supes' mythos never got off the ground, or would you have liked to have seen it touch down in some way or another?

72 Comments
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Posted by roboticjesus

So glad a Nic Cage Superman movie didnt happen

Edited by They Killed Cap!

I read about the Nick Cage one a while ago and could not believe something that horrible almost made it.  
 
Thank God we never got it..whats this about Jack BLack as Green Lantern? Please fill me in someone.
 

Edited by Jordanstine

Whomever thought that:

Yes... this really happened.
- George Clooney was the next Batman
 
- Halle Berry was the perfect Catwoman 
 
- Shaquille O'Neal was the perfect Steel  
 
All need to be fired (or should already be fired) from Warner Bros.
Posted by Mr. Dead Pool

Nick has had some good movies. But for every good movie he's done, he's also done complete abominations!!! I have a feeling this one would fall into the latter.

Posted by Mucklefluga

lol
Posted by Gambit1024

This is the best thing that never happened. 

Posted by SpidermanWins

NICHOLAS CAGE?? SUPERMAN??? .........NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! PLEASE GOD NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by The Impersonator

It would have been much worse than Superman Returns.

Posted by perry_411
@Mr. Dead Pool: I think you're forgetting that some movies are supposed to be bad. Drive Angry was clearly one of those movies.
Posted by Billy Batson
 

WHATISTHISIDON'TEVEN

BB

Posted by difficlus
@Gambit1024 said:
This is the best thing that never happened. 
Posted by Omertalvendetta

It's kind of funny that the mannequin near the end looks like Nic Cage.

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

If I'm not mistaken, from what I remember, when Kevin Smith initially asked Jon Peters who he would want top lay Superman, Peters said Sean Penn. And Kevin Smith's follow up question was "...Spicoli?" Seriously though everything about that movie would have been crap and only because they just didn't give Smith enough of the control.

Posted by Grim

Hollywood Exec: "no no no.... not JUST shoulder armor. LIGHT UP shoulder armor. its teh future baby."
 
 
 
 
(facepalm)

Posted by Xenozoic Shaman

I shall tell this tale often, to scare my children before bedtime.

Posted by Outside_85

Thankfully the embodiment of the average Joe did not get the job...btw am i the only one who thinks he looks a little like Ronnie James Dio (RIP) in that shot?

Posted by leokearon

Glad cage didn't do supes, sad Jack Black didn't do GL 
 
Online
Posted by .o0Johnny0o.

  Kevin Smith talks about Superman.  It's long but Smith really knows how to tell a good story.  The tale might be long but worth it, can't recommend this story enough.

Posted by primepower53

Sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo glad this didn't happen.

Edited by Moomin123

While the film does sound like a enormous pile of crap, I think that Tim Burton could've made a good Superman film (just change the script, costume design, creative staff and most of the actors). I wouldn't have liked to have seen this film in particular, but I think if Tim Burton made a Superman film similar to his Batman films, it would've been okay. 
As a matter of fact, I actually think Nicolas Cage, while probably the most outlandish and unexpected casting choice for Superman, may've been okay, now bear with me here. Remember when the first Tim Burton Batman film came out and everyone was hating the idea of Michael Keaton as Batman? People even pertitioned against Keaton as Batman because they couldn't see him in the role, but when the film came out, everyone loved him. 
I think that the same could've been done with Nicolas Cage. Sure the photos of him that were done looked bad and the costume was unlike anything from the Superman comics, BUT had the costume looked like the original comic design, had the script been thrown away and replaced with a new one, and had Tim Burton done his own thing instead of just directing Kevin Smith's version of the movie, I think the film would've been okay. 
But don't get me wrong. The original film concept, had it been made would've been a train-wreck powerful enough to destroy Krypton and send baby Kal-El to Earth!!! 
 
   
 
Less like long haired Cage, more like short haired Cage.
Posted by waruikumo

hmmm from the looks of the nic cage pic alone.... 
 
Superman doesn't 
  Get high  
    - OR - 
  Go bald 
 
#justsaying

Posted by sladewilson30

not with tim burton behind the camera, it would have been interesting to see how he would have done ghost rider though

Posted by dewboy01

FUCK NO!!!
Posted by Mr. Dead Pool
@perry_411: I liked Drive Angry.
Posted by SuperXAsh
@Jordanstine
Or preferrably fired... from a cannon.... into the sun.
Posted by Xenozoic Shaman
@.o0Johnny0o. said:

  Kevin Smith talks about Superman.  It's long but Smith really knows how to tell a good story.  The tale might be long but worth it, can't recommend this story enough.

Superb.  Had me laughing constantly.  Thank you. ^_^
Posted by Kairan1979

Big Daddy is the closest thing to superhero Nick Cage should EVER play!

Posted by ImperiousRix

Well, I think most of us can say we're glad these didn't happen. 
Now it's your move, Snyder.

Posted by haydenclaireheroes
@roboticjesus said:

So glad a Nic Cage Superman movie didnt happen

Posted by nszerdy

Barf----Kevin Smith really hated working with Burton so much so---that when he signs a script--he writes "F*&$ Tim Burton" on it!

Posted by Red Rum

I think Mad TV did a parody of "Leaving Las Vegas" called "Leaving Metropolis".
 
There was also a serious movie called Leaving Metropolis, which was (according to Wikipedia) "set against the backdrop" of the years between Supe's revealing his identity to hid death at Doomsday's hands. "The events in the comics parallel events in the lives of the characters."

Posted by Cherry Bomb

 
He already ruined Ghost Rider! so why not Superman? -_-

Posted by roboticjesus

@Moomin123: Cage is one of those actors who usually plays himself and not the character (See Ryan Reynolds in Green Lantern). This does not work in comic book movies, except with maybe Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark.

Posted by ohrenclez

@.o0Johnny0o. said:

Kevin Smith talks about Superman. It's long but Smith really knows how to tell a good story. The tale might be long but worth it, can't recommend this story enough.

awesome :-D

Edited by maxicere
@Outside_85 said:

Thankfully the embodiment of the average Joe did not get the job...btw am i the only one who thinks he looks a little like Ronnie James Dio (RIP) in that shot?

I see too!!
Posted by turoksonofstone

Oh, The Horror.

Posted by ArchiestoAvengers

Nick needs to pick a genre for movies and stick with it!! Every time i tun on the TV he is in a new movie!

Posted by Bearded Justice

the world wouldve only been that much more amazing
Posted by Omega Ray Jay

I've seen this before, and watched the Smith talk and even now it doesn't seem any better, strange directions they took in the 90's. Glad this never came into being.

Posted by Thunderscream

No, no no no no. NO to Cage being in any more movies ever again. The only one I could tolerate him in was Matchstick Men. He makes my eyes and ears bleed.

Posted by ZombiePie

Yeah I read about this on Cracked.com a while back.

Posted by kungnima

Jim Carrey was in talk for the role of Brainiac. So was Tim Allen.
For the Burton version

Posted by Norusdog

oh dear GOD thank you this never got made.

Posted by ConstantRa1n

Nic Cage should play every role in every movie.

Posted by The_Tree

I'd definitely just want to watch this out of curiosity.

Posted by perry_411
@Mr. Dead Pool: You're supposed to like it, it's so bad it has circled back around to good. Similar to how you can fall through the blackhole of porn and end up finding clothed women more attractive.
Posted by Z3RO180
@Jordanstine: no not fired...taken behind a shed and have two shot gun shells in the back ithere head.
Posted by Out_of_Space

I can imagine how he will looks - REALLY BAD

Posted by Asok

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Posted by Deadcool
@Asok
Epic
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